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
Cover image by David Mark from Pixabay
Wow, I loved this! As I was reading but before I got to the part about your solution, I was thinking “okay, take your gifts and talents outside the walls of your church and share them with the community!” And hey, you took my advice-:) I so often have the same feelings as a married woman in my 50’s who attends church alone. I don’t feel called to work in church childcare or in the kitchen. I still work part-time and am a brand new empty-nester. Right now, I’m taking some time for reflection and reading some good books, like Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley and Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. But your post here has given me things to ponder and encouragement to find my niche in the larger community.
Well done! There’s so much we can do at this age, and I feel that having a child in high school when we were in our fifties kept us young and active and in tune with the concerns of the younger generation. Now 61 and 60, we’ve relocated to a new area and chose to attend a church of mostly young families. We’re one of about half a dozen older couples who have joined this young, family-oriented church. We’ve been included by the young families, who want to pick our brains and who welcome our help. It’s invigorating, and we love it! I think the key is being available and continuing to pursue what we love. I’m still writing, and this year I have two novels releasing. We’re exploring what all the Lord might have us to do next.
Melinda – We’d love to help you celebrate those novels when they release! If you have a print advanced reader copy or an actual copy, reach out to us to get a mailing address so you can send a review version our way. We’d love to share the good news about your work!
And Per Gen readers, this goes for the rest of you as well!
“Believing that maturity is not an age or stage, but a spiritual foundation that leads to fruitfulness…” I love this line. A couple years ago, a midlife woman in our church launched a mentoring ministry because younger women were seeking mentors! It’s one of the most fruitful, fulfilling ministries I’ve participated in. It’s just another avenue for you (and other readers) to consider. Of the two women I’ve mentored thus far, neither had a Christian mother.
Having said that, the community desperately needs light and hands. Perfect solution!
Kristine, I clicked on over via the Perennial Gen IG account. Lo and behold, a blogger over 50 from the PNW. Hi! I love your energy and creativity. That’s all.