There is a myth that retirees have all the time in the world. When something needs to be done around the church, or no one else will do it, call a retiree. In truth, retirees are some of the busiest people on the planet.
Many older adults are busier now than when they worked full time. This is due in part to increased family responsibilities, travel and leisure pursuits, medical issues, and the reality that many are remaining in the workforce out of choice or need. My own parents didn’t retire until they were both 85. Older adults today tend to remain more active and engaged than their predecessors.
Boomers are redefining the image of retiree and older adults, and the new definition has major implications for ministry. No longer can it be assumed an older adult will welcome the opportunity to become involved in traditional roles of ministry, especially on a long-term basis. While the desire to serve is still strong, the time required comes at a greater cost. Their time is valuable to them and it better be valuable to us.
Including older adults in your ministry will require creating new possibilities for them to plug in. Forget about relegating older adults to the easy, sideline jobs such as snacks and registration. They want to be in the midst of the action.
- Create ministry opportunities for adults to use their experiences, skills, talents, and hobbies to mentor and teach kids. They may be retired but they have a lot to share.
- Enlist adults for short-term ministry opportunities such as VBS or a month of Sunday School.
- Develop ministry teams that allow several adults to share one task – such as Wednesday night rec leader. This insures the task is done while giving adults the flexibility to serve around their own schedules.
- In addition to enlisting individuals, ask adult classes and groups to sponsor or be responsible for an activity.
Most of all enlist older adults to just be present and love on the kids and their parents. It’s a win for everyone.