Faith and Family: Aging well as a baby boomer — Regardless of age, life is full of ways to bring glory to God

Faith and Family: Aging well as a baby boomer — Regardless of age, life is full of ways to bring glory to God

Dean of the School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

Scripture offers several examples of senior saints who were used by God in their latter years. Moses began his mission at the age of 83 (Ex. 7:7). Caleb knew nothing of retirement, as he told Joshua he could lead a military campaign at age 85 (Josh. 14:10–11). Luke records that Anna faithfully served the Lord in her extreme old age (Luke 2:36–37).

Throughout my years in ministry I have known many seniors. Some seem to reach a certain point and determine to be elderly. Others remain active and alert into their 80s and beyond.

As many believers approach mid-life and beyond, they become more committed to evangelism, missions outreach and end-times prophecy. Senior saints who are not limited by a full-time job are more apt to participate in missions trips than any time before in their lives. They see the value of sharing the gospel effectively, so they commit to learning and witnessing. Some consider the return of Jesus a more welcome thought than having to face death, so biblical eschatology captures their attention.

Needs over wants

Something else I have discovered is that seniors are often more generous than younger generations. They have fewer urges to binge purchase in order to satisfy fleeting desires. In large part this is because of their maturity which allows them to prioritize needs over wants. They often have fewer debt obligations and more disposable income so they often give more. They also see the value of rewarding commitment so they are more inclined to give to missionaries, outreach groups and scholarship funds.

Each senior believer also has a story to share. Almost 30 years ago, just weeks before I started my seminary training, I had the opportunity to visit with my 85-year-old grandfather.

We talked about life and death, and he shared with me about how he trusted Christ for salvation as an 11-year-old boy. He began to talk about a passage of Scripture that was especially meaningful to him.

Though he could not remember the passage he knew the content. The passage was Ecclesiastes 12. When I began reading the Scripture to him, he seemed to be at peace. He went home to his Lord that next week.

So what was the content of that passage that captured the spiritual attention of an 11-year-old boy in 1912? Ecclesiastes 12:1–7 reads:

So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the days approach when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them;’

Before the suns and the light are darkened, and the moon and stars, and the clouds return after the rain;

On the day when the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, the women who grind cease because they are few, and the ones who watch through the windows see dimly,

And the doors at the street are shut while the sound of the mill fades; when one rises at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint.

Also, they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry has no effect; for man is headed to his eternal home, and mourners will walk around in the street;

Before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the jar is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken into the well;

And dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the Spirit returns to God who gave it.

Aging is a reality

Getting up with the birds reminds me of my grandmother who was always up hours before we were so we would have a hot breakfast when we visited. The careful reader will see other references to aging, including references to loss of joy, loss of sight, loss of hearing and loss of teeth. The writer notes the desire to stay in unless there is a reason to go out. They have lost the spring in their step and they have a legitimate fear of falling.

Physical aging is a reality and there is no shame in it. Like the blossoms of the almond tree, the older adult’s head is covered with white. Gray hair is a sign of God’s grace and accumulated wisdom. Embrace the gray.

Before the arrow on the bow’s silver cord is loosed, before the body releases the Spirit that inhabits it, think regularly, meditate repetitively and remind yourself constantly that this life is your opportunity to bring God glory.


Ways churches can engage baby boomers

As baby boomers work less and have more discretionary time, churches have an opportunity to engage them in ministry in new and exciting ways. Churches can engage older adults in missions opportunities by:

  1. Making an intentional commitment to emphasize service for older adults.
  2. Serving on intergenerational teams and reaching out to a variety of generations.
  3. Finding age-appropriate means of evangelism.
  4. Allowing many different starting points for new ministry.
  5. Finding creative ways to integrate older adults into the community.
  6. Partnering with other churches to utilize retirees.

Source: “Creating New Opportunities For Older Adults to Serve: 50+ Age Adults Reaching Outside the Walls of the Church” by Amy Hanson, copyright Leadership Network,


Utilizing baby boomers in the Church

As the baby boomers reach their retirement years, the Church is faced with the challenge of adapting ministry to meet the needs and expectations of this generation. The baby boomers have a reputation for being independent and determined, and they bring this spirit into the Church. Some will continue to enjoy the potlucks, bus tours and conferences that traditionally have been part of senior adult life in the Church. Others will seek adventure — missions trips to new places, church planting projects or opportunities to use their professional skills in new ways.

Their need for meaningful relationships will not change and may even grow in importance, writes Amy Hanson, author of “Churches Responding to the Age Wave: Top Innovations in Older Adult Ministry” (

The following resources may provide leaders with ideas to reach baby boomers and re-envision ministry to older adults.

  • Baby Boomers and Beyond: Tapping the Ministry Talents and Passions of Adults Over 50 by Amy Hanson (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
  • A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors by James M. Houston and Michael Parker (IVP Academic, 2011)
  • Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century: An Inquiry Approach by Richard H. Gentzler Jr. (Discipleship Resources, 2008)
  • Senior Adult Ministry in the 21st Century: Step-By-Step Strategies for Reaching People Over 50 by David P. Gallagher (Wipf & Stock, 2006)
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Boomer Ministry Guide by Bill Craig and Donna Gandy (LifeWay, 2009)

(All available at and other booksellers)