For the last thirty years, the term “baby boomer” has come to define a somewhat nebulous group born between the years 1946-1964. Since that term was coined by Landon Jones in his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, much of the discussion about this particular generation has been framed by this moniker. Baby boomer is a term that connotes achievement and affluence, but now it also stands for a generation that feels disaffected and disconnected – not only from their ancestors, but from the world in general. Polling research indicates a sourness of mood and perspective about their current lives and especially about the future. This malaise includes their thoughts and opinions about spirituality.
Last year, the Pew Research Center conducted a comprehensive poll with baby boomers to gauge their opinions on a number of issues. On the subject of spirituality, the pollsters found that “By standard measures such as the share who pray daily or frequency of attending religious services, Baby Boomers are less religious than adults ages 65 and older but more religious than adults in younger generations. Among Baby Boomers, 43% say they are a “strong” member of their religion, a higher share than among younger adults and a lower share than among older ones. Four-in-ten say they attend religious services at least once a week. Conversely, 13% say they have no religious affiliation, less than younger adults but more than older adults.”
The contemporary church has and continued to experiment with the best methods of bringing young people back to church. The above numbers make it clear that fifty-to-sixty year olds are in desperate need to be reached with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The following are steps that churches can take to make their churches more accessible (but not to the exclusions of others) to baby boomers:
- Make sure that Sunday services are times when all generations are visible. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.” Baby boomers in church-visiting mode aren’t likely to make a return visit if they don’t see people like them in the congregation or in the corridors of leadership and service.
- Give them the same thought and attention to detail when structuring events. Make sure that church outings are capable of facilitating people who may have limited mobility, and that these events are capable of maintaining the interest of a wide spectrum of believers
- Be prayerful about how baby boomers can be encouraged by the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus. Know how to deal with people who are at an age when they may believe that they are “too late” to be saved or to be used by God
Every group and generation is worth saving. Under God, there is no such thing as a “lost group” or “lost generation.” The question is whether the contemporary church will be wise enough, thoughtful enough, and fast enough to make the changes necessary to give baby boomers hope and encouragement in Christ.