Every Tuesday a group of us geezers play golf together. We have a lot of competitive fun and we share some about what God is doing in and through us. You see, geezers in today’s world are not like they were even a generation ago. In fact, one of my favorite books is entitled, “Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace” by Mary Furlong. Although the author focuses on money, her ideas are on the cutting edge of a new zeitgeist that is taking the western world by storm and those understand it are benefitting enormously.
Unfortunately, only a few Christians even seem to be aware of what is going on culturally, spiritually and relationally and yet it may be the most important spiritual movement since Luther sang, “If I had a Hammer” and went to Wittenberg Castle. For example, how many of your “Outreach Oriented” folk has heard of “The Purpose Prize”? Recently five innovative men and women had received $100,000.00 Purpose Prize Awards for their “Social Innovation” and involvement in “Encore Careers”! I am hoping to be one of the next recipients.
These people are all over 55 and have refused to retire. Instead they decided to refire to use their time, wisdom, experience and money to do something great for the world.
Compare that with what too often happens in the churches around the USA. I once sat next to a retiring Vice President of a multinational corporation while flying to Singapore. When he discovered my missionary intentions he share that he was a Believer who was teaching Sunday school every week. He was on his way to speak at a conference about using video teleconferencing to train managers around the world. I asked what he was going to do when he retired. “Play golf,” he said.
I urged him to consider working with a Christian organization to set up conferences for people like me. I could stay home and still teach around the world. He said, “I don’t think my Pastor would allow me to do that. I haven’t been to seminary or anything. I am just a layman. I’m pretty sure he will let me continue to teach Sunday school though.” YIKES” I thought! “Teach Sunday school when the Christian world desperately needs internationally trained leaders; with money?”
Cincinnati has over twenty thousand men and women retired from P&G, GE, Kroger, etc who have financial resources, time, broad experiences, creative minds and spiritual depth. How many Pastors but are equipping them to use their gifts, talents and ideas to reach the world? One of my Seasoned Believing friends has over 200 patents but his church has no idea how to unleash his creativity. Another is founder of a $100 million dollar company that every church, ministry and mission in America could use. The only time he is approached by his ministers is to donate on another building. One man is regularly asked to train non profits about ethics but is not asked to teach in his home church.
The old church paradigm of top down organizational bureaucracies with huge buildings is finished. Most leaders are still trying to build for past generations of pew sitters. Just think, they could be offering prizes to innovative entrepreneurs who change the world Monday through Saturday. “Seasoned Believers” don’t fit into anyone’s strategic plan unless it is to support the budget or hire a retired minister to take bus tours of the Creation Museum.
The leadership magazines talk about recruiting young people who are open to new ideas. In fact many youth are stuck in their own myopic friendships. We who have been innovators all our lives are ready to lead new ventures for the Kingdom. Treat us with respect and understanding and ask us to create our own ways of reaching out to those around us. Reward us by understanding that we know what is going on and the silver in our hair can be gold to any Pastor with the guts to turn us loose.
Here is a secret about Steve Sjogren. As a Pastor he was not afraid to recruit older, wiser gray beards more experienced than he. Steve sought out strong men and women then promoted and affirmed them. As a result he looked like the hero. Be a genius. Recruit a bunch of Seasoned Believers but DO NOT hold their hands or suggest bus rides to visit a museum!
PS. Since originally writing this article in 2009, God gave some Seasoned Believers in SLS a chance to reach out to families with disabled kids. The churches have ignored them but they desperately want to learn how to have a relationship with God to help them through their struggles.
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