Why People Are Leaving the Church
Christian seminaries are not teaching nor providing the tools for second half of life ministry. What is needed is curricula that address what Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennium with a new 30-year life bonus need in life to survive: Salvation; Stewardship; Wellness and Works.
The following article contains excerpt from my new book, Second Half of Life Ministry Seminary Curricula a top-down approach.
Arenas for Second-Half of Life Ministry
The first are meaningful challenges “by” and “with” elderhood protirement adults, such as the financial and mental stress of the sandwich generation, raising grandchildren (over six million live with their grandparents), second-half adults adopting high school seniors and other common vital issues
The second is the growing need for increased ministry “to” and “among” the frail oldest old.
Today seminaries do not have any curriculum on aging or mass-aging for ministry. Also, there is no post seminary self-help. Based on facts that the median age of Senior Pastors is 50; Senior Pastors have little personal exposure to ageism or to the many other second-half issues by their life stage; their congregational pastor experience has been with only 50-Minus adults; Senior Pastors are ill prepared for ministry to elderhood protirement adults in the second half of life.
“A thirty-six-year-old minister explained that nothing in seminary had really prepared him for dealing with the real-life challenges of an aging population. With half of his congregation fifty and older, he was mainly interested in reaching young people. Besides, he felt clueless about how to engage second-halfers. He found it difficult to relate to elderhood adults who seemed to be caught up in their own world, and he dreaded ministry to the oldest old who were struggling with chronic health issues, loss of mobility and a lack of purpose. Primary church life stages exclude elderhood. Instead only childhood, adolescence and adulthood are included. The primary focus is on youth. Seminary training and equipping does not provide elderhood preparation, according to a young pastor,” reported by Miss Buchanan in an article on her blog.
A young pastor in charge older adults at my own church expressed a similar confusion.
One of the reasons given by the 120,000 pastors leaving the ministry annually has been lack of second-half & inter-generation ministries training & equipping.
For the past 30 years there has been a bottom up approach. The basis for the following ideas are the result of being a sexagenarian experiencing directly many of the issues; a decade of personal research on each life stage noted above, protirement, longevity 30-year bonus, third & fourth age plus volumes of books and articles on the need for seminary training and equipping as following:
Certification in Aging Ministries
Certification in Gerontology
Certification in Second-Half Ministry Book Reading Series
Elderhood Protirement Recruiting, Training, and Placement
Establishment of a system to have meaningful contact with those leaving full-time employment
Deliberate Second-Half Unchurched Evangelism
Second Half of Life Planning:
Church Philanthropy Development
A Benevolent and Generous Lifestyle
Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. It is important to be attentive to both positive and negative feelings and be able to understand how to handle these emotions. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills. It is an important part of overall wellness.
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy:
Graduating into new beginnings
Creating a positive identity
Balancing greater freedom
Finding a new purpose for living
Memory Loss is NOT a normal part of aging, but learning takes longer; recall may be slower; attention becomes harder to maintain; items are misplaced; and there is minor disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings. Staying engaged is the best indicator for mental health.
Expressions of Advice:
Maintain an attitude of gratitude
Read and know the Bible
Worship each Sunday
Fellowship (Identify with the body)
Don’t divorce, cohabitation, watch pornography or commit to any other additive habit
Pray for humility daily
Be thankful for God’s love
Speak to others only what will bless them and build them up
Be a ferocious reader
Enjoy God’s outdoors
Love and respect your parents
Have a self-reliance, determined attitude
Thank God constantly
What others think of you is not your business
Make peace with your past (forgive everyone)
Love heals everything
Do not compare yourself or judge others
Measure three times, cut once
You are in-charge of your happiness
Do not worry
Have a pet
Accept your parents preference to be independent and live in their own home
AD and other dementia
Cultivation of an inter-generational culture
Death and dying preparation
Helping oneself and others finish extremely well
Individual lay ministry leader philosophy
New beginnings and positive longevity attitude nurturing
Volunteering and working alongside gifted pastors
Change Aging Intolerance and Conflict
Change Unconstitutional Government
The above list is not necessarily complete or totally accurate. However, it is a starting point.
Top-Down has two schools of thought regarding seminary second half of life training and equipping:
The first is optimistic and educating and equipping seminaries and putting in their hands a track of training that will better equip pastors to effectively reach and mobilize the Elderhood Protirement/ Inter-Generational Older Adults Ministry is evitable.
The other is the opposite. Seminaries in general are hanging on for dear life in their attempt to stay funded and attract students. Students are not looking for what we are offering and it is not the passion of many (if any) professors or administrators. Thus, it will be difficult to convince them that they should displace some other core course, or even elective, so that our track can be offered. In my opinion it will be a challenging effort.
My faith is that with God all things are possible and I choose to purse both the Bottom-
Up and Top-Down alternatives.
Advocate and Agent Change implementation requires:
Not trying to fix past blame. It is not helpful to belittle, try to get embrace of change. Listen. Build relationship and respect.
Second-half & inter-generational ministries recognizing their similar goals and combining forces.
Accepting a personal responsibility and obligation for making an aging difference.
Pursing available second-half & inter-generational ministry training & equipping from recommend professional experts as provided above.
Educating the societal hierarchy (every corporate church body, theological educational institution, local congregation, nonprofit and private enterprise and governmental legislative body) about the realty of elderhood adult life stage.
Educating those in the second half of life to the choices for building a better society.
Personally doing what is right, with what one has, where one is, and for as long as one can.
Each advocate has change agents within their circle of influence. Traction with these change agents can create momentum to help make training and equipping second-half & inter-generational ministry a realty. The Lord needs everyone to make this eternal aging difference.
Both change advocates who have change agents in their circle of influence need to share the vision of putting into their institution hands a track of training that will better equip pastors to effectively reach and mobilize elderhood protirement adults.
Change advocates need to recruit change agents across the nation inside their college and/or university community who support the Second Half of Life Ministry Seminary Curricula for their institution. Likely progress will be slow, one institution at a time.