Church Times wonders if the church should be spending more time evangelizing the fastest growing demographic group – older people.
SOME would say that the Church of England is an institution for the elderly, and it is the young to whom the Church needs to reach out. To illustrate their point, they could point to the latest available mission statistics from the C of E Research and Statistics Unit: of the million worshipping members in the Anglican Church, 20 per cent are under 18, while almost 30 per cent are more than 70 years old.
Nevertheless, Mike Collyer and Claire Dalpra, two of the authors of Mission-shaped Church for Older People, published by the Church Army in conjunction with the Leveson Centre, in 2008, say: “There is just as much need for new and creative ways of doing mission and being church for and with older people. The elderly are the fastest-growing section of the British population. Don’t let anyone tell you fresh expressions are for young people only.”
To assume that most older people have a Christian faith is to misread the situation entirely. If 300,000 of England’s over-70s are members of an Anglican congregation, that leaves 6.7 million who are not active Anglicans. Some, of course, will be active in other denominations; nevertheless, the evangelisation of the elderly remains a huge challenge.
This is a reflection from England but applies to the U.S. as well. Often older people experience the church as ignoring or infantalizing – rather than a mission field or to support us in our continuing spiritual journeys. What say ye?
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