This last week, I accepted the position of Pastor of Senior Care, or Pastor of Adult Ministry, given the task of drawing people over age 50 to the church and keeping the ones we have satisfied with what the church offers for them. It is an awesome task, one that will keep me on my knees in prayer, for this week in the literature on starting an older adult ministry in a church, I found that nearly 70 percent of Baby Boomers, people in my age cohort, do not attend religious services, not even at least once a week.
I was shocked! There are so many megachurches today, some with 10,000 to upwards of 30,000 members. I somehow thought that the majority of people in my generation attended church, as many were the children of people who attended a lot and made their children attend. My parents did not attend church, and the only time I saw my parents in church was at my sister’s funeral, but nearly everyone else in my neighborhood had parents who expected them to get up on Sunday morning and go to church, even if they had been out late at night, hangover and all. But, now that I think about it, maybe that is part of the problem.
I remember that the short time between age 9 and 10 when I did attend church with my great-aunt, Aunt Brownie, there were so many rules that you had to remember, such as girls and women did not touch the pulpit, women could not wear earrings in the choir, and you wore your best clothes on that day. At Aunt Brownie’s house, you could not iron or wash clothes on Sunday, and you certainly did not go shopping, for every store was closed. Services lasted for seemingly hours on end, and you attended two services on Sunday, one on Wednesday, and, during Vacation Bible Week, you went every day!
Maybe because I did not go to church much after age 10, I made sure that my children went every week, but I was more relaxed about the ironing and some of the other rules that made no sense to me. I had Bible study once a week at home, and I had a Proverbs for each of my children. For example, the oldest boy’s loved to brag, so his was Proverbs 27:2, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Needless to say, my children hated the Bible studies and having to go to many activities during the week. I thought that I was setting them u to love going to church, but I was wrong!
My oldest child still will not attend church, and she did not take her children to church. She told me that she was forced to go as a child and to listen to the teachings at home, but when she became an adult, she decided not to do the same to her children. She sees no value in attending church or reading Bibles. She believes that you just treat people well and then you don’t have to be bothered by people who are judgmental and often superficial.
I don’t even talk to her about the church or Bible, because I am afraid I will lose all contact with her. I do tell her that I am praying to God for her, so see knows that God is still there for her. I wonder how many Baby Boomers and younger generations feel the same way she does about the church not having value for their lives?
It is a valid question, for do the churches or religious organizations offer anything of value today that would motivate people to want to attend church? How do we create places of comfort, where people feel that they to find what they need to get through the struggles of this life.? To what degree has the image of Christians been hurt by a push by some Christians for political power?
For me, I attend each week to receive the strength and comfort I need to make it through this life. The music, preaching, and Sunday school lessons reassure me that the God I serve is real and is with me every step of the way. I need to feel the presence of the Lord, and I tend to do so more likely in His holy sanctuary. I do not mean that you cannot do so other places, just that, for me, I love praising God with others and assuring others that God is real and He is there for us.
So, I have until June 17 to complete a tentative plan to the Senior Pastor. I know that what is impossible for human beings to accomplish is possible for God, and I do not forget that it is God who gives the increase. I will pray and continue to call on the powerful name of Jesus Christ my Lord. I would welcome any comments on what works at your church or place or worship, and what your experiences have been. Why do you attend or why don’t you?