Why is the Baby Boomer generation often overlooked by church planters? In answering this question, last week we addressed the myth that Baby Boomers are mostly a reached generation. We argued that Boomers comprise a large portion of the population, are heavily unchurched, and in need of the gospel. This week, we want to offer fresh eyes to see the benefits of Baby Boomers as they relate to church planting.
When you get down to it, Boomers can be valuable members of a church plant. First, as they continue to retire, boomers have significantly more time to serve than others still navigating full-time employment. Thom Rainer notes how Boomers are seeking atypical retirement experiences instead of being “rocking chair” retirees they “still have the spirit of the 60’s” desiring to be different and to make a difference.
Second, they typically bring life experiences invaluable to a new church. These include specific activities such as mentoring, pre-marital counseling and care, and hospital ministries. Because plants are forced to empower people much faster than traditional churches, Boomers can help strengthen the leadership pipeline for new churches.
This happens in many ways. Young, zealous, theologically-equipped pastors are not hard to find today. Praise God for this! But many lack the “professional” or life experience needed to lead a congregation. Boomers represent a generation of expertise waiting to be harnessed.
Boomers also offer a fresh set of eyes. When constructing the Disney parks, it is said that Mr. Disney would get on his knees to critique everything. He understood the value of perspective. Young planters would do well to see their city and ministry through different sets of eyes. Boomers can offer this.
Third, Boomers are likely to make a greater financial contribution to new churches than other generations. A 2009 Barna study noted that 50% of money given to churches came from boomers (more than double that of other generations). Even though Boomers are continuing to retire, they will continue to have discretionary financial resources to support their churches.
So Church Planter, what does your church look like? Is your church disproportionally comprised of younger adults? If so, you may be overlooking an untapped wealth of resources. Go find the Baby Boomers. Preach the gospel to them, invite them to church, leverage their years of seasoned life experience and connections, and put them to work. You might just be surprised with what happens.