Faithlink Discussion: Redefining Retirement

by Jacob Juncker

Based on the U.S. population, those attending United Methodist worship services today are underrepresented in the under-35 age group and overrepresented in the over-57 age group.

Changing demographics affecting church funding,” by Marta W. Aldrich (Oct. 3, 2007, United Methodist News Service)

According to the U.S. Census, during the next decade 70 million baby boomers — nearly one fourth of the U.S. population — will reach 65. Many will retire from their current lines of work.

Mission trips enrich man’s retirement,” by Boyce Bowdon (September 8, 2010, United Methodist News Service)

Some people find these statistics startling.  I find hope in them. Why? you ask.  Why do you find hope in an aging church with aging congregations?  Why do you find hope in more people retiring?  Because, retirees and older adults are in a transitional time in their lives and they have an opportunity to commit more time to the church.

The church needs to be a viable option for retirees.  It must be a safe place for fellowship and recreation.  It must also provide enriching opportunities to serve Christ.  Clergy and church staff must help find places where retirees can have a “satisfying retirement:” they must find ways to use their talents and experience.

Morgan Green retired as a salesman at the age of 57.  He began searching for something to do…the church was there and Green is now involved in several mission opportunities at his church.

Green says his involvement in mission work at his church has given him opportunities to:

  • Invest his gifts and experience in a worthy cause. “One of my responsibilities has been to recruit people for mission teams. As a salesman, I was accustomed to asking people to do things, and it didn’t break my heart when they said no. So, now I don’t mind asking people to join a mission team.”
  • Build rewarding relationships. “Almost all the people who volunteer for missions are really neat. We travel together and work together and support one another. Even after we get back home we feel special bonds.”
  • Be a Christian influence on people in need. “When we go on missions, we not only improve the health and living conditions of impoverished people, we minister to them spiritually by expressing the love of Christ in concrete ways.”
  • Ease his anxieties and appreciate his blessings. “When you spend a week with a family who lives in 12-by-18-foot house with cardboard walls, a tin roof and a dirt floor, and who have barely enough to eat, you come home realizing you have plenty to be thankful and no reason to be deprived even if our economy is shaky.”
  • Grow closer to the Lord. “The more I have shared the love of Christ with others, the more my love for Christ has grown.”

Being involved in the church, Green said, is enabling him to enjoy his retirement years to the fullest.

He encourages Christians who are struggling with the losses that retirement sometimes brings to become more involved in a church.

“If mission work is not your thing, you can find something that’s just right for you,” he said. “There’s all kinds of stuff you can do around a church that will ease the staff’s load and extend the church’s ministry. You can find a place of service that can transform your life and the lives of others.”

Mission trips enrich man’s retirement,” by Boyce Bowdon (September 8, 2010, United Methodist News Service)

Thank you to all those “retirees” who currently volunteer in their local church or ministry.  Your witness is an inspiration.  For those who are not currently volunteering, prayerfully consider how you might get involved.

The beauty of Christ’s mission (the church’s mission in the world today) is that it can be accomplished by all persons in all stages of life.  The success of Christ’s mission is not dependent upon physical or mental ability: it is dependent upon faithful people living after the example of Christ.

What are your thoughts? Reactions?


My comments are based upon the resource: “Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life.”  Faithlink is a weekly adult discipleship resource published and Copyrighted by Cokesbury.  If you are a member or constituent of Christ United Methodist Church (Lafayette, IN) and would like to receive this weekly discipleship tool, simply email to express your interest and you will be put on the weekly email list.