In 2009 we had the first ever Generations…The Unbroken Chain: Ministry Through the Ages training event. It was such an eye-opening experience. One of the highlights was the “top ten” for each generation represented. This is the fifth in a series of “top 10s” in which I’ll share what the breakout leaders thought were the most important things for leaders to know about the generation they represented.
Our Boomer women’s track was led by Debbie Stuart from Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She earned her Women’s Ministry Advanced Certificate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is an Associate Member of The Women’s Ministries Institute and Association of Women’s Ministry Professionals. In addition to being a conference/retreat speaker and Bible study teacher, she was the founder and director of Network Extravaganza in the Shreveport, Louisiana area. She is married and has two young adults. Here is Debbie’s top ten for boomer women and my comments.
1. Life in a sandwich between caring for kids, or even grand kids, and caring for parents: They feel a great sense of responsibility to both. Find creative ways of equipping these women to minister to family while also taking care of their own physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Encourage them to meet with other women in this phase of life to discuss effective ways dealing with the issues they are facing.
2. Lack a sense of relevance: There are gaps between values and lifestyles. This generation has a psychology of entitlement. Other generations may think “privileges” while boomers thing “entitlement”. Help them re-discover their biblical values and connect that with real life. The Bible study No Other Gods by Kelly Minter or another small group resource will help them reconnect with God’s Word.
3. Looking for direction and fulfillment: They are looking for the latest thing to bring happiness and meaning in life. Because they are in the second half of life, they may become even more desperate. Show them meaningful ways of ministering to those in the community or take them on a mission trip where they can invest in meaningful ways.
4. Less happy and less satisfied: They are hurting, often times of suffering inside because they need to appear happy. Often they are quietly desperate and lonely. Take them to lunch to draw them out. Perhaps encouraging them to pour in to a younger woman will not only bless the younger woman but also fill her own needs for community.
5. Leaving marriages and other important relationships…like church. There is a tendency to think there’s something better, the “more to life mentality.” Help your women walk through difficult marriage situations without giving up quickly like the world tells them to. Share your own experiences of struggle in your marriage. Do a study on marriage such as FOR WOMEN ONLY or Women Making a Difference in Marriage.
6. Lose sight of personal purpose and passion: what we do with seniors today will not work with boomers. It will have to be repackaged as many will not ever see themselves as “seniors” at any age! Senior adult trips may not attract them like a mission trip or some activity that connects with their passions and callings to serve. Help them find meaningful ways to continue to impact the Kingdom.
7. Love some “me!” This generation created “me” time! We want to be first because we “deserve” it. This means one size will not fit all for the boomers. We must value them as individuals and pour into them so that they will give back.
8. Listen to self help, how to, steps to, and keys to messages. Boomers want relevant sermons that provide something of value. They will often attend support type groups to learn to deal with various issues they are facing, such as menopause, empty next, sandwich issues between kids at home and aging parents, health issues. They want to learn so provide opportunities to educate them about what they are facing and show them how to walk through each one in victory.
9. Like authenticity but they don’t always give it: Help them know it is okay to be honest and less than perfect. In fact show them how this will make them more attractive to other generations if they are authentic. Provide opportunities for them to ask and answer questions from other generations about their lives and their experiences.
10. Long to finish strong: they are asking what should I do with the rest of my life? They are less interested in buying stuff and more interested in having valuable life Experiences. This is great news for the church. Help them slow the treadmill of life down so they can figure out what’s really important. Show them resources that will encourage them to invest the last half of their life in the most meaningful ways possible. Check outFantastic after 40! by Pam Farrell, Second Calling by Dale Hanson Bourke or Pathway to Purpose for women by Katie Brazelton.
Boomers are returning to the church…is your church ready for them?
How are you investing your Boomer women and how are they influencing younger women?