As the first of 77 million baby boomers reach retirement age, their annual spending power is estimated at 2 trillion dollars. Businesses are working hard at creating Boomer-centric products from cars to ovens while marketers are coming up with innovated ways to sell these products and services to the most affluent generation ever to walk on earth. But what’s the church strategy to reach, engage and deploy this generation? Mostly a seat on a church board.
While this is not a scientific or even researched post, I speak from the perspective of someone who gets to visit a lot of churches and happens to be very at the very tail end of the Boomer generation. Most of the funding for new buildings, capital expenditures and programs come from the 45-65 year olds. It makes sense; we have been in the work force longer and have accumulated more discretionary wealth, and unlike retirees of the past on fixed income, Boomers’ paychecks are the largest around. Therefore we’re asked to serve on boards.
Churches everywhere have successful middle aged men and women in leadership meetings. We are expected to give great advice and even greater checks. But if that’s all we are expected to do, the church will miss a big opportunity: to harness the energy and passion of a generation that has refused to grow old.
Unlike our preceding generation, the Builders, Boomers are not only wealthier, we are healthier with an active lifestyle that rivals even that of the young Millennials. But while we can write you a check, we can give you more than money. Yes, much more. And unlike our parents, we don’t mind the loud music, the fog machine, or shoeless worship leaders. Bring it, worship boy. We grew up with AC/DC. Chris Tomlin does not scare us.
So my counsel to the church that wants to reach out to Boomers: don’t give us a building to fund. Give us a passion to pursue. Yes, you’ll get the building thrown in with everything else that comes from being fully engage in ministry. A seat on the board is great and you probably need our experience and wisdom, but a piece of our heart is so much better.
What’s your church doing to engage Boomers?