Sunday, February 24, 2008

Opportunities for Seasoned Citizens

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

16.2 percent of the work force was comprised of employees aged 55 and older in 2005;

by 2050, this number is slated to grow to almost one-fourth (23 percent)

A survey released on Sept. 25 by found that organizations weren't adequately prepared for the impending "brain drain" brought on by employees who retire. They knew these shortages were looming, but only 23 percent had plans in place to identify the knowledge that needed to be protected.

Among other pieces of advice, the survey recommended that employers create incentives to keep their older workers around.

The shock and shame of this trend comes from the fact that if we did a survey of churches we would find that almost none of them have planned for ways to keep their Seasoned Believers and Leaders engaged in meaningful ministries. In the headlong rush to replace Elders with Younger, there is an unfortunate lack of planning on how to retain the knowledge and wisdom of those with years of experience and insight.

This is not a hidden way to keep youth from being involved. That is essential for the health of the people and the organization. We must recruit and train younger members. We must allow them to design their own programs and tend to their own needs. However, this does not mean that it is wise to have a wholesale replacement of the Elders with people who have no institutional knowledge. Nor does it make sense to completely displace the people with the most time, energy and disposable income.

It is foolish to ignore Seasoned Believers. No smart organization rejects the insight and support of an important group of "Customers". As the photo above shows, SeeBees can offer all kinds of creative and dynamic gifts and talents to a congregation. Here thaty have planned and implemented a special service at their church.

Sweeten Life Systems works with churches to develop ways all of God's children are able to worship, learn and worship as well as discover their gifts and use them for the Kingdom.

What do you think is the best way to include every age group?

Gary Sweeten

Consultant to Seasoned Believers


paula clare said...

Hi Gary,
Our pastor has done quite a brave and innovative thing...he dared ask the question, "What are your complaints?" Can you imagine?! Asking us what we DO NOT LIKE about the current state of our church! He believes there are "clues" within our complaints that will point to both our passions and our potential ministries. In my case, he was right!

One of my complaints was the lack of liturgy and "sacred ritual" in our typical charismatic passion? Liturgy. My ministry? An Ash Wednesday liturgical service each year. Pastor D. allows me to create the entire service, from beginning to end. Amazing! (AND very well both Seasoned Saints, young couples, 20 and 30 somethings, even a few teens and children!) A second complaint, the lack of silence for contemplative and/or meditative prayer during our services. My passion? Silent reflection. My ministry? Leading a directed silent retreat for those who need "margins" in their lives. The day will include teaching, small group discussion, silent prayer and reflection, and a joyful meal to end the day. My third and final complaint: A seeming lack of concern about social issues like poverty, hunger, and homelessness. My passion? Loving and ministering to the poor, impoverished, and marginalized. My ministry? Raising awareness within the congregation, and then leading those with like passions out into the community to minister to the poor and hungry. I am hosting a film screening done by an amazing documentary/filmmaker (Gerard Straub, CEO of San Damiano Foundation ( who shoots on location the lives and plight of the poor, and then donates all the revenues made from the film to those same people.

As our missions director, I've discovered that many folks WANT to do something, they just need guidance in knowing how/what to do and where/how to do it.

I realize that's an awfully long answer to a very short question, but I feel one of the "side effects" of my pastor having the "guts" to ask the question, "What's your complaint?" is ministry to folks in every age group...because ultimately, every age group will have a complaint. :-)

Blessings, and thanks for listening to the ramblings of a SeeBee!

Gary Sweeten said...

Paula, Pastor D. did a very bold and courageous thing; he "unleashed" a group of gifted, talented Believers by encouraging them to think, create and do what they wanted.

In theology this is called "The Priesthood of all Believers" Now, 500 years after Luther, a few brave leaders are doing the stuff.

The revolution on the 21st Century is the Revolution of "Doing the Stuff". What are the leashes? Who is unleashing them?

Thanks, Pastor D!!!

Michael W Cristiani said...


Here's one that seems to fit with what Paula is saying. At zAmya Theater Project: Toward an Intimacy of Social Change you can read about a theater group in Minneapolis that is an example of activist theater engaged with marginalized folks in the community, with the end of effecting social change. Perhaps the Body of Christ should be about this, and SBs have the time and talent to do so. Could be within one local body, among several local bodies, etc., no?