Monday, February 06, 2012

Baby Boomers and Church

Baby Boomers have left churches because they find them to be too much like other institutions, lacking authenticity and credibility. They sense that their values and life-style are not welcome at church.

They feel stunted by church in their spiritual and personal growth; and they look in vain for their church to be genuinely concerned for the wide social and global issues. As I type I imagine cries of ‘our church is not like that’ from across the country, but the research indicates that these are the perceptions of Boomers who have left in large numbers, and should therefore be considered seriously. Boomers generally mistrusted the motives of leaders regarding the power they exercised, and although they may have mellowed, ‘leaders’ still have to earn their respect and trust, even in the church.

Now is the moment for us to grasp the opportunity of re-engaging Baby Boomers with Christianity. Now is the time when Baby Boomers are starting to grapple with the life-changing experience of retirement. For many, loss of identity comes with giving up a paid job as well as new economic challenges and there is always a process of change to negotiate. As a group, Boomers are healthier, wealthier, more educated and travelled than any preceding retiring generation. They are also more separated from the church and have the potential to be dealing with more moral issues and regrets than previous generations too.

from the latest Mission Scene e-bulletin from the Baptist church, which is the only newsletter in my inbox which I make sure I read thoroughly.  There are several articles on Boomers and the church, I particularly like the idea of churches offering Gap Years for the newly retired.

There's plenty of other training, events and ideas there too, from the Jubilee and Olympics to childrens work, the retired, leadership, cafe church, etc. etc. Worth a browse.

Update: see the comment below from Steve for a first person insight into what this means.


  1. I find your post intriguing.

    I especially love the bit about re-engaging with boomers as they grapple with life changing experiences. There's a great challenge for communities of faith in that whole area.

    However, I would argue that most of our churches are actually run by boomers who are not great at sharing power or resources. Perhaps the reason that many other generations can't connect church is because they are aware they are going to have to pay for the retiring boomers who have been mega successful (pensions, home owners) at everything they do. The idea of giving them GAP years is a fun notion... but the implications for other generations and participation in church life needs to be thought through. I'd argue that most churches are too SAGA orientated anyway!

    I actually find your description to be more apt for GenX and GenY. They mistrust authority and are struggling to find their place in a church that is typified by what you describe. The issue of boomers dealing with death and aging is a crucial one... and one they may find solidarity in a church that is awful at dealing with younger gens and facing organisational demise.

  2. I like this post as I am one such baby boomer who left the church 12 months ago, for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons include a real lack of spiritual help in the church, poor quality preaching by people who although mean well, lack the ability to get the facts right when preaching, the failure of general synod to make public the millions of pounds lost in an unethical property investment in New York recently... There is more but I'm sure you do not want to hear me moan on and on about your employers!