Home Equipping Leaders Older Adults C.O.A.C.H. — Connecting Older Adults in Collaborative (Retirement) Help

C.O.A.C.H. — Connecting Older Adults in Collaborative (Retirement) Help

Retirement is an often-overlooked opportunity for faith formation and older-adult learning. It is a huge point of transition for baby boomers and older adults, and many are ill prepared. Retirement preparation provides the church an invaluable opportunity to reach members and outsiders with new opportunities for faith formation and growth, but only if the church plans ahead.

How does a church prepare and what resources does it need?

To take full advantage of the opportunity, church leaders should look to the recovery group model. Recovery groups generally have a two-tier approach: a support group plus an individual mentor/sponsor. This model works because it offers learning through the group setting and educational presentations, but it also provides feedback and support from peers. This model is uniquely well suited to boomers, who love choice and to learn on their own. In this model, the mentor/sponsor serves as a retirement coach.

The retirement coach, like the coach of a sports team, has experience, skills and strategies to share, and the ability to coax the best performance out of others. Retirement coaches should be experienced retirees who have retirement strategies and skills and are trained by the church to assist others in their retirement. The difference between a church retirement coach and other retirement coaches is the added dimension of spiritual mentoring. The church retirement coach needs to be a spiritually mature Christian, who is trained in faith formation and direction and able to mentor others in faith.

Once a church has identified possible coaches, it can offer training and certification programs from corporate trainers such as Retirement Options. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers an economical course in retirement coaching. There are also life coach training courses offered by the International Coach Federation. Finally, spiritual director classes and workshops may be located through seminaries, and training workbooks are available through Spiritual Directors International.

Many retirees face confusion about how to best use their time and have a wonderful retirement. Some have an interest in activism, wellness, or spirituality, but they need assistance in mapping out plans. Business and Industry have long seen a market opportunity in the need to craft a retirement that fits interests, values, and lifestyle. Churches with retirement coaches can not only guide older adults toward better retirement, but can offer spiritual direction in the process.

Questions for Older-Adult Church Leaders to Ask Themselves and Others

  1. Who in our community offers pre-retirement classes and post-retirement check-ups that include emotional, spiritual, and mental training?
  2. Who among our church’s spiritually mature members has retired and could be trained to lead a retirement support group and become a retirement coach?
  3. What is our church doing for those who will soon retire or have recently retired?

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