If only church leaders grasped 5 vital truths about those retiring today

This is not a knock at church leaders. They are flat out doing all they can in challenging and demanding circumstances.

Rather, it’s a wakeup call. Because something significant has changed in society, and there’s a whole section of the congregations that could be missed.

While they’ve been flat out meeting the needs of children, youth, families, singles, and golden oldies, a new social segment has emerged. It’s those now sometimes called the ‘young old’ – they’re no longer working fulltime but definitely still up for living life to the full.

This has huge implications for churches and their leaders. In particular, there’s a need to take account of these 5 vital truths:

1. Those retiring today are not like their parents

In the past, retirement meant looking to take life easy – with little thought of fresh experiences and opportunities. However, those now coming to retirement – or already there –

  • Do not see themselves as ‘old’ or want to be treated as such
  • Are still ‘young’ in mind, body, and body
  • May want to make the most of the knowledge, skills, and experience they gathered during their working years

2. Those retiring today are not ‘seniors’

If a church has a ministry to seniors – those unlikely to have ever worn denim – this will not cut it for those in the early years of retirement. They may be willing to serve in that setting – but it’s not ‘them’.

Indeed, most of today’s retirees would rather be anywhere other than counted among a group now designated as ‘old – whose memories are of Doris Day rather than Elvis or The Beatles.

3. Those retiring today are not ‘traditional’ worshipers

In terms of their worship experience and aspirations, they’re not ‘traditional’. Rather, they have grown older during the years of church renewal – and Spring Harvest worship and its kind. Indeed, they have been the ones who’ve encouraged it rather than resisted.

As a result, they may not have much taste for tradition and reflection and have outgrown all-age-worship’s action songs. So they may struggle to find a church experience that works for them and to which they could invite their peers.

4. Those retiring today are a great resource for your church

When a church leader hears of someone no longer working the word ‘rota’ may come quickly to mind. Or they rejoice that there’s perhaps another pair of hands to do some practical work.

Yet something much more is now on offer.

This generation of retirees is computer literate, internet savvy and has been immersed in the best workplace practice. That’s why websites are now offering them ways to put their past experience to use in the voluntary sector.

So why shouldn’t their church tap into their skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, customer service, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more?

Here’s a resource for churches, women, and men waiting to be engaged with. A grouping non-existent in the days when the end of paid work meant just putting your feet up.

5. Those retiring today need help to adjust and flourish

The journey to and through retirement will be unique for each church member. But almost all would benefit from the pastoral support, wisdom, and help of their church leaders.

Above all they need to be developed rather than ‘used’.

This can involve –

  • Identifying and helping those heading for their P45 to think and pray through what’s ahead
  • Treating them as a defined segment of church life alongside children, youth, seniors, etc
  • Creating activities, projects, and opportunities that relate to their needs and abilities

For a raft of practical suggestions on what a church can do for its retired and active members see our website under What a Church Leader can do.

Some of it is very simple. Some is very profound. And all is worth doing.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Do you have insights or questions relating to church leadership and those retired and active? Please tell join our FaceBook community and share them.



  1. Hi Peter

    A friend from our church has just sent a the link with this article through to us – he knows I have recently retired and fit perfectly into the ‘young retired’ group you describe.

    I have recently started my own blog and I’ll refer to this post in the future, so I hope that’s okay with you. In the meantime I’m adding your site to my list.

    Thanks again and kind regards


  2. Some of us octogenarians are still in the category that you describe! I had my first pay packet since 2010 this month, CQC inspection of a care home as ‘expert patient’.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife