If only every church did these 6 things for their actively retired members. Posted on September 19, 2018September 20, 2018 by Dave Fenton Unlike their parents’ generation, today’s retirees are ready for a lot more than pruning the roses. Most have the health, energy and desire to maximise the years ahead. And their church could play a big part in them making the transition and living life to the full. What could and should be done? Here are the big 6. 1. Realistic expectations Don’t assume someone no longer in full time work will have lots of hours to spare. Reality can be very different. Three generations of their family may have expectations and demands on their time – their children, their grandkids and their elderly parents. Rather than being able to contribute a little extra, they may need special care and support. At the same time, they are likely to have plans for all those things that were impossible until now and they have worked so hard for. 2. Seeing them as a distinct group within the church Those ‘retired and active’ are likely to fall between those on one hand who prefer tradition and reflection, and people who enjoy energetic children’s action songs on the other! They are a distinct demographic many having grown up in the faith under the influences of the likes of Spring Harvest, New Wine, Alpha and Christianity Explored. Almost certainly your church has programmes for children, youth, families, the elderly, and so on. Those in their active after-work years are actually another defined segment. A great way forward is to put together – A small group responsible for creating and arranging their own programme A simple mission and vision statement about why the aim of such ministry and what the outcome should be A budget line in the church accounts to support it! 3. Offering activities they need The kind of initiatives that will help actively retired people flourish include: Spending time with their peers socially: This needs to be no more than a few activities that have their focus on learning from each other – a walk, ten-pin bowling, a bike ride, a trip somewhere. And it should look nothing like a programme for the elderly. Addressing relevant issues: Perhaps an event on the issues of stress or loss of status – followed by discussion. Or an annual ‘Heading for Retirement’ evening/day to help equip your people for what’s coming their way. Developing a ‘buddy’ system: For those who want it, a seasoned retiree matched up with a newbie can be a great asset. 4.Don’t use them – develop them Look for ways to release their experience, wisdom and gifts. This could involve creating a list of the workplace skills of your retirees that could be drawn on. It also means thinking differently. Instead of first defining a role and then looking for someone to fill it, start by discovering the gifts and abilities waiting to be used and find a role that fits them. Imagine the benefit of having – A customer service ex-professional improving all the ‘touch points’ your church has with its members and community An of entrepreneur or two thinking outside the box about what could be done with your premises or programmes A market researcher developing an online survey to identify what your members see as their greatest needs A well-read person helping you research facts, stories to enrich your preaching 5. Encourage them to be salt and light Understandably, for a leader, the priority is likely to be meeting the needs of your church. But Jesus calls us to be ‘salt and light’, and with the present welfare cuts and social needs, there are ample opportunities for involvement. This may be in the context of your church. Or a wider opportunity that will help to influence your community and cause your retirees to strengthen their faith. Support and pray for them in whatever ‘salt and light’ role they take up, just as you do missionaries and those with other ministries. 6. Help them reach their peers It is a well-established church principle that like attracts like. Mostly we think of this in relation to reaching youth but its equally valid for the retired and active generation, in view of their distinct culture, life experiences and present status. This is an exciting opportunity that more and more churches are waking up to. There’s helpful thinking already in place about reaching the retired and active. If you’re eager to understand more about the after-work generation, do check out the Church Leaders section on our website. Do you have ideas or experiences relating to church leaders and the retired and active generation? Please comment here. Or join our FaceBook community and share them. David Fenton Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.