Posts Tagged ‘babyboomers’

During my morning walk today, I saw two different mini-vans loading kids with new book bags, new clothes, and big smiles on their faces. At the first house at least, both Mom and Dad were getting in the mini-van, and at the second house, the Mom was saying loudly as Dad closed the door, “And have just a wonderful day,” her voice breaking just a bit on wonderful.

It’s the first day of school for three super gkids here in North Texas.  It is also the first day of school in Escondido, California, because we have one granddaughter starting second grade today and the other starting first grade.

I don’t know if I really remember the first day of first grade in the fall of 1953. I do remember some things about first grade though! I went to first grade at Springdale Elementary School in Fort Worth, starting when I was five and turning six in late October. I didn’t go to kindergarten; it wasn’t required, and I think it cost money.

I was trying to think this morning of what was different on my first day of school from this day for my grandkids. Here are just a few things you might find interesting.

  • There was nothing electronic in our school supply list! The one piece of equipment that I remember owning for the first time was a #1 pencil. They were big and red with very soft lead that wrote very large and very dark lines.  That’s what all kids learned to print with.  They did not have erasers on the end. You had a separate eraser–usually red or green.  I searched for a picture of a #1 pencil and didn’t find any that matched my memory. One more thing to look for in the antique stores.
  • My classmates all had regular names like Ed, Larry, Janice, Betty, Mary—a few double names: Linda Jo, Billy Mac, and one boy’s name was just initials—H.L. –I don’t know if he put periods after them or not.  And I think they were all spelled like you would expect, not in ways that will require life-long explanations.
  • The school was not air-conditioned, which is one of the reasons Texas schools always started after Labor Day. We also stayed until at least 2:30, maybe 3:30. Then we were picked up by my Mom who drove carpool that year and taken home in our air-conditionless Chevrolet. Today, it is supposed to be 105 degrees here in Fort Worth. I’m glad the gkids have air-conditioning.
  • War stamps were sold in our classroom. The Korean War was almost over, but one way the federal government funded the war was by selling war bonds to adults and war stamps to kids at school. I don’t think they cost much and you put them in a stamp book like green stamps and cashed them in later.  I know I bought some. That was back when people always supported the wars that the country was in. Pretty big changes since then!
  • My first grade class learned the 23rd Psalm by memory and recited it to the whole school over the public address system for the regular morning pray. I do regret the disappearance of Christianity from our common life together—but I am not worried about prayer in public schools. As long as we teach our children to pray at home, there will be plenty of prayer at school.

I loved school from the beginning.  It is important to love learning, to learn to read and write well, to learn history, to learn how things work, but as I have thought about it, maybe the most important thing that our children learn in school is how to live in a community with others.

Do you remember the book by Robert Fulghum that came out about 1986 called All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten? I’m finishing today with just a little excerpt from his book that reminds us of what is really important about school.  This is what you want your child to learn, isn’t it?

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,
hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody
really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned – the biggest
word of all – LOOK.

I would just add,God loves you and God is with you, so make Him happy with everything you do and say.”

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I was in Abilene, Texas, yesterday for a conference with those who minister to retirees in our churches. The group was not large, but it was quite interesting. Much of the program was really sharing what churches are doing as they begin to realize not only the challenges of a graying population, but the potential for the kingdom.

Here are a few of the facts that drove ministers to this conference and should drive every church into re-thinking and re-visioning its ministry with members aged 55 and above.

  • In 2000, Baby Boomers (born between 1946-60) made up 28% of the U.S. population. In 2020 it will be 36%.
  • Boomers own 77% of all financial assets in the United States. They also account for 80% of luxury travel.
  • Boomers believe old age to start between 72-78. (They will not join any group with the word senior in it nor any other of our cute euphemisms.)
  • Boomers intend to stay active. Here is what Newsweek (2/16/2010) reported, “These days, baby boomers don’t see retirement as a withdrawal from activity but as a new adventure. Many seniors will travel, volunteer, consult, and remain active, in addition to leaving some afternoons free for golfing and spending time with grandchildren. “It is a generation that is far more comfortable and even addicted in some ways to change and newness and adventures,” says Dychtwald. “They are going to pioneer a lifestyle where people reinvent themselves again and again and again.”

If you want to think about how this applies to your congregation, then think about how your membership would look if 35-40% of your members were 65 or older.  This is where all of our congregations are headed—if we are not there already.

Most of us tend to think churches are dying if all we see is gray hair in the pews. As Boomers re-invent the retirement years, however, church leaders must re-vision the potential for good that retired Boomers have for the kingdom.  For instance:

If Boomers are going to travel and remain active, they need to be challenged to revision their retirement as the time for a new mission, a new faith adventure! Re-read the above paragraph from Newsweek and apply it to Christian retirees. What can your church do to focus this energy and wanderlust for God?   LST has seen a huge boom already in retired Christians going on short-term mission projects.

If Boomers own so much of the purchasing power in the U.S., they need to be challenged to be generous. You may be suppressing a cynical laugh at this, but let me suggest that instead of targeting the cash in their bank accounts, appeal to them to use their legacy, i.e., their estate, as an extraordinary resource for the kingdom.

And here is perhaps one of the most significant unknown factors that I can share with you:  the Millenials (1980-2000) have much more respect for Age than we Boomers did for those before us. The next 25 years are a great opportunity for multi-generational synergy.  We have an opportunity to escape things like worship wars that are driven primarily by generational differences, and, instead, see whole families—extended families, led by the grandparents sometimes—serving God in active and generous ways.  The Millennials like the old and the Boomers want to relate to the young because they don’t think of themselves as old!  What can you do with that phenomenon??

God knows we Boomers as a group have brought a lot of sin into the world. Perhaps these next twenty-five years are our opportunity for redemption.  Wise church leaders will take advantage of this.

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