From the Jesus People movement of the 70s and the “seeker-sensitive” outreach of the 80s, Boomers have shaped the development of the North American Church. Yet, as they approach and enter retirement, for some their church participation is dwindling. Join Jim Divine, who pastors a church in The Villages, Florida, to discuss how churches can help guide the “Me” Generation to discover their Kingdom Purpose in the final third of life.
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n the vibrant setting of The Villages, Florida, the largest retirement community in the world, Reverend Jim Divine is pioneering a transformative approach to church engagement. His work, centered on the Boomer generation, offers a unique perspective on integrating this influential group into the heart of church life.
The Villages: A Reflection of Boomer Culture
Rev. Divine’s ministry in The Villages provides a window into the world of Boomers. This community, characterized by its dynamic and active lifestyle, challenges conventional approaches to church engagement. Divine notes the importance of understanding this context: “The Villages is growing more today than it’s ever grown…it’s just taking off. It’s a crazy place to be, a fun place to be, and very exciting.”
Shifting from Passive to Active Engagement
In addressing the needs of Boomers, Rev. Divine emphasizes a shift from passive to active engagement. He explains, “People are no longer coming to us; we must go to them and create new forms of church in society.” This proactive approach is crucial in reconnecting Boomers with their faith journey.
Implementing Innovative Strategies
Rev. Divine’s strategies focus on meeting Boomers where they are. He describes various initiatives, from hosting community events like October Fests to creating spaces for spiritual exploration. Divine highlights, “We’ve built ways to connect with people… 27% of people that come into our church are returning to church after a decade or more.”
Creating a Welcoming Environment
A key element in Divine’s approach is creating a radically hospitable environment. This involves acknowledging the unique experiences and expectations of Boomers. Divine shares, “We really emphasize that when we have different events at the church… every opinion is okay.”
Encouraging Intergenerational Connections
Fostering intergenerational relationships is another cornerstone of Divine’s ministry. He recognizes the potential for Boomers to mentor younger generations and share their rich faith journeys. By doing so, he not only revitalizes the spiritual life of Boomers but also enriches the entire church community.
Rev. Divine’s work in The Villages serves as a beacon for churches looking to engage the Boomer generation more effectively. His approach, characterized by innovative strategies, radical hospitality, and a focus on intergenerational connections, offers a template for reinvigorating church life with the wisdom and experience of Boomers.
Reflective Questions for Church Leaders
- How can your church adapt to better meet the needs and expectations of the Boomer generation?
- What innovative strategies can you implement to foster a more welcoming environment for Boomers?
- In what ways can your church encourage intergenerational connections, leveraging the wisdom of Boomers?