With the aging of the United States population, the baby boomers are making history again. The book, Baby Boomers and Beyond: Tapping the Ministry Talents and Passions of Adults over Fifty, describes different ways to reinvent ministry to incorporation baby boomers.
Hanson posits that a Christian look at retirement reveals that after age fifty, people become assistants to their brothers because they are to “watch and guard the structure and ordinances regarding God’s dwelling place.” The Church needs to: let go of the one size fits all mentality; expand the ministry; integrate older adults into all aspects of the Church; avoid certain words such as old, elderly, senior, golden-ager; use the concepts of adults fifty and better, life after fifty, second half ministries, or encore generation; employ a balanced approach; and change the role of the older adult leader.
The author cautions that baby boomers become engaged when they feel that they are doing “something interesting and challenging,” and when they feel that their “work will make a significant social impact.” They also need to know how their work contributes to God’s mission, be able to have short assignments, or do things on their own terms including working on their own projects. Women boomers, for example, want to use their specific talents and skills. Men need to know how to use their time for the Kingdom’s impact. The Church should take time to tell how boomers can be contributing to God’s work; increase the value of volunteer work; become outward focused; challenge people before they reach retirement; and lead people into finding their place of service because, like Jesus, that is what they are called to do.
The book provides a demographic profile of the aging population of the United States useful in strategic programming and planning. It reveals important information about aging. Hanson addresses the different myths regarding the aging process held by religious groups and society at large. She claims that while seniors were the “builder generation,” the “new old” or the baby boomers strive to stay young. Baby boomers, 78 million of them born between 1946 and 1964, can now be the new force behind any ministry due to their desire to stay engaged with life and to continue to do something productive. The Church, however, needs to move past existing myths about older adults.
Amy Hanson convincingly demonstrates that baby boomers will bring talent and passion to ministry because they want to continue to do productive work. She persuasively argues that the Church needs to use a new approach to integrate the “new old” because one size does not fit all, and the ethos that older adult become inactive no longer applies. She contends that boomers have many reasons to identify with the type of service Christians are called to do, and suggests that the Church just needs to tap into the wealth of knowledge and resources which this group presents.