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  • Writer's pictureLarry Neville

Calling all Boomers . . .

I believe that the most marginalized group of people in the church today is the Baby Boomer Generation.

I grew up in a pastor’s home, involved in church ministry for all of my life. I began playing music in the services at ten years old. I also led youth ministries and traveled with my brother Mike as an evangelistic team. After Janet and I married, we traveled as a musical/evangelistic team for about seven years and then began pastoring. Later we lived in Asia for twelve years doing church planting. Then we returned to the United States and have been pastoring and church planting since. I lead Praise Chapel, a network of churches and ministries that has grown out of church planting. I work with churches that are  thirty-five years old and some that are just weeks old. We have church planters who are in their twenties and pastors in their sixties. Why I say all of that is to let you know a little about me so that when I say that I believe the Baby Boomers are the most marginalized group in the Church I am speaking from a very diverse platform.

All the activities of my life have been as I have journeyed through the Baby Boomer generation. I was born in 1949 so that places me at the beginning. I have journeyed with the 77 Million Boomers these years. Like most pastors and leaders, during the past few decades I have aimed to reach and invest in the next generations. The church overall is doing that successfully. We are multiplying churches among the forty and under crowd. But, only during the past few years have I become aware that as we (the church) are empowering the youth we have marginalized the Boomers. As I go to churches I see Boomers who were once involved. They built the churches. They led the worship. They served in every capacity and sacrificed financially. Now I see them sitting in the services and their talents not in demand.

I am for the next generations just as much as anybody. I  invest in them, and release them into ministry. That is not the issue. The challenge is that in doing so, we are overlooking the  77 million Baby Boomers.

Our world may try to “retire” the Boomers or marginalize Boomers to a lifestyle that our parents or grandparents desired when they moved into their mid 50’s and beyond. But, that is not going to happen. Boomers have always charted their own course, from the hippies to Rock and Roll music, the anti-war demonstrations to the technology evolution. There is no stopping the Boomers. Just the size of the Boomer generation means that whatever we do is enormous and affects everyone.

So why are we calling for Boomers?

Because we are entering our next stage of life. Boomers are about to revolutionize the Third Stage of life. We are going into the next years of our lives – reimagining, inventing, creating and seeking. There is a determination to finish what we started. We are goi ng to continue to make a difference in this world. We have the health, finances, knowledge and passion to change the world and we are going to do it. As Peter Drucker famously remarked, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Put another way, à la Pogo, we have met the leaders, and they are us.(1) Our future is a time of ongoing

learning, growth, and challenge.

Watch out! The giant is awakening again. 

Awakening to a new time in our lives. A time to face new challenges and new opportunities. To use all of our strength, ability, and resources to make a difference in this world. No generation has had the privileges and opportunities that the boomers have. The challenges facing this world are calling Boomers to a greater cause and purpose than in our entire lifetimes. It is still our generation. So, Boomers let’s come together and finish this great task of changing our world. We can leave this planet a better place after our generation so that the generations to come will look back to the Baby Boomer generation as their example of finishing well.

In the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul refers to King David saying, “We all know David died and was reduced to dust after he served God’s purpose in his generation” (13:36 Voice). 

We are  responsible for our generation.

Yes, we invest in the next generations but there is still our generation. Two-thirds of the Baby Boomers are unchurched. That is over 50 million people. A generation now facing a revolutionary time of change as we enter our Third stage of life. We have the opportunity to compile all of our learning and our skills to change the world again. We still have our generation to reach with the gospel. The Baby Boomers have at least the next 15 to 20 years to serve our generation. Just as Rocky Balboa said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

All of our lives, the Boomers have been the elephant in the room, the largest generation. Everything we have done has made an impact upon our world, some for good and some not so good. Now, here we are on the last stretch, headed into the season of life where we can make the most impact upon our world.

We all have to make a choice, are we going to live this season of life for indulgence or impact.

We can enjoy this season of life and all the rewards that come from a lifetime of work and service. I also believe that we can make an impact upon our world. We have more to offer now than we ever have. We have investments to deposit into our grandchildren and those who follow. We have knowledge to spread, good will to share, and a generation of Boomers yet to impact with the gospel.

What is in your Bucket List?

What have you wanted to do that you have not done? Where have you wanted to go that you have not gone? Where have you wanted to serve and make a difference? 

In the Bible Paul wrote, “I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 Amplified Bible). We know that each of us will come to the end of our race. Paul knew that he would be martyred soon as he wrote this last letter to his spiritual son. So he writes, “I have finished the race.” The Message Bible says it this way, “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. “ This paraphrase brings out Paul’s thought, “I have run hard right to the finish.”

Yes, there is a finish line but most of us are not there yet.

I think Paul had the same idea when he wrote, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16, NKJV). I like the Message Bible’s paraphrase of this also,

“Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! ”

I am calling for Boomers come together to complete the work God has given us to do in this Generation.

Larry Neville

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(1) Freedman, Marc (2008-08-26). Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life (p. 198). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.


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