The Challenge of a “Generational Mission”

During the recent season between Easter Sunday and Ascension Sunday, we have been reminded of the continuing mission given by Jesus to his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 ESV). Since that time, the church has been faithful and committed to Jesus’ challenge with the result that disciples are now present around the world.

However, the challenge for many churches today is more than being faithful to the global mission of supporting others and mission agencies to serve in other nations. There is an increasing need to form new ministries and find ways to assist others (individuals, care agencies, faith communities) in our local areas, particularly as government funding is stretched to serve the growing number of aging adults in our local communities. The consequence for the church in the face of this new “generational mission” to older adults (55+) is to create opportunities to share the love and hope of Christ through social compassion ministries which care for and support older adults and their families. The Canadian church today is facing the challenge of being an intergenerational community which “makes disciples in all generations.”

There will continue to be unprecedented growth in the older adult age population across the country over the next 20-25 years. An issue of Maclean’s Magazine from April 13 2015 features findings from a wide spectrum of scientific research, concluding that children raised to believe in God are safer, happier and healthier. This reminds us all of the importance of being faithful to future generations with “disciple-making” ministries.

This issue of Maclean’s also highlighted responses to a recent Angus Reid Institute research poll showing the range of religious interest within the older adult population. The majority (76%) of those in the 55+ age range are either inclined to embrace religion (35%) or be somewhere in between being inclined to embrace religion or to reject religion (41%). There is large and growing number of older adults who are interested in spiritual matters and who will also need the church’s attention for faith development and soul care with “disciple-making” ministries.

CHAT is committed to resourcing the church to being an intergenerational community in caring for the varied developmental needs of children, youth, families, and singles while not forgetting the importance of middle to older adults. We need your contribution and discernment as we hear the challenge of Christ to be “making disciples” today globally and locally with those in all stages and ages of life.

I would encourage to consider attending and recommending to others the Summer@Carey week (August 24-27) featuring Dr. Richard Johnson. He will offer a series of sessions titled “Soul Care for Maturing Adults: The Value of Spiritual Awareness and Vitality for Healthy Aging.” See the CHAT website for further information.

Paul Pearce
About the author

Co-Director of CHAT, Centre for Healthy Aging and Transitions
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