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Shut Down the Bus Tours: What Older Church Members Should Really Be Doing

So how do you engage older church attendees… say people over age 50?

The question’s been around a long time. And—as most church leaders could tell you—it’s a bit of a loaded question.

It’s also a question I’m hearing again and again, particularly from churches that are doing a great job reaching young families. Some leaders want to know how to keep older members engaged, especially when a church is doing a great job reaching young families.

As someone who turned 50 last year and whose kids have moved out of the house and into university and life, I can tell you I’ve thought about this question both personally and from my vantage point as a church leader.

The default in many churches is simple: provide programming for over-50 adults that caters to their needs: potluck lunches, Bible studies and social gatherings for their demographic, and, of course, bus trips.

The purpose of this post is to ask one simple question.

Really?

As in really—this is as good as it gets for people moving into their prime and then into their senior years?

I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all.

If I have to spend the next thirty years taking bus trips, I want the first bus trip to be straight to heaven. There’s a much better way for 50+ adults to spend their time, influence and energy.

Let me explain.
older church members

Here are four reasons it’s time to kill the bus trip mentality far too many churches adopt for their over-50 attenders.

1. Life isn’t about serving you

What I struggle with most about the North American dream of how to spend life in your older years is this: it’s all about serving yourself, not others.

I’m not saying you can’t take a vacation or enjoy the life God has given you, but a thirty-year vacation? Seriously? How many rounds of golf can you play? How many beaches can you lie on? How many 4:30 buffets can you eat?

Too many churches have played into the trap of trying to cater to the needs of perfectly capable over-50 adults in their church, as though they were a demographic to be appeased, and not mobilized.

When church leaders cater to appeasing needs, they miss the mission potential of a generation.

You aren’t the mission. The mission is the mission.

You can fill your life with activity, or you can fill your life with purpose. It’s your choice. I’m choosing purpose.

2. The next generation wants and needs the older generation

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises to Gen Xers (that’s me), Boomers and Elders is that Millennials want to spend time with people older than themselves.

When I was 25, I didn’t want to spend time with anyone over 30. My goodness, has that changed. And I’m grateful for that.

In my work and in my leadership world, I’m surrounded by young team members. Almost everyone on my team is 15 to 30 years younger than me. And I love it. I learn and grow, and so do they.

I’m a big fan (and practitioner) of the Orange Strategy, which not only combines the influence of church leaders and families, but leverages the faith and wisdom of one generation to build into the next.

Biblical community is more nuanced and powerful than hipsters ministering to hipsters and seniors ministering to seniors. It’s about pairing up the generations to learn from each other, serve side by side and build into each other.

In our church, every generation serves alongside other generations. It keeps older adults young and helps make the young wise.

It does more than though. Serving together creates significance. I love the way Reggie Joiner puts it: people will not believe they are significant until you give them something significant to do.

By giving senior adults something significant to do—like being a small group leader for 5th grade boys, 12th grade girls, young married couples or single 20 somethings—they realize they have a contribution to make to the next generation.

Conversely, when a high school student serves at the food bank alongside a 60-year-old retired banker, they often do something more than serve food—they build a relationship, influencing one another and growing together in life and faith.

Kara Powell, in her research, found that having generations serve together in a way that builds relationships between those really helps teens and young adults find or keep their faith.

3. Not mobilizing older adults squanders resources

If church leaders simply pander to the consumer mindset that characterizes an older lifestyle (cruises, relaxation and rest), they deny a powerful reality that could be leveraged for the mission.

First, some workers actually don’t hit their peak earning years until their 50s and 60s. Church leaders should challenge people in that category to increase their standard of giving, not just their standard of living.

As you soon discover by talking to many successful business people, there’s an emptiness that comes with success and money. The reality is that the emptiness they feel in your soul is actually filled by giving, not getting.

Church leaders who are able to help people see that this is what they’re missing will be able to leverage resources to fund the next generation.

It’s more than money, though.

While foolishness plagues both old and young alike (some people don’t grow wiser in their senior years; they just grow older, there are decades of accumulated wisdom that get wasted if it’s not leveraged for the sake of others.

There can be a significant wisdom that’s lost if years get spent only in business, at the lake house, eating potluck lunches and taking trips.

As I already mentioned, Millennials love being around older adults and are wide open to insights, questions and conversations about faith and life. Leverage that dynamic, and you will see powerful transformation happen, not just in the life of younger people, but in the lives of older adults as well.

Fulfillment is found in giving, not getting.

The older I get, the more I prioritize being around young people. In my case, it’s mostly to ask questions, learn, and enjoy the relationship and insights. Being around the young keeps you young.

4. Sacrifice kills entitlement

Given the current decline in church attendance and engagement in North America and the West, passing the faith onto the next generation has never been more urgent.

In fact, I believe the greatest thing this generation can do is sacrifice to bring faith to the next generation.

This is not the time for older adults to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight given the fact that the flight is potentially headed for a crash landing.

What if this one generation actually just sacrificed for the sake of another? What if they gave up their preferences in music, style and taste so that others could come to know Christ?

What if they changed their methods and preferences to preserve the mission?

Leveraging time, wisdom, insight, relationship, money and influence—essentially, your life— for the sake of the young is the greatest legacy you can leave.

What Do You Think?

I realize this is a counter-cultural argument, but I think it’s an important one.

No generation in history has had more resources than the current generation over 50. Leveraging them for the sake of the next generation is perhaps the best thing we can do with them.

If you want to learn more about the kind of changes churches need to make to be relevant to the next generation, I wrote about it in Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The bottom line is this: a spirit of sacrifice is far more compelling than a spirit of entitlement. What am I entitled to as a person over 50? Nothing. But I’ve been blessed with much. It’s time to deploy what I’ve been given.

What are you learning about this?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

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83 Comments

  1. john appleseed on February 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I became a first-time missionary at 51, & a first-time pastor at 53.
    I am constantly aware of my need of God’s grace. There are so many people who could do this mission better than me. Why didn’t God send them here? Perhaps he did & they said no.

    • john appleseed on February 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      In the mid-1990s I responded to a missions sermon by telling God that I would go anywhere he sent me.
      During 1997-2000 was the most painful time in my life for a variety of reasons.
      Beginning in about 2001, God mercifully began to drop a lot of clues on me as to his will for my life, & soon after he gave me a love for Filipino people.
      The Lord used the next several years by sending me through training & by refining my call.
      I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked, making less money than ever, yet I’ve never been happier.

  2. James D. Quigge on February 11, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Not my experience in the church I attend.

  3. Paul Cummings on February 10, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Great blog Carey – our church is becoming a mix of young and old. Our style of worship music has changed as our worship team all are millennials. This is bringing a younger crowd into the church, however, some of our long term, over 50 members – not all, are having a great deal of difficulty with this change. Entitlement seems to be an issue for some. We encourage our over 50 crowd to be involved, or get involved in ministries within the church that integrate all generations. So, while entitlement seems to continue to be an issue for some, it is becoming less and less of an issue for the majority of the over 50 crowd. Again great blog with some great ideas…..thanks!

  4. Andy Brock on December 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Carey, I am over 60, and a pastor to boot. And I agree with your assessment which applies to many small churches like I serve. I have found many of these churches are care facilities, not the body of Christ fulfilling the mission of God where they have been planted. I also warn that we too should not generalize, as I have some seniors reaching into their late 80’s which continue to demonstrate their usefulness in ministry, and a few entering their late 60’s and early 70’s willing to find new ways to do ministry in a changing world. This said, I think that I would like to see more older members relinquish the reins of power in the church, and be focused on grooming and mentoring young adults in growing spiritually and developing leadership in new ministries according to the new reality of our communities. Then some of these older churches will again flourish to the glory of God.

  5. Mark Schulz on October 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    For those who are serious about helping to develop older adults and walk with them to clarify their calling and legacy, I recommend checking out Leader Breakthru and their online tools of Apex and Resonance. Apex is a process designed to clarify your contribution … for younger and older adults who have not yet done much reflection on their own strengths and spiritual gifts. Resonance is focused on older adults who have a passion to finish well and to maximize their contribution and influence in these last stages of life’s race. If you would like further info, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Walling at Leader Breakthru or me at marks@mypeacechurch.com.

  6. DebbyJane62 on October 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    The significance for doing for others, purpose driven, mission to a younger generation is important. There are activities/ways to accomplish this. Bus trips for Seniors (especially disabled) are extremely important. They build friendship, a sense of belonging, and for those who have loss their spouses and/or have no children and do not get to travel anymore; it is a mission. Why should teenagers and children have all the bus trips and summer camps? Entitlement> Yes, much entitlement for respecting the years of wisdom and the losses suffered for many Seniors. I find this article to be unbalanced and “cold”. Sacrifice for Seniors is an obligation; spending time with them, being present with them, is a ministry that is denied by many families, friends, churches. Let us not neglect this Senior needful ministry to focus on achieving results through means for younger and able persons that have not lived their many years of purpose driven significance yet. This is not about luxury or retirement or golf…..this is about “purpose presence” for Seniors. This is about compassion at the very heart of Jesus. Those without understanding lack the empathy and wisdom to see the need for “purpose presence”. Some day when leaders realize the wisdom years that have been lived and the sufferings that have endured; will better understand the get-up-and-go lifestyle has been replaced with a stillness and a fellowship that can only be seen by being present with these Senior souls. Very few Pastors have this gift of kindness, patience, and time. A field trip, a shared meal, a conversation….simple, yet profound….just like Jesus.

    • Elaine Agee on November 8, 2016 at 7:30 am

      now is the time for the young to take care of the seniors…the Bible says to take care of us and while taking care of us you will learn our wisdom. I am a widow and do the young people of the community or church help me to keep my yard groomed…fix lil repair jobs in my home or just come over and play cards with me? No…they are too busy doing things with their friends. I go on trips to have fellowship with my friends or hang at my senior center because I am not important to the young people anymore…

  7. John Mushenhouse on October 11, 2016 at 6:47 am

    For years, it seems things have been geared around entertainment for bored church goers, why change when they turn 50. How many really witness? How many really have serious bible studies? How many take serious bible courses (many free online)? How many pastors teach biblical languages so the crowd can do their own exegesis?

    Face it. Few hunger and thirst for this. Few Pastors encourage this as this takes time and talent. How many churches go to places and witness to begin with. How many really study the bible in depth? These things are continuations? How many have prayer (real prayer) meetings?

    We all it isn’t happening in the mainline churches or there would be revival.

  8. Craig Giddens on October 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    1. why can’t senior saints do both? i mean … why can’t they take bus trips and be active in the ministry and leadership of the church? … it happens in many churches.
    2. maybe wait until you turn 60 or 70 … then write the article.

  9. John Boy on October 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    So far as I am aware ‘retirement’ doesn’t really have any Biblical precedent. If I’ve understood it correctly the men serving in the temple stepped down from their physically strenuous roles when they were 50, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other roles for them to take on. I don’t know when retirement first became the norm. Amongst pastors I get the impression that until the latter half of the 19th century most pastors worked until death or until they were no longer physically capable of doing the work. For the ordinary people there was often no financial security and they had to work until death.

    I’m not saying people should stick at their secular occupations until death (though perhaps people in jobs which are of great public service ought to stick at their jobs for longer and not stop in their prime when they have a wealth of knowledge and experience still to offer). But if we are privileged enough to live in an age where financial security means we are able to retire from secular employment, surely we ought to greatly look forward to that time when we can devote our time unrestrictedly and wholeheartedly to Christian service.

    I often wonder if a retirement spent in a worldly manner doesn’t undermine our Christian witness. Most people are impressed by elderly people who remain active and don’t succumb to a life of ease. But if non-Christians see retired Christians taking things easy, it doesn’t give them any impression of the sacrificial living that Christians are called to, or or of the urgency of the Christian message, or of our earnestness in spreading it. In many instances a worldly retirement could be a symptom of an unbelieving heart – a person isn’t sure if there really is life after death so they want to make the most of their remaining years on earth ‘just in case’. Or they treat their latter years as their reward for their decades spent working. But this life is not our reward. We are in the world but not of the world. The rewards we should be looking for are in heaven.

    People sometimes say that we work for the first six decades of our lives and that the seventh decade is a Sabbath rest. But where is the Christian spirit in that? In this New Testament age our rest is on the first day of the week, not the last. We have our time of ease in childhood. The nearer we get to the grave the more urgently we should desire to make good use of what little time remains to us. But admittedly I am far from retirement so I don’t know how I will feel when I actually get there. But I would rather die before I retire and have my life-savings go towards things that will be of benefit to the Kingdom, than live to squander it on things that will pass away.

  10. Pam on October 8, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Well……the overall tone of this article just gets under my skin! I’ll just say outright that it kinda makes me furious! I’m in that generation over 50, and our focus is still on getting the message out to others, but let me tell you – I HAVE done my time! My husband and I have worked with the children and the youth for several years in many capacities and enjoyed every minute of it. We raised our son and enjoyed our grandkids as long as they needed us. We both took care of our parents when they became “too old” and too ill to care for themselves. All the while, we were working toward retirement and our “entitlement” of being able to spend more time on the golf course, traveling, enjoying seeing the rest of the USA, and relaxing a bit more. Much of our time now, however, is spent going to doctor’s appointments, watching out for neighbors who “have done their time” and need a little more help, visiting friends and fellow church members in the nursing homes, visiting friends and fellow church members in the hospitals, calling and checking on those “who have done their time”, sending cards, making and delivering dishes, picking up groceries for those that have “done their time”, and on and on I could go with how the “over 50” group spends their time. So, yes……..we do feel a little “entitlement” to some extra time away, spending a little more time on the golf course, taking bus trips, etc.

    As someone mentioned in one of the comments below, our energy levels are not as high as they once were, but we are not dead yet and we do want to enjoy life a little. In case you don’t realize it, each generation has something they look forward to at each stage of their life. Realizing those dreams is what keeps us going! Without dreams, we are dead!

    Now, lets turns that around and focus on integrating each stage of life in our participation in the church. No generation or stage of life should take precedence or focus on/over another! Yes, raising the youth to a better understanding of Christ and the true meaning of life is VERY important. But if we focus on the youth, that is just enabling even more an “entitlement” orientation that is hard to overcome once they get to the “over 50” stage. Just think about how much time THEY will spend on the golf course, taking bus trips, and relaxing they would think they are “entitled” to.

    It is very easy to sit back and look at the “over 50” generation and only see the “entitlement” aspect of it, but you are not seeing all the other things we are doing now that we have more time. I can understand that youth are very near and dear to your heart and the “entitled” are not as important. We ARE ministering. We ARE praying for the youth. We ARE supporting the youth. It’s just that now we have MORE things to do now that we are “over 50”, and yes, that does include relaxing more! We HAVE done our time, but we are not done yet. We just happen to “do” our things a little differently and take a little more time to do it. We ARE slower, mentally and physically, but that doesn’t mean we are through!

    You are still young and have a lot to learn! This article almost makes you look as if you are sitting back and sneering at the “over 50” people! It is almost a double standard sound! Don’t make one generation a negative while trying to build up another!

    • Frankly Frank on October 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Pam makes some pretty good points and the article, while probably well intended to keep the old generation from relaxing in kingdom work, smacks of some ageism as well. I’m over 60 and haven’t slowed down at all, except I can’t quite do what I used to do even though I would like to. I think stereotyping older people as the one’s who take bus trips (instead of attending rock concerts or settling into the bar for a long night) of “fellowship”) in the use of their time might be taking the negative approach while attempting to encourage positive ministry. Young man, listen to the wisdom that is coming your way.

    • Pat on February 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Well said Pam. I became a widow at 40 and was automatically “promoted” to the elderly widow section of the church because I didn’t seem to fit in any of the prescribed groups in the church. Now over 60 I am still working… because I love my work and still involved in many areas of the church. I may not be involved in teaching the junior high class that nobody else wanted, or Sunday School superintendent (for 12 years) or women’s ministry but I do coffee service, greeting, nursery and play for services. Yes, some people are fortunate to retire at age 50 and have marvellous opportunities to take advantage of while they can. In the area and economy I live in I and for many I know we will be working as full/part time as long as we can. So …. don’t stereotype anyone…. as far as ability, age, etc. Thankfully we are only accountable to ONE who knows our hearts and our abilities!

  11. Katy on October 5, 2016 at 9:27 am

    This article nails it! I hit 60 and boom….. my opportunity for involvement at the church vanished! I was useless except to fold bulletins and hold a baby in the nursery. Yes, both are legitimate jobs and can be part of my involvement in my church, but sheesh….I have so much more to offer. I’m not old and unable to move, or think, or talk. Give me something meaningful to do!

  12. Rockerfeller on October 5, 2016 at 7:46 am

    I think one of the side effects of focusing a ministry, even building a church targeted at younger people, is that you don’t really have much to offer older people. Hence the exodus. Let’s be honest, sometimes the church isn’t even trying. All it wants, it seems, is the financial resources and the service of older people. If a congregation wants to be multi-generational, it has to be willing to make sacrifices that allow for that

    Many churches have ran off the older Christians in their quest to reach a younger generation. The goal is worthy, but the way it was done wasn’t.

    • Procrastin8er on October 5, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Can you be more specific on what you feel the church should be offering older people, in addition to inviting them to give and serve others? What kind of sacrifices would prevent an exodus?

      • Susan Shelko on October 10, 2016 at 11:53 am

        First the rock band problem. Those really cool strobe lights and wild patterned carpeting — along with the ear piercing music — my very good friend has a service dog and a physical illness whereby she cannot tolerate such a narley new fangled hipster approach.

        Translation: the music hurts the service dog’s ears and he howls loudly and the combination lights, carpet and music causes her to throw up all over said wild patterned carpet — and if that isn’t bad enough, she is left with a debilitating migraine. Awesome!

        So church built upon a rock — rock band, that is — automatically eliminates 50% of the churches in my community. She can’t go!

        How many other “older folks” have similar problems — whether that be inner ear issues, hearing loss or ringing in their ears, etc.
        What the teens and 30 somethings (along with their hip pastors) think is the coolest thing in town is downright painful for others.

        Next the message (or sermon) problem. Lets see … it’s book of the month club with a local celebrity comedian, motivational speaker and life coach (pastor). Scripture is window dressing as we learn how to unclutter our lives, dream our dreams and stay optimistic.

        An older man or woman who knows the Lord and walks with the Lord and loves Holy Scripture and prays with love and intimacy is not going to put up with such nonsense. You can market this any way you wish, but it isn’t the gospel and it isn’t Christianity.

        Third problem: the church has lost its first love and its primary focus on the gospel — to know nothing except Christ and Christ crucified. The new priority is: food pantry, diabetes run, shoe drive, homeless outreach, addiction treatment, grief therapy, etc..

        There are a multitude of other groups (i.e., social service agencies and non-profits) that are doing far better and more efficiently job than any church could ever do in terms of social service/ outreach.
        Why do we need church to duplicate what is already being done?

        The city runs a food pantry. The diabetes association sponsors the diabetes run. The fire department conducts a shoe drive. A local couple started a 501(c)(3) for the homeless. We have AA, NA and other 12 step groups. A local hospice has a community grief group.

        What we have is this: The church does what isn’t needed — social service activities that other groups do a far better job at doing. The church doesn’t do what God himself called it to do — proclaim the gospel and make disciples! Save time, volunteer directly!

        And if the “gospel message” is actually presented, it is limited to only upbeat, happy and positive. Words such as “sin”, “judgment”, “hell”, “repentance”, “deny self”, “take up cross”, “follow me” — and like words — are carefully downplayed or completely omitted.

        The Easter Bunny and Minions show up during the church service. There is a Frisbee throw in the middle of the sanctuary to welcome newcomers. The Star Wars cast (Princess Leigh too) helps draw names for the Apple Watch give-away. That’s modern-day church.

        Can we spell s-a-c-r-e-l-i-d-g-e? Can we spell m-o-c-k-e-r-y? Can we spell p-r-o-f-a-n-e- a-l-l- t-h-a-t- i-s- s-a-c-r-e-d- a-n-d- h-o-l-y?

        So the Great Commission, remember that, is no longer baptize, teach and make disciples. We no longer train and equip believers for ministry. It is now: go out into your communities and create life change — meeting the felt needs of all the people you meet.

        Then if you go to a mainstream denomination — that older couple with a decades old marriage. Inclusiveness means rainbow colored clerical garb and same sex marriage proposals in the middle of the church service. Yeah, that’s going to go over really well. Not!

        Can you not see the reason for the exodus? and can you not see why the church is in decline? Lord have mercy. God help us all.

  13. Aaron Stimpson on October 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    This is one reason I got fired from youth ministry. I thought that the older generations had something to offer my youth in small groups. My pastor didn’t feel the same. I love this article. You’re not done until you’re dead.

  14. Cynthia on October 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I hope a lot of churches see this. My husband and I are in our fifties, both still working full time, with married children but also one still in college. We recently visited a new church because we are impressed with their commitment to outreach, but have been disappointed to find that all the “Life Groups” are generally grouped by age. We would love to see them group by general geographic area, with a commitment to all ages working together to meet and reach our neighbors, in addition to the benefits of intergenerational fellowship in the group itself.

  15. Mark Butler on October 3, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I have been blessed with a wonderful example in my father (74 yrs old) who serves his local church and is a part of a group of men who meet weekly for lunch and plan/serve widows and those in need in the community they call themselves ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out). My favorite comment my dad made even after a health scare is “When God calls me to heaven’s shore I am not going in oars up” it is such a great picture for me to follow.

  16. Bob’s Links – Sep 26-Oct 2 | Bob's Links on October 3, 2016 at 6:54 am

    […] Shut Down the Bus Tours: What Older Church Members Should Really Be Doing (Carey Nieuwhof) “So how do you engage older church attendees… say people over age 50?” […]

  17. Rebeccalynn Smith on October 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Carey,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to engage folks who are in the “Encore” portion of their lives in meaningful ministry . Most of the people in my congregation are in this category of “retirement” and items you discuss in this blog came up in conversation earlier this week. May I share your blog in a condensed format in our upcoming newsletter?

    I’ve appreciated reading the comments … and keep in mind that we are all in Jesus Christ’s mission, that of bringing about the kingdom of God here on earth so that all will know of God’s love…

    God’s continued blessings on your ministry and the mission of Jesus Christ!

  18. PaulWilkinson on October 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

    In the Christian bookstore environment where I spend about half of my week, I engage with many twenty-somethings, and I often wonder how receptive they will be to someone from another generation, but am usually surprised by the degree to which they allow me speak into their life.

  19. Char Seawell on October 1, 2016 at 8:31 am

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I committed financial suicide to retire early from a 30 year teaching career to care for my 95 year old mom in our home. Then she passed on that summer. I looked around me over this last year at friends who were snowbirds/traveling/hanging out. We played music at senior residences and meet healthy seniors who seemed a little trapped in their “homes” still eager for meaning. And I looked around and asked myself, “Is this all there is?” I told my husband I did not want to meet my Maker and talk about my relaxed last third of life. There is kingdom work to be done. As an “elder” in my church and as a former “contemporary worship leader” in several churches and church plants, here is what I observed.

    1). Older folks do not give younger pastors much credit. These pastors are, in my experience, not serving themselves, they are serving their God and ours in a way that He has called them to do. It is not how the last guy or girl did it. Hallelujah! God is making all things new. Some of the most Christ centered, self sacrificing, community loving people I have encountered are young pastors.

    2). Yes, a different culture is engaged. Again…Hallelujah! Just because it is different does not mean it is inauthentic. If your pastor is wearing jeans and dressing casually, join him or her. God doesn’t care what we wear to church.

    3). Look around at the needs in your church and the needs in your community and seek ways to help with the ways you have been gifted. I happen to love technology. That means I can create mail chimp newsletters for the women’s ministry and help put in youth attendance or the youth pastor. By the way, if being around youth makes you crazy, you can still serve. One of the greatest unspoken needs for youth ministry is cookies for their worship and study groups. Trust me on this! As a former teacher, I adopted a kindergarten teacher and do all her copying, which is a waste of a value resource if she has to spend her time doing it.

    God desires a spirit of gratitude in his people, not a spirit of grumbling. I can’t tell you how many times I have to say, “It is not about us, it’s about the next generation.” If the music is too loud or too different, be a greeter until the music is over and then listen to your favorite hymns on the way home. If you don’t like the preaching style, sit in church and pray that the message will reach the person that needs to hear it today, which might be you. Embrace the way the spirit is moving today…open up your hands to reach out to your community…be an encouragement to every leader in your church.

    Yes, it isn’t always easy, but I always try and remind myself that I am saved already, and that is all the gift I need in this life on earth. Now it’s time to share that gift.

    As always, this is an opinion of one. I don’t normally write diatribes, but this one hit a chord with me having seen pastors and churches hurt by preferences getting in the way of mission and God’s human resources getting squandered.

    • greg walker on October 2, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Thank you for your comment and for your servant’s heart. Your church is blessed to have you.

  20. greg walker on October 1, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Late reading this week. I am waiting to board my flight across the continent back to sunny FL after spending my first anniversary of joining the 50+ club house hunting. My wife and I are about to pack it all up and move to the west coast to plant a church. I ain’t doing any bus trips.

    This is a great post, and I heartily agree, and am disappointed by some of the comments. To those who say that the younger generation doesn’t want to be in relationship with older folks: My observation is that they want to be in a respectful relationship, not an extended childhood, where they are “told” by their elders. When we recognize them as mature adults with valuable experiences and thoughts, they tend to reciprocate. When we offer a diatribe on all that is wrong with the world, and “kids these days,” they tend to be less interested in hearing how screwed up we,think they are.

    To the commenters who are offended that “it’s all about reaching the,young”, I don’t think that is what Carey is advocating. But it’s not about catering to the elders either. The attitude in my current church from my generation is “I did my time.”. That isn’t helpful in reaching the lost. We need everyone, and unless the bus trip is to the homeless camps or another ministry destination, you may be misunderstanding your purpose in the church.

    Oh, and my 70+ parents? They’re selling their starting to make plans to move with us. Although they are serving in their current church, leading a small group and volunteering in the office, the idea of being part of a new thing is stirring them as well.

    Carey is calling us to a new perspective. It may not be convenient, but it is much more fulfilling. Consider his thoughts before you just dismiss it out of hand.

  21. Martin Haglund on October 1, 2016 at 8:21 am

    From 2009-2012, I was the Community Life Director for a 150 suite Stunningly Beautiful Assisted Living Facility which included movie theater, chapel, billiards bar, coffee shop and a central staircase that looked like it came from the Titanic.

    The larger share of the residents once were business owners, well traveled executives educators or high end sales persons. About 20 percent were large farmers and more common folk.

    At least one spouse had medical issues which required access to daily care or observation. 26 of the units were in a separate, but connected, secure building which cared for persons in varying stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Though well staffed and gorgeous, most of the residents initially suffered from a mild depression and didn’t use the theater, chapel, billiards or coffee shop even when their families visited. All were large enough to host 35 – 50 persons.

    I was 56 at the time and recognizing in myself an increasing sense of diminished utility to the ministerial world. I’d been, and still am looking for pastoral ministry without success.

    I noted that whenever I felt challenged with a Purpose outside my own issues, I thrived.

    I investigated psychological studies on purposelessness and determined to discover the skills, hot buttons and hobbies of the residents so that I might develop a strategy to create Community and Purpose to help them alleviate their loneliness and depression.

    I started by interviews of residents and the young health care workers. I asked for and obtained permission to share this history and as well struggles within the community.

    I kept data of interests, family, and skills gleaned from their careers. The residents were initially enlisted merely to pray for their care givers based on their new knowledge of who these young women were. The care givers were enlisted to help the resident create an entryway that represented who they were and are.

    From this humble start, fitness groups started, miniature golf tournaments inside the facility were established, the coffee shop was continuously full of conversation and on Thursday a Mocha Bar. Billiard competitions developed, guests hosts were enlisted for select movies with theme dinners and elegant attire events.

    Beneath all the Community Activity was a spirit of prayer and caring for One Another.

    Intergenerational activities became the standard.

    Whole families came often including grandchildren and great grandchildren.

    Best of all, statistics proved that falls decreased, strength increased, medication for depression decreased, longevity rose. Percent of occupancy increased and stabilized. Unfortunately, that was not what the owners of the facility wanted. They wanted activities without spiritual underpinnings.

    They attempted to change my job description to exclude all spiritual input including chapel advocacy. Sarah and I prayed, grieved the proposed changes and I resigned.

    2.5 years later, a sense of Community no longer exists, the hallways are silent, turnover is back to being problematic and depression haunts everyone who goes to visit…as well as the staff and residents.

  22. Saturday Links - DashHouse - on October 1, 2016 at 4:10 am

    […] Shut Down the Bus Tours: What Older Church Members Should Really Be Doing […]

  23. perry on September 30, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I think the more ” wise and mature” Christians have been given the boot. Many have been told to leave if they didn’t like the direction the church was going. They got tired of being labeled as controversial when they objected to the seeker friendly ways of the younger “smarter” pastors in churches today. They know the faith being spread in most pulpits oops I mean off the stools today won’t hold up during the trials that they know are coming. They know the trials are coming because they have been thru them. They’ve been told, we really don’t care what music you like we are not trying to reach 80 year olds we cater to the young crowd. They might think the purpose of the church is to equip the saint not entertain the sinner, but church leaders today know if church isn’t entertaining the sinner may never come back. We can’t do that because we have make sure we grow the numbers.

    • T Chil on October 1, 2016 at 6:30 am

      Amen and Amen… and on top of this “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15.

    • Rockerfeller on October 5, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Perry, you are right on. The whole “You’re being Selfish” is priceless and sadly it is true. You don’t have to be over 50 to see how the younger pastors of today have re-shaped the churches into their image of what church must be.

      I won’t be a part of any church that is NOT multi-generational. I want to see a lot of younger families and a lot of grey hair. I don’t care how good the “band” is, if you don’t have old people, I won’t be there.

  24. Dave Telling on September 30, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Interesting observations. I’m soon to be 65, and am semi-retired. My income has dropped significantly since being laid off from my former position (I was/am an electronics design engineer), so my financial status is not as rosy as others. My wife and I have struggled with this issue of how the church should deal with the different age groups, and I would tend to echo what others have said about the younger folks not wanting to spend time with us older folks. The reasons for this come form both sides of the age “fence”. Much of what younger people like as far as music and other media is either distasteful or literally painful to many older people. Younger people tend to have a certain amount of contempt for the old folks who don’t “get it”, whether it be about social issues or technology. Older people are put off by the arrogance of young folks (although to be fair, we were often the same at the same age). Young people have much more energy and want to do things that use that energy, many of us older folks are worn out at the end of the day, and don’t have the physical strength to do things like that. What I think older people find most offensive is the idea that young people are the only group on which the church should focus. Music, media, activities – all tend to lean toward the younger crowd. The concept of singing worship songs more than a year old or (heaven forbid) hymns causes eyes to roll and typically results in a “you can’t live in the past, God is always doing something new, you have to GET WITH IT!!!!” Older people are often marginalized and made to feel like they are standing in the way of progress. Our local church is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. I have been told, when asking if the music volume could be turned down, that “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!”, but on the other hand, my wife and I are still seen as people who love and support our local church. We try to spend time with the younger folks, and we have been invited on some of the hikes & other physical activities, but we can’t do some of them. We enjoy some of the contemporary songs, but also find great theology and comfort in some of the older songs and hymns. I think that finding ways to incorporate older people into church ministries is great, and we have done just about everything you can do in a church in our 40+ years as believers, but trying to force social interaction where there is a strong mindset against it may not work out that well. Another factor to consider is that older people often have children and grandchildren who live out of the area. In the summer, particularly, we travel to visit them and are gone quite a few Sundays. In addition, we participate in other community activities that interfere with some church ministries (not too many Sundays – just a few times a year). People who have worked hard most of their lives look forward to having more freedom and recreational activities, and it is hard to commit to something that makes it very difficult to travel or do other things that mean that you’ll not be at church. I agree that church staff should look for ways to build upon the wisdom and (hopefully) patience and grace of the older crowd, but just like as in so many other areas of society, there needs to be a fundamental change in the way that the two groups view one another.

  25. Rev. Dr. John Landis on September 30, 2016 at 11:41 am

    My opinion on this I find to be very controversial . . . not with millennials but with those over 60. (BTW I am over 60 🙂 ). I believe that, in general the two groups need to be autonomous to function and exist on their own. I think that the needs, expectations and methods of both groups need to be specifically addressed and therefore segregated. Both groups have widely divergent needs and interests. Both groups are willing to serve but in widely divergent ways.

    Neither group wants to be integrated with the other (contrary to what they say) and spend so much time discussing how to integrate but fighting integration that they focus internally out of self defense. But as you indicated most 20 somethings don’t want to spend their time with 70 somethings! There can be points of contact, particularly in jointly held visions of mission and ministry. But to expect the age groups to function as an integrated group is counter productive, in my opinion and observation.

    It is my genuine belief that God is redesigning (not re-purposing) “Church” to meet the needs of the future world. Not redesigning the purpose but the methods of delivery. I remain unconvinced that the older generation (in general) is willing to accommodate what the church is becoming and is therefore an obstacle to what God is doing. God is phasing out church as we know it (as opposed to ending it suddenly) in order to honor and provide for the needs of the older generation However the coming church I believe will be so radically different that the older generation will not be able to deal with it. The coming church must remain unencumbered by having to conform to the methodology and requirements of the current church.

    Carey, I agree with you on point 4. The older generation needs to be willing to support and resource the necessary changes for the younger generation. That is the best case scenario. But for whatever reason they do not seem to be willing to do so, at least not in my experience. Both groups seem to me conserve their resources, financial, intellectual, and time for their own use, as if God would not provide what is needed.

    All of this is my opinion and I am still doing the research to support it, but if this hypothesis is valid we will need to reevaluate how we do church for the next 10 years, how we do ministry and how we resource the work of the church.. I am interested in your opinion and the opinions of the readers of this blog. I highly value both.

    • Char Seawell on October 1, 2016 at 8:34 am

      I totally agree with you, and I am 65:-).

  26. Brent Steeves on September 29, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    First, welcome to the club! I joined it myself last year. I have read your blogs and followed your insight for a couple of years. Your best is yet to come Carey. I hear your heart in this post. I don’t always hear your heart. Sometimes its hidden behind your mind (and your mind is pretty darn sharp!). 50 is a milestone, an achievement of sorts. There is a freedom of speaking and thought that seems to accompany this stage of life. Your passion is shining through in this post–and your wisdom and experience is evident. When those elements combine there is power. Embrace it and continue to lead those of us who look to you for insight. This post will be the subject matter for discussion at my next staff meeting. Thanks again for caring enough to do what you do.

  27. Annette Wells on September 29, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    While I wholeheartedly agree that seniors still need to have opportunity to serve, I also think there needs to be a balance. You ask, “What am I entitled to as a person over 50?” — nothing is correct, but I think that is the answer for people of any age. Yes, we need to work together, but when I am told that someone else needs to be the ones to engage the young adults because I am now too old to relate, I don’t think so.
    Over 50s may need to sacrifice for the sake of the younger generation, but I don’t believe they have to sacrifice all of their enjoyment at church. There is nothing wrong with having a hymn sing or other kind of worship that older people are going to enjoy. Who knows, maybe some of the younger fold would actually enjoy it too if they were willing to give it a chance!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      I hear what you’re saying Annette, but I would gladly trade off everything I like if it meant we had a church where faith beat in the next generation. I’ve been in far too many churches where there 12 people left who liked it just the way it was. Last one out…turn out the lights. I just don’t want to see that happen any more, and certainly not on my watch. So my preferences will take a back seat to a greater mission.

      • Hannah on September 30, 2016 at 6:42 am

        Really? Please read that again and realize just how arrogant you sound!

        Seniors may not be ENTITLED to anything, but we are still God’s children and we need to be fed as well. The greater mission encompasses the entire church, not just younger people! You make it sound as though our entire focus as seniors should be on conserving youth in the church. Well that has not worked for the last 30 years. Adding more contemporary music, blaring guitars, pounding drums, and ideologies such as the emergent church and the ecumenical movement have done more to harm the church than help it.

        Church membership continues to decline, not because seniors are not involved, but because somewhere along the line the church decided they didn’t need to preach the gospel of Christ. But instead they feed their congregation a steady diet of pablum…soft, unoffensive, “feel good” food. The church is dying because it is starving to death at the hands of church leadership….pastors, administrators, and more pastors for every single conceivable “group” in the church.

        When the entire church is fed baby food out of FEAR of offending children, teens, youth, young people and old people…when the church tries to be ALL THINGS to ALL PEOPLE it WILL DIE. Church growth has NOTHING to do with how involved seniors are. It has nothing to do with how involved teens are. It has to do with how involved the hearts of the church are, how on fire for CHRIST the people are. And in this day and age of “feel good” church targeted mainly at teenagers, the church is starving to death.

        Christ said “feed my sheep.” So I suggest you get started before they all leave.

        • T Chil on October 1, 2016 at 6:34 am

          Amen, let’s get back on track and do what God says, the church growth movement at all costs is building empires for leaders, not Christ.

          • Char Seawell on October 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

            I am so sorry this has been your experience. We have found our young, on mission pastor to be totally Christ centered and Biblical in his preaching. And I agree with Susan that becoming involved in study at home is so rewarding, especially with commentaries. Here’s a funny story to end with. Our pastor is gifted in memory of scripture. He would deliver the text directly to us as though we were hearing it for the first time. It moved me to tears to hear God’s word spoken over me anew, so I could only imagine the effect on new hearers of the word. He no longer does that. Why? Apparently he was not being Biblical in his sermons because He wasn’t using God’s word, at least the way it was supposed to be used.



        • Susan Shelko on October 1, 2016 at 9:06 pm

          Hannah and Annette,
          I am not sure that this new model of “doing church” is going to change. It seems to be the future. I see two choices: one, find a way to stay at a seeker friendly church and get fed spiritually apart from church (i.e., on line sermons and blogs and solid home Bible studies, etc.) or two, find one of the few remaining churches that is Bible based like a 9 mark church and join and support that church with everything you have. (Or I suppose stop going altogether.)

          Can you come late and miss the rock band? Can you bring ear protection like you would wear for cutting the grass? Maybe you can attend every other week to make it more tolerable with fewer exposures? Maybe you could host a Bible study mid-week from your home or meet for breakfast and Bible study at a local restaurant? Do any of your friends have a piano at home and know how to play? You might have a monthly “hymn and praise night” at home?

          Certainly, pray and ask the Lord what he would have you do. I am sure you will be given an answer. Susan

          • Char Seawell on October 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

            Thank you Susan. You offer some great suggestions.



          • Susan Shelko on October 2, 2016 at 8:46 am

            Char,
            A good friend and I began two Bible studies that we co-facilitate midweek. One is on Acts (the Early Church) and the other the Bible Timeline. I set up an account with a Christian publishing company so we had an administrator. We have streaming video with a well-regarded teacher/ lecturer doing the presentations and we have study questions for discussion. We invited all of our friends and neighbors.

            We also invited the pastors and their congregations to join us. This is where it gets interesting. Would you ever have thought that Christian clergy would oppose Bible studies? Now we’re not talking about questionable studies. The publisher has won best of the best awards. We are viewed as a threat and as the competition. We charge not one cent – just buy your study guide. It was eye opening to say the least.

            I think our experience says it all with respect to what is happening in the churches. Upon what do you build your church – on rock or on sand?
            Susan



          • Craig Giddens on October 8, 2016 at 9:42 am

            …. a lot of churches appear to be building on rock ….. music.



          • chimom1 on February 12, 2017 at 3:43 pm

            Sorry to hear that. A growing church tries to direct and accomodate those who wish to serve. Yes, there may be some questions to be sure the goal is in line with serving God and bringing people to Christ or building relationships to that end, but your experience is surely disheartening. Keep on studying and following your heart



          • Susan Shelko on February 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm

            It’s okay Chirmom1. Four month later and I am official done with institutional church. The 9 marks church I was attending decided to turn their weekly community group into a group therapy session without the therapist. When they say, “We do life together,” they mean “We have no boundaries and we share everything and anything.” Imagine a total stranger telling us all about her psychiatric history along with a whole lot more. (Yep! When I complained and objected and said it wasn’t healthy or appropriate, I was told that they like it that way and that it was my problem.)

            If I wanted a 12 step program, I would find a 12 step program. If I wanted group therapy, I would find a licensed and competent therapist to lead a therapy group. I haven’t been back, and if ever I am tempted to go back to that church or any other church, I will just bring to mind my prior experience. The Bible studies, on the other hand, are doing great. We are finishing up Acts and plan to do a Lenten study on Ephesians. Maybe if enough people do what I am doing (leave for good), the Church will figure it out and reform itself.



        • BeckyV on October 2, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          you have to ask yourself too, is turning the music down a smidge and the house lights up a little such an unreasonable request? It isn’t. Well, unless it’s all about the look of the experience and not serving the people. 🙁

      • Rockerfeller on October 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

        Carey, I am with you on that one. But, the church is in mega decline right now and it seems the younger generation is passing on faith. You have to ask why that is happening?

        In large part, it is because the church has shifted her focus to reaching non-Christians, instead of nurturing, feeding and equipping believers. Believers come to these surfaces week after week and leave malnourished. After a while, they just stop coming. What is the point?

        Combine that with services that entertain and lack real substance, the seekers come, look around and think “There is nothing here, this Christianity thing must be a joke.”

        There are some congregations that do better at this than others, but I think the current version of “This is how you do church” has been tried and found wanting.

        Should we double down on this idea of church or look elsewhere?

        • Susan Shelko on October 9, 2016 at 7:32 pm

          Beg or borrow or buy a copy of The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. It explains everything. I read the book and I had an epiphany as to what is unfolding in the Christian churches.

          • Rockerfeller on October 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

            I am VERY familiar with it!



        • John Boy on October 10, 2016 at 7:30 am

          Maybe young people just don’t learn to take Christianity seriously because they don’t really see any evidence of it being taken seriously by their elders. Instead of seeing eminent older Christians whose lives are devoted to serving Christ, living examples of Christianity maturity and of what the Christian life should look like, they generally just see people who are living very relaxed and comfortable and contented lives, taking pleasure in the things of this world, showing no sense of devotion to God, or of urgency and of being on a mission to seek the lost. Logic (and Christian biography) would suggest that the more Christians mature, the more detached they should grow from the pleasures of this world, the more worthless it should all feel in comparison with what is eternal.

          • Rockerfeller on October 10, 2016 at 8:27 am

            That is a good observation. I would take it one step further. If the followers of Christ are not really following Christ on a consistent basis, I think that this generation of Church leaders is very much to blame. Their version of “Church” heavily influences how Christians understand their faith, and the scriptures that guide that faith. Feed them stale bread and water long enough and they grow sickly.

            If today’s church leaders develop and implement their preferred method of doing church AND the church implodes and everybody leaves it, THAT is on them.



          • John Boy on October 10, 2016 at 10:36 am

            We seem to live in an age where being a pastor is treated as a 9-till-5 job, and not regarded as a lifetime calling and gifting from God. These hireling ‘pastors’ place self-imposed restrictions on what they consider their responsibilities and duties and reduce their labours to what is convenient rather than striving towards the ideal. There seems to be a prevailing attitude that as long as a pastor has spent enough time preparing his sermons, he has done sufficient. Everything else is regarded as superfluous, or even as undermining the supremacy of preaching (though whether two dry lectures delivered on Sundays constitute a biblical conception of ‘preaching’ is doubtful).

            If often feels that enough of a distinction isn’t drawn between teaching and preaching. We live in days where we try to cram everything into two Sunday services – a bit of prayer, a bit of singing, a sermon aimed at both believers and unbelievers. By trying to kill all birds with one stone, we probably fail to do anything very effectively – everyone is catered for in a deficient manner and so, as you say, believers grow sickly on the diet that is fed to them. We don’t often hear Calvin’s method of preaching to his congregation ten times every fortnight held up as desirable pattern to follow. Nor to preachers venture out of church doors into public places to preach the Gospel where non-Christians are actually gathered, but are content to wait for non-Christians to come to hear them in the churches.

            In some recent blogs I’ve seen I’ve been astonished at how much pastoral visitation is being condemned as being unbiblical and detrimental to a church. And it’s been disturbing seeing how many pastors agree with this assessment. They don’t seem to recognise how much mere words from the pulpit (however sound) can just wash over people, and how much people actually need real visible examples of people living out the faith, and how powerful a testimony it could be for church members to have the opportunity to see how the pastor behaves outside of the pulpit in real life.

            The pastor of the church I attend often says how important it is that the pastor practices what he preaches, and the implication always is that he is just such a man – but we are just expected to take his word for it. Yet people’s experience of his behaviour outside of the pulpit over many years is actually quite contrary to how he presents himself in his sermons. He often throws in anecdotes of admirable things he’s said or done in the past, and yet these examples often seem incompatible with what people have experienced of him for themselves. By hiding away in their studies preparing sermons, pastors don’t get the opportunity to really demonstrate that they are men of integrity who are worthy of being listened to.



          • chimom1 on February 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm

            That’s sad. My pastors, paternal team,,leaders and congregation members take pastoral visits very seriously. We encourage everyone to listen to the still small,voice that say, hey, call Susan, drop a card to George, invite Jin for tea. That’s a pastoral,visit.



    • chimom1 on February 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      When I was a teen in the 70s, I loved trying to integrate ‘folk songs ‘ with more traditional worship. However, it also excited me to find a hymnal from the early 1900s and use that music as well. I still enjoy many types of music. I do however, believe both the first song and the last of each service should be something 80% of the congregation is familiar with. If your congregation is standing during the final song, preparing to go forth and no one but the worship team is singing, you’ve lost a powerful punch. Be flexible

  28. Cory MacNeil on September 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Great post, Carey! I agree. The older generation is one of the biggest untapped resources for the Kingdom. We too are learning that young folks enjoy spending time with older folks. You’re mention of the 30 year vacation was right on the mark! Thank you for pointing out the importance of emphasizing mission rather than consumption.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      30 year vacation. Man, I can hardly handle two weeks!

  29. Garrick Conner on September 29, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts. I lead our church’s adult discipleship ministries, which also involves 55+, mental health, community outreach, etc. For me, ministry to the over-50 crowd is all about balance. It’s absolutely essential for maturing and senior adults to be involved in Kingdom-focused ministries and mission efforts. There’s something seriously wrong with any congregation where that demographic is sitting on the sidelines as grey-haired consumers. However, I’ve seen many churches shift in recent years, putting so much time, money, and attention on younger generations that the older members feel neglected. Those who have poured their lives into the church are already arguably on-mission. I think it’s important to provide them with opportunities to connect with others through fellowship activities, just as it’s important to provide them with meaningful ways to use their unique gifts to serve the church and community. I think when it comes to ministry — especially with senior adults who are often lonely and less mobile — offering some well-planned, hassle-free day trips (or even a few nights away) can go a long way toward meeting their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. I’ve even seen these opportunities become effective ways reach out to others. I appreciate your thought-provoking leadership insights.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks for your ministry Garrick. I think the greatest fulfilment still comes in giving.

    • T Chil on October 1, 2016 at 6:34 am

      The “church” thinks we are senile and treats us like morons.

  30. ralph juthman on September 29, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    This is a great kick in the pants for everyone our generation Carey. I am pastoring in Lotus land, Vancouver Isalnd. The home of everything gray and white. My church is very much a reflection of the community demographic. I have a handful of young families. Both generation are saying the same thing to me, “What are you ( the church) going to do for me? Both generations need to hear this. The older needs to hear that life is not about them. The younger need the same message. I love your phrase, ‘The mission is the mission.” I have just begun conversations about vision and purpose. Of course the default answer is, add another program. But where I desire to do is lead the church through the process of revitalization. It will be long, Tough. But I am looking forward to the ride.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Ralph..love the work you’re doing. It’s a ride worth taking for sure!

  31. Marlene Jiannino Daley on September 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks Carey. I am the food prep lady for functions at church. My two main gifts are Service & Administration. I do what I can & pray that I can continue for years to come and yes, for as long as I can breathe.

  32. Judy on September 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I am a little tired of the idea that people over the age of 50 think they are not valuable, I lead a ladies bible study for women over 50, there are 12 of us and not one I know believes they are invaluable conversely they are offering much! Now more than ever men and women over 50 are investing in the lives of their children and grandchildren, this is the most important mission and more than that they are involved in serving their parents. As well many of us have a position in the church or work within them. Invaluable…I think not.
    Vacations yes…bus tours, whaat?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Good for you Judy!

    • sisteract on September 30, 2016 at 12:35 am

      There’s a big difference in each decade. Many 50-somethings have just launched kids, are empty nesters and are taking time to travel while they are able. As stated, many have aging parents and want to be involved with grandchildren. I found it easier when the kids were home to be involved than now! We seem to be away a lot and committing to leading groups is difficult. We are active physically and in our community but no longer do regular leading. Podcasts and online studies fill in the gaps.

  33. kaj ballantyne on September 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Love this Carey!

    When we launched as a new church we quickly filled up with a lot of people under 30 … I remember desperately asking God for people with more years in their rearview mirror.

    God answered and we now have a great group of older members who aren’t looking for their special cushion on their reserved pew 🙂

    By doing what you’re saying here (calling them into the mission) we’ve attracted those who are really “leaning into the tape at the end of the race”.

    We’ve found that when they are valued as key members in the mission they’re absolute gold (praying, sacrificing, mentoring, caring, serving) … and the more fired up they get about being on mission they attract more people like them!

    We’d be lost at our church without them.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Love this Kaj. Thanks so much man…and so grateful for the difference you and your crew are making in Muskoka!

    • Char Seawell on October 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Love this expression…”leaning into the tape at the end of the race”. I wish I was an artist to paint it. Since I am not, I will try and live it….????

  34. Robin Jordan on September 29, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    To my mind a church in which the 50+ members are not actively involved in ministry and mission is not a New Testament church.

  35. Marlene Jiannino Daley on September 29, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Yes, I totally agree, however, there needs to be more discussion on people over 70. Health, mobility, stamina, focus are all part of aging, but most want to be a part of something without being overly exerted or taxed. I’m 72 & still able to do many things, but I know the day will come when my body will rebel against me. How can we older seniors fit in?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Hey Marlene…great to hear from you! I’m not in my 70s but my parents are. They continue to find ways to contribute. My dad runs a camera at church. My mom helps with the accounting and serves on guest services. They also lead a small group. And as my wife and I have talked about when that day comes for us where our bodies don’t do what we want them to do, the three things pretty much all of us can do is pray, be a friend and introduce people to Jesus. You can do that as long as you have breath.

      • Ryan Shipp on September 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

        We just had a funeral yesterday for a 80+ yr old adult at our church. His physical body had failed him in recent years, but the recurring comment in the room was, “who will now stand in the gap and intercede to God for this church and community?” I didn’t have the privilege of knowing him, but his legacy as a man of prayer will have a lasting impact on me.

  36. ServantHeart2012 on September 29, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Retired six years ago today and am blessed to belong to a church that “gets it” when it comes to the 50+ crowd. I have invited several people my age to my church over the past few years. When they ask; “What kind of activities do you have for people our age?” I have to say “We don’t do bus trips or senior pot lucks . . . it’s way better than that.” Then I explain that we serve in ways that benefit the generations coming along behind us, rather than expecting to be entertained. Some like that and some don’t, but those who take a chance on us nearly always are pleased and gravitate toward our mission.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I love the ‘it’s better than that’ part. Full points!!!!

  37. Mark Sanders on September 29, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I love this! I have said so many times to our older people what a powerful resource they could be to the younger generation. They are all talented, relatable, and loving, but seem to lack confidence that they can make a difference anymore. I think the problem lies more in how many churches have tried to transition. Instead of bringing the older generation along, they have been set aside, marginalized. This has disarmed a powerful sector of the church.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      True…so let’s remobilize. Thanks Mark!

  38. Janet Adams on September 29, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I quickly clicked on this blog when your twitter feed shared the title. My husband and I are now retired as of 3 months ago. We have led an adult Sunday morning group for the last 4 years during the “first service” at our local church. The attendance has grown from 15 to 33+ and all adult ages are invited. We bring in Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, The Truth Project, Ray Vanderlaan and more through their DVD series. The time together has been rich in prayer for one another, building community, and learning to grow up in Christ and be transformed.

    Attendance at this local church has been about 150+ for the last 7 years. The church bulletin does not mention our class/time/meeting place so this time when the next series began, “Prepared” with Andy Stanley, I sent a few graphics to be placed in the weekly bulletin. The graphic was added and the heading listed the class as an “Equipping Class”. An “Equipping Class” is defined on the church’s website as one-time events that meet throughout the year.

    The church web also described the next class that meets after ours during the second service as the “Senior Adults”.

    Description: There is plenty to do for Senior Adults at ______, both physically and spiritually. Every Sunday morning in the ministry center they meet to dig into God’s Word and throughout the year special day trips and events are planned to build relationships and just have a good time getting out of ________! Some of the trips they’ve gone on this past year include a Bald Eagle Nature Tour at ______ Lake, overnight trips to the coast, local theater performances, and a visit to the _____ Zoo in ______.

    Your tags on this blog read: old members / older church members / senior citizens These words are truth but they hurt…are we the retired race horses put out to pasture?

    I appreciate your blog this week and your points are clear and correct.

    Point 3 – If church leaders simply pander to the consumer mindset that characterizes an older lifestyle (cruises, relaxation and rest), they deny a powerful reality that could be leveraged for the mission.

    I have been an administrator for a local school district, a consultant for a publishing company, an educational consultant for a local university and now my husband and I are supposed to go on “field trips”! We are fully aware that living in a small community has limitations. Comments?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Good to hear from you Janet and congratulations on retirement. Keep serving. 🙂 Keep building into the next generation. Ignore the labels. That’s what I’d do. We make our own reality.

  39. Anthony on September 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Thank you so much for this blog. Our church is in a transition phase right now of redoing our platform design, kids ministry, Life Groups, etc. So it has been a unique year so far. The next areas of concern for 2017 are the Student Ministry and the Young Adults. The young adults & students have not had the opportunities to lead, because there is this culture right now of “earning your spot”. My wife and I are hoping we can help make a difference here and not create division but rather unity for the greater cause. This blog really helps give us wording for upcoming conversations with our lead pastor. So thank you so much for all of the blogs, podcast, and information you put out. You are such a blessing! Anthony

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