Boomers flock to Ageing conference
Next Phase Ministries website
An over-capacity crowd of over-55 year olds packed into a Haymarket Hotel last week to be told 60 is not the new 40.
The message came from Dr Andrew Cameron, keynote speaker at the ‘Living in the next phase’ conference. Former Archbishop Peter Jensen and researcher Mark McCrindle joined Dr Cameron to discuss a biblical approach to ageing and options for mission in the ‘third and fourth age’.
Bishop Ray Smith from Next Phase ministries, which staged the conference, says churches face a “real challenge to engage and motivate baby boomers and seniors to be involved in God’s mission, not just their own plans for the rest of their lives.”
Dr Jensen echoed the challenge. “To concentrate on the younger generation alone would be a terrible mistake. People do become Christian young, that’s true, but they also do in their mature years” Dr Jensen said “We should see age as a great opportunity for Gospel harvest. But to do so under God we need to harness the resources of the same generation, in order to harvest.”
Dr Cameron challenged the audience to think realistically about ageing, especially promises such as ‘sixty (years old) is the new forty’. He said medical advances meant there was a kernel of truth in the statement but that people should also be realistic about the changes and losses of old age.
“This valorising of youth tempts us to be ashamed of being old and that makes us unable to think clearly about it.” Dr Cameron said.
Churches, as well as individuals, should not segregate on age, something he calls ‘age-cohortism’.
“Anecdotally it seems people can find it quite hard crossing these age boundaries...to begun attending an older early morning congregation or for one congregation to merge with another. People who visit this country are often quite struck about how age-stratafied our churches are.”
Dr Cameron’s work on ageing has been turned into a book “Living in the next phase - developing the theology, practice and ministries of later life” which was officially launched by Bishop Chris Edwards at the conference.