The Need for Empty Nesters in the Church
Finding a church often involves a quick search on the internet. With a click of the mouse, you can find a church’s service times, their statement of faith, directions, and ministries offered. After a quick search, I was surprised to see the ministry results a bit skewed. There were plenty of responses on ministry options for millennials, but little results with ways churches are serving the empty nest generation. While there is definitely a need to connect with millennials, leaving the empty nesters behind is a big mistake. Churches need to change their perspective on this aging generation, and here are four reasons why.
- Wisdom– We are not talking Biblical wisdom here, although that might be the case for long-time Christ-followers. We are talking about the wisdom that comes from experience. Wisdom isn’t only intelligence or knowledge. It is the ability to use what you know as your guide in actions, speech, and decision making that shape your outcomes. When your congregation gathers together, and you experience multi-generational interactions, lives are changed. Stories and experiences are passed down to future generations. In turn, elders learn from the younger generation about what worries their peers, what challenges they are facing, and what success they are experiencing. Coming alongside each other builds the character of Christ throughout your congregation.
- Time-With the kids no-longer in the house, empty nesters use this season to figure out their own connection to the church. Frequently, this is found thru service. With “extra” time on their hands, empty nesters are available to serve at times when younger families are attending children sporting events, family functions, or work obligations.
- Stewardship/Leadership-Houses of worship often turn to the older generations to guide the church and younger ages. In Titus 2, the Bible is clear about older women mentoring younger women in Biblical, Holy-Spirit filled, loving, and pure living. The Bible is also clear on overseers or elders of the church “not be a recent convert” (1 Timothy 3:6). For this reason, we see more elders from the empty nest generation guiding our churches.
- Resources-This topic can be controversial, but that does not mean it is not valid. Empty nesters are bigger tithers. With a steady income and less financial responsibility, the empty nest generation is more apt to give their full tithe and then some, to further ministries. The empty-nesters usually are regular church attenders, so their tithe is given on a consistent basis.
What empty nesters need from the church
- Support-Between driving to visit children or grandchildren and caring for aging parents, empty nesters find themselves pulled in many directions. People in this season of life are looking for space where they can minister to each other and encourage one another.
- Connection-This season of life brings about a lot of changes. Children leave the nest, friends move, and loss of friendships when children are no longer the connecting piece. Churches need to be a safe place for empty nesters to foster relationships with one another and with Christ. Social gatherings and outings should be regularly geared towards fun and enjoyment.
- An Authentic Faith– There is a strong need for this generation to find meaning in the church. For so many years, parents brought their kids to church activities and Sunday service to grow their children’s faith. But with the children no longer attending church with their them, parents need to find their place in the congregation. Provide opportunities for them to pray together, study the Word, and engage in faith as independent adults.
What empty-nesters need from the church is precisely what millennials need from the church, spiritual growth, and fellowship. Let’s stop solely focusing on the new generation, but meet the needs of previous generations before they leave the church.