by Kristine Lowder
A big challenge faced by some midlifers is plugging in to effective, meaningful ministry. Our former church, for example, wasn’t quite sure what to do with those who where approaching retirement age but still had kids in high school.
In that former context,there was a Youth group, a College group, a Seniors group, and Children and Family Ministries. The latter was geared toward parents of young children. The Seniors group was mostly about potlucks and the latest report from the doctor’s office.
“I don’t think I’m quite ready for that” husband Chris observed on our way out to the church parking lot after another Sunday service. “But where else can we plug in?” he asked.
I scanned the church parking lot, eyeing the rough demographics. Young parents hustled elementary school aged children and toddlers or babies into car seats and minivans. Elderly parishioners maneuvered walkers to sedans or made plans to meet at a local restaurant for lunch. A few high schoolers headed out to the grassy field behind the church to toss a football around, post-service. I didn’t see any 50-somethings with a freshman in high school.
“Good question,” I murmured.
My husband and I both have college degrees from a Christian liberal arts university and extensive ministry and teaching experience. We volunteered wherever doors opened.
But there weren’t that many.
In truth, Chris and I were bored out of our gourds. “I feel like we have experience and gifts, but no where to use them,” I observed one Sunday. “Maybe it’s time to look for another church?”
In a small, rural town of about 5,000, there aren’t a lot of options in that category.
Social media wasn’t much better. I looked around and found that many on-line communities geared toward midlife women are almost painfully self-centric. And no, I really don’t care about fashion and accessorizing, weight loss, make-up and skin care or Outfits of the Day. Or that 50+ I am woman, hear me roar thing.
So now what? I wondered.
Chris and I want to live, love, serve, and BE in the second half of our lives, not just mark time. Or post about today’s wardrobe.
Our interests range from hiking and exploring the Great Outdoors and 1st and 2nd Amendment issues to rescue dogs and cooking for two. Ditto military history. Travel on a budget. Preventing skin cancer. Self-publishing. Battling insomnia. Puccini arias. Great literature. Authors like C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Eldredge, and Elisabeth Elliot. Politics (nobody’s perfect).
Believing that maturity is not an age or stage, but a spiritual foundation that leads to fruitfulness, Chris and I decided to “color outside the box.” If there wasn’t a place for “betwixt and between” midlifers to serve at our local church, we took a leap of faith and dove into:
- The senior volunteer program at our local police department
- The library board
- Select political campaigns and canvassing efforts
- Ministry with Child Evangelism Fellowship
- Adopting a rescue dog
- Engaging with Samaritan’s Purse
- Reading 383 books in one year (2018)
- Exploring new trails and writing about them
- Making some new friends
- Expanding our borders
- Setting up a War Room in an upstairs closet to fight battles on my knees
I also launched several new blogs focusing on hiking and outdoor life, reading and writing, and political commentary.
I also wrote some new books and joined a book club.
On a dare from my then-18 year old son, I opened an Instagram account, Thymelesswon. That went pretty well. So I recently opened another IG account, Writers.of.Rohan: Writing and working for the LORD of the kings. (Holler when you get that.) It’s about supporting and connecting with Christian writers.
The point is, if your gifts, abilities and experiences aren’t being effectively used in your current context, it may to be time to look for a new context. Or expand your borders.
If you keep your eyes open and are willing to be led, “betwixt and between” could be another word for “home.”
A multi-published author specializing in narrative non-fiction, inspirational fiction, and humor, Kristine Lowder resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their four sons. She’s written over 20 books including Trees Walking: Growing Leadership in Children’s Ministry, Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters, and Hard Night: Growing Up in the Land of Endless Summer. Her newest title is: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More. Visit Kristine at: ZuzusPetals.Home.Blog, HikerBabe.org, www.kristinelowder.wordpress.com