Baby Boomers: A Complex Generation (Pt. 4)

August 1, 2016 | Comments Off on Baby Boomers: A Complex Generation (Pt. 4)

Boomers Are Social Folks

Boomers Are Social Folks

They are not religious.

A 1993 Time magazine article reported that about 42 percent of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. However, Richard Ostling notes that the boomers returning to religion are “usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality.”

They are looking for ways to matter.

Boomers are often people on a mission. They want to matter and to contribute. If not consumed with additional years of work and/or care giving, this may take the form of a second career, a transition to a mission or non-profit, or simply a new focus on ministry within their local church or civic organization. Many are beginning to look at leaving a legacy to their children and grandchildren. They are becoming more intentional about the lives they lead and the values they communicate. This makes them ripe for meaningful positions in the church or parachurch organizations.

Small Groups with Boomers

As a small-group leader, you may find that baby boomers are unpredictable. If they’re involved in caring for children or parents, they may miss group regularly. They also travel a lot—for work, missions trips, or leisure—which also adds to absences.

On the other hand, many boomers are mature Christians. You can and should handle more difficult material with them. Unfortunately, this maturity can sometimes lead to a cynicism or boredom. You’ll need to find a way to make material fresh and relevant to keep them engaged.

Some boomers can be a little shallow, so leaders will need to draw them out. While they might have been willing to tackle the deeper issues of life when they were younger, there seems to be a tendency to stay on the surface now. They may share their kids’ and parents’ struggles, but often not their own. It’s hard to get boomers to delve into the deeper issues of marriage, faith, finances, and theology, but it’s possible.

Whatever you do, stay flexible and willing to listen. Listen to the boomers, and listen to the Holy Spirit. Together you’ll learn a lot.

See Post 1 here, Post 2 here, and Post 3 here.

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