It's an interesting and personally pleasing demographic. Us baby boomers are going back to church. A recent longitudinal study, that is, research over an extended period of time, indicates that one in five baby boomers, that is 20%, have increased their church attendance and participation in recent years. The forty-five year study by researchers at the University of Southern California attributes the renewed interest to three concerns of the boomer generational cohort, which means they are most likely driving me also:
1. Boomers have more time and want to invest it in more meaningful pursuits.
2. Boomers are confronted with age and brevity of life issues and are curious
about spiritual and end of life matters.
3. Boomers are aware of human limits, the fragile nature of life, and the desire
to pursue more meaningful concerns in the remaining years of life.
These were the substance of a July 16, 2018, Thom S. Rainer, blog. You can reference his entire article by clicking here. Since I don't have a research department I am indebted to Dr. Rainer's mention of this study and the numbers produces by it.
Numbers and statistics are, however, impersonal digits without names or faces. Right now they are more profound because they mirror recent contact with many boomer friends who are exploring end of life concerns. Who of us haven't given thought and study to last wills and testaments, living wills, DNR declarations, the stuff in our storage buildings, and the personal stewardship of our influence on the generations who will follow? Knowing my personal faith and nearly forty years of pastoral service many have questioned me about their spiritual lives, church involvement, and even final services. These contacts are not merely statistics. They are people whose lives have touched mine, whose influence was significant and remembered, whose names and faces are familiar and close. They are not numbers in a generational landscape study. They are precious moments and cherished memories. I want them to know and understand that the future is more than a roll of the dice.
Of course, that is a basic of this Christian worldview. There is absolute truth and it is revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ and the Bible, the word of God. And, the Bible gives believers assurance as we prepare for and anticipate the future. The certainty of faith is a strong theme of Scripture. Make note of these Bible assurances---
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know
that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13, ESV
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor
things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be
able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39, ESV
That you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:4, ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life,
and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who
has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the
John 10:27-29, ESV
....this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom
You have sent."
John 17:3, ESV
As is the truth every time I reference Scripture, there are many other passages that affirm the certainty of personal faith and eternal life. These many verses clarify the future for us. Our generation has worked hard and are finally retiring, the statisticians estimate, at the rate of 10,000 per day. End of life issues aren't out there in a distant fog any longer. It is important for all of us to approach this future with grace, humility and yet, confidence. The truth is that the future isn't a roll of the dice. It's not random, uncertain, or punctuated with question marks. it is the certainty of personal faith. Exclamation point!
The question of the hour for the boomer generation seems to be: what do I have to do to have this certainty, this assurance? We are surely workers and will do whatever is necessary to move us from the dice table to the confidence of eternity. A renewed interest in church, spiritual matters, and personal involvement is certainly our natural starting place. It makes sense. But, there's more. And, that will be my interest this week.
The future isn't a game of chance or roll of the dice.