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MINISTRY FINANCES

“God expects us to give not as an afterthought, but as our top financial priority.”, – Alex Cook

How can churches and ministries engage mature Christ-followers in the fourth quarter of their lives?

Oct 15, 2021 | MINISTRY, Ministry Strategy | 0 comments

By Gary Williams

Although the marketers of the world have clearly woken up to the economic and social implications of the baby boomer transitions in progress, it seems, by and large, that church and ministry sectors have failed to grasp the enormity of the opportunity it presents to us.

For churches, ministries, and individual Christians to properly engage with this growing cohort of fellow believers, they must step up in three areas: understanding, sensitivity, and strategy.

1. Understanding

In Australia, about 800 people retire from work every day. A lot of these men and women profess faith in Christ. Social commentators regularly highlight their spending power, the looming health care needs, or the upcoming taxation and economic challenges for society.

This is a diverse group, too. Many are in their fifties, not their seventies. Some are impoverished, others are wealthy. Most aspire to much more than golfing, or travel, or gardening in the decades ahead of them. Yet many have never been presented with a compelling challenge, tailored to their phase of life, about what fulfilment means in what may be the fourth quarter of their lives.

These people have a lifetime of growth, education, experience, and lessons learned. They would probably say they have nothing left to “prove” to anyone, but just want to do something of significance.

They usually have ample discretionary time on their hands, and in many cases, don’t have the pressing financial distractions of those in earlier stages of life. You might be one of them!

We must consider more deeply the implications of these and related realities. Deeper thought is warranted if this opportunity is not to be missed. It’s huge!

2. Sensitivity

I recently participated in a series of conferences for Christians in their fourth quarter, where I heard some disturbing comments. Quite a few people expressed this tone: “My church seems to think that my contribution is mostly complete. They thank me for my past faithfulness, encourage me to stay connected, but invest all their effort in youth or adult ministry, as though I have nothing left to offer. I feel as though I actually have more to offer than ever!”

We have all heard the stories of the business person who used to run a $50 million business, but now retired, has been made head of the offering-counting roster at church. How stimulating that must be. Not! It sounds clichéd, but it happens all the time.

One of the conference delegates said: “I am not just a piece of a puzzle that’s looking for a matching gap in your ministry’s needsmatrix.” Retired Christians are not roster-fodder!

As we try to better engage with the fourth-quarter community, we need to understand them better, and develop a greater sensitivity to their needs and aspirations:

  • Their contribution is not mostly over; their most strategic contribution may still be ahead of them.
  • They are more than just a missing piece of your personnel needs-matrix. They might have ideas and capacity to execute them that never even occurred to you in your wildest strategy-planning meetings!
  • They usually deserve a little more trust than is implied by shackling them with overly bureaucratic procedures designed for more junior or less experienced people.

3. Strategy

As we grapple with the above issues, and deliberately minister to and alongside fourth-quarter Christians, much good emerges. Other key ideas include:

  • Listen to them, and don’t assume that the jobs you have on your “help needed” list are the only options for them.
  • Think bigger than your local church. Many have skills that far exceed the prospects that a single congregation presents.
  • Manage them properly, but not like novices. Put things in writing, manage risks, get legal workplace considerations properly sorted, and then empower and resource them.
  • Exhort them to not let the good get in the way of God’s best for them. Provide avenues for them to explore what God might have spent all this time preparing them for, and support them as they embark on it!

This article was first published by ChristianSuper.

Author Bio: Gary Williams is the Founder and National Director of CMA (Christian Management Australia / Christian Ministry Advancement), which has recently launched two subsidiaries, the CMA Standards Council and Q4Connection. Gary is married to Debbie, and father of Abby and Landon.

 

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