There was a day that one of the most creative outlets for the "Senior Adult" minister was the opportunity to come up with a cute name for the senior adult group at the church. Remember some of these? Triple L Club, Seasoned Saints, Keenagers, Ageless Wonders, Sizzlin' Seniors, Merry Makers, JOY Club (Just Older Youth - They always feel the need to explain that one to us … ), Hilltoppers, Fun-Timers, Ever-Ready Club, Prime-Timers, and so many more. I have dozens and dozens of these. Untold hours have been invested in coming up with cute little names for our cute little groups of seasoned saints.
Problem is, if you poll baby boomers today, guess what their preferred moniker is, by far, when it comes to "groups" they want to be connected to in the church? Adults. Wow. There went all those hours of creativity! And you want to know what their LEAST favorite designation is as we seek to categorize them so we can more effectively minister to them? Yep, you guessed it! Senior Adult.
Boomers, generally considered anyone born during the post-war population boom between 1946-1964, don't just want to be referred to differently, they have different needs, hopes, dreams, and desires when it comes to ministry in and through the church. Rather than be ministered TO, boomers have a great desire to make an impact in the second half of their lives, which means our ministry with boomers must move in an entirely different direction than traditional senior adult ministries have in the past if we're going to tap into their drives, their abilities and their frenetic, busy lives.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when seeking to minister effectively with boomers:
- Boomers are great participators, but not great belongers. Emphasize events and experiences, which encourage participation.
- Boomers are non-institutional. They are not as tightly woven into the denominational weave of your church as previous generations may have been. Don't be shocked to learn they are also participating in churches of other faiths.
- Boomers look for the practical and pragmatic in sermons and bible studies. Ensure that application and practicality is clear and real in every encounter with God's Living Word.
- Boomers expect that the contribution of single adults will be appreciated and celebrated. More than 50% of American adults are single. Boomers accept this fact, and look for ways to engage single adults in ministry.
- Boomers are high innovators, and expect us to be as well. They will call you out on your failure to innovate.
- The boomer wave is here. 10,000 boomers are now turning 65 every single day, for the next 18 years. Are you and your church prepared to minister to them?
For the past four years, Texas Baptists have taken the lead in helping to prepare churches, ministers, and volunteers to more effectively minister to the boomer wave. Beginning in 2011, we have hosted a National Boomer Ministry Conference, Catch the Boomer Wave, reaching people from all over the country. This year's conference will be held Sept. 9-11, at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, and will include sessions to equip ministers and volunteers for traditional senior adult ministry, as well as boomer ministry.
For details or for online registration, go to www.texasbaptists.org/boomers and plan to bring your entire team of volunteers with you to join the hundreds of others from churches all across the country who are preparing to "Catch the Boomer Wave!"
Keith Lowry, Discipleship
Adult Consultant and Boomer Ministry Specialist
keith.lowry [at] texasbaptists.org