Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

Churches and Non-Profits: Are You Ready for the Wave of Aging Baby Boomers?

Baby boomers are retiring, and to accommodate this growing market, major companies are retooling to be ready.  Baby boomers already account for half of consumer spending in America, and with a longer life expectancy, they’re predicted to spend at least $50 billion in the next 10 years.  Across the country, companies are quietly making their typefaces bigger, creating better access, lowering store shelves to make things easier to reach, and even avoiding colors like yellow and blue that older folks have difficulty seeing.  (Who knew?)  Companies see the changing market and are responding accordingly.  But the question is:  Are churches, ministries, and non-profits doing the same?  For better or worse, Boomers have been the most dominant demographic force in American history.  So while many are obsessed with “the next generation,” if you’re trying to sell products, seek donors, or share a message, you need to keep these consumers in mind.

Here’s a few things to remember:

1.  Whatever you do, don’t remind Baby Boomers they’re old. Remember that they’ve always been demanding and rebellious, so whatever changes you make to reach them, needs to be done covertly.  For instance, Tyco is changing it’s famous “medical alert” products to “companion services” products.  Kimberly Clark is re-thinking it’s “Depends” brand and making gender specific versions that look like normal underwear.

2.  Maybe it’s finally a good thing that the largest and most responsive audience for religious media is 55 and older women. So get ready for potential growth in that audience.  Certainly they won’t respond to the same things in the same way the last generation of older audiences did, but that aged audience is about to grow, and it’s time to start connecting.

3.  With Boomers, it’s about “lifestyle” not “need.” Plus, they don’t want to be preached to.  As one marketing director said, “Boomers have a filter that says, ‘If you’re trying to sell me too hard, then I’m not sure about your intentions.'”

There’s an entirely different argument about the spiritual aspects of this – if thinking in these terms is a good thing or bad thing.  But the fact remains that this group is growing, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to reach out and make an impact.

I’d love to know your thoughts – especially if you’re moving in this direction or not.

Tags

Related Articles

10 Comments

  1. In Australia there is much talk about the boomers because of the need for growth in the health care industry but I’ve not thought about this segment of the population in terms of the Church. This is certainly an area that we need to be mindful of over the coming years. The difficulty, as you touched on, is the balance of reaching the next generation but still being thoughtful and even aware of a huge portion of our aging society. Thanks for the post.

  2. 1. For several recent years while tuning in to some well-known television ministries, I’ve noticed during crowd shots a general lack of younger people in the church auditorium audiences. Frequently, a majority of the pew sitters have gray or silver hair (I’m also in that group). However, there are some exceptions to that.

    2. Have you noticed PBS TV programming going in that direction with shows such as “David Foster and Friends”?

  3. Phil, this is very interesting because many of our churches are being told to focus on the younger generations….20-30 demographic…….would love to talk strategy……interesting….I have had four conversations in the last month with people in their late fifties who do not need to work and bored looking for a way to serve in the local Church……hmmmm……Andy in Harrisburg,PA

    1. There’s no question that there’s a HUGE potential group of aging Americans with great expertise out there who could make a real difference in local church ministry.

  4. Don’t tell us we’re old, don’t insult our intelligence, don’t try to pump us up (we know all the tricks), provide real substance instead of airy preaching, we’re okay with multimedia but we still like the “sage on the stage” who has something to say, and remember this: we were once your age, so we know how you feel, but you have NEVER been our age, so think about it.

  5. Very interesting thoughts, I know my church is trying to focus on younger generations as it seems religious commitments are becoming less important. Something to think about though, thank you for sharing.

  6. I think what the next generation (aka me) needs is to be mentored, discipled, led by the boomers in the Church.  As Susan mentioned we’ve never been that age so we have so much to glean from the boomers!  If a church focuses on the boomers, really honors them and then challenges them to go out and raise up my generation something pretty neat could happen.

  7. Thanks, Phil.  Every generation has its nuances, but a big mistake we see in many churches is focusing so deliberately on one part of the body—to the point other parts feel peripheral or secondary.  Of course the whole body needs to be concerned about the next generation.  The whole body (including the next generation) needs to also be concerned about the Boomers, Builders, etc.   At every age level our temptation is to become self-absorbed and to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.  We desperately need spiritual vitality, making disciples at every age level and between every age level!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker