Learning How to Evangelize Aging Baby Boomers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. June 30, 2016 /Discipleship Ministries– As the over-60 age group explodes with aging baby boomers, church leaders will gather in September to learn new ways to take advantage of an extraordinary evangelistic opportunity to engage people who sometimes are spiritual but not religious, or have left the church.

Boomerstock, hosted by the Office on Aging and Older Adult Ministries at Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, will be the first comprehensive study of how the church can reach members of a generation who had been previously lost.

Boomerstock“This event is an opportunity for church leaders to come and learn both from people who are extremely knowledgeable of the baby-boomer generation and from each other about what is working and how we can creatively explore new ideas,” said Will Randolph, director of the Office of Aging and Older Adult Ministries.

Each annual conference has been invited to send representatives to Boomerstock, which is scheduled for Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 in Nashville. Others who would like to attend are also welcome. For more information about the event and to register, go to http://umcdiscipleship.org/boomerstock.

Boomerstock was named after the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the 1969 music festival in New York state that drew 400,000 people and is credited with giving voice to a whole generation.

"Boomerstock is about understanding how to minister to a group of emerging older adults who do not even want to claim the mantle of being older adults"
-Will Randolph 
The U.S. Census Bureau says baby boomers, who were born during the post-World War II baby boom in the United States, have driven change in the U.S. population’s age structure since their birth. Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and by 2029, when all of the boomers will be 65 years and over, more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65, the Census Bureau says.

Randolph said many baby boomers left the church in the 1960s and 1970s when they came of age, and today many of them claim to be spiritual, but not religious. "The boomers going into retirement and perhaps the most spiritual time of their lives, offer the church another opportunity to be engaged by the church in ministry,” he said.

“Boomerstock is about understanding how to minister to a group of emerging older adults who do not even want to claim the mantle of being older adults, and to understand how older adult ministry is changing,” Randolph said. “The old models don't work for baby boomers because they are a totally different culture.

“One of the mistakes that we have made in the last 50 years with older adult ministries is that we assumed every generation would be the same and what worked for our parents’ generation would also work for the baby boomers. But it hasn't and it won't,” he said.

Randolph said each scheduled speaker at Boomerstock has studied baby boomers and will have something unique to offer church leaders about how to engage boomers. The speakers include:

  • Brent Green, CEO and founder of Brent Green & Associates, will talk about what the church can learn from the marketing profession about how to engage baby boomers. He is a blogger about boomers and author of Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers and Generation Reinvention.
  • Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross, director of annual conference relations and annual conference strategist for vital congregations at Discipleship Ministries, will provide the opening message in a contemporary worship service showcasing how the boomer generation has changed worship. An ordained elder, he will also talk about the boomer experience from an African American perspective.
  • Rev. Dr. Linda Mercadente, a seminary professor, theologian and ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), will discuss the sizeable number of Americans who claim to be spiritual but not religious. She is the author of five books, including Bloomfield Avenue: A Jewish-Catholic Jersey Girl's Spiritual Journey, and is writing a new book on how to engage the spiritual but not religious people.
  • Rev. Dr. Craig Kennet Miller, director of Congregational Development at Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, will focus on who baby boomers are as spiritual beings. He has written numerous books, including NextChurch.Now, iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age and the forthcoming Boomer Spirituality: Seven Values for the Second Half of Life.
  • Dr. Harry (Rick) Moody, recently retired vice president and director of academic affairs at AARP®, will talk service as a way to engage baby boomers. He is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and a number of books, including his most recent, The Five Stages of the Soul.
  • Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., a leading voice for the boomer generation, will speak about spiritual resources churches can use to help people before and after they retire. She is editor-in-chief of the website and newsletter Fierce with Age, The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality, and author of 25 books, including The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older.


"Boomerstock will be a success if it jumpstarts a conversation about ministry to the emerging older adults and how to make disciples of boomers," Randolph said. "If even a few participants return from Boomerstock and begin new boomer ministries, it will pay dividends for the church's disciple-making efforts for years to come."

 



The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit the Press Center or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.

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