COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Faith leader experts in post-retirement living have joined forces to launch a movement aimed at enriching the lives of millions of senior Americans and impacting their communities for God.
Photo: Participants at the Retirement Reformation Roundtable will produce a manifesto for individuals seeking a richer post-work life serving others and churches looking to mobilize this large potential volunteer force.
Thought leaders from across the country gathered in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 12-14 for the Retirement Reformation Roundtable (www.retirementreformation.org) to spotlight what they say is a huge missed opportunity — the many people who settle for leisure when they stop working, rather than finding fulfillment in serving God and others.
From a series of papers presented at the gathering, roundtable participants will produce a Retirement Reformation Manifesto: A Declaration of Unity and Opportunity, outlining how older adults can make more of their latter years by finding new meaning and purpose, and how churches can tap into this largely overlooked kingdom-building force.
The roundtable was held under the theme of Jesus’ words in John 15:6: “You did not choose me, but I chose you to bear much fruit, fruit that will last.” Participants included leadership expert Hans Finzel, bestselling generosity author Brian Kluth, The Third Calling authors Richard and Leona Bergstrom, and Bob Karcher, author and vice president – global coaching at Halftime Institute.
From grandparenting roles to senior-living communities and inter-generational relationships, the roundtable presentations addressed cultural and biblical views of senior life.
“There is a growing recognition that the time is ripe for a revolution in the way we look at retirement,” said Retirement Reformation founder and roundtable host Bruce Bruinsma. “God’s call on our lives is for a lifetime, and does not end when we stop working.”
The need for a major re-evaluation is being driven by big social changes, with some 50 million Americans of retirement age and the number of those 65-plus worldwide expected to triple to 1.5 billion by 2050. Thanks to better health, more and more people face 20 or more years of potentially active life after they quit working, with many expressing more interest in spiritual issues as they age. At the same time, depression and loneliness among the demographic are on the rise.
For roundtable participant Richard Bergstrom, “it was refreshing to realize there are other people pressing in on this issue, who are committed to changing the mentality of retirement purely as leisure or withdrawing, and to challenge people to remain engaged in life, in ministry, in service.”
The Retirement Reformation manifesto could help play an important part in bringing about important social change, he added: “I believe this movement has the potential to have far-reaching impact in the church, the culture and the world.”
The forthcoming manifesto is to be published at the Retirement Reformation website, promoted by roundtable participants, and included in a book, The Retirement Reformation, Bruinsma is publishing in January.
Active in business at 77, Bruinsma was spurred to action after informally surveying many of the clients he has helped through his Envoy Financial business, which serves ministers, missionaries and faith-based organizations. Having assisted them in preparing financially for their later years with a Future Funded Ministry plan, he was shocked to learn that, when asked what they intended to do in retirement, 85 percent of them said “nothing,” or some version of that couched in terms of “leisure” or self-focused activity. “We are to remain faithful for a lifetime,” he said.
Retirement Reformation (www.retirementreformation.org) was founded to help Christians approach retirement as an opportunity to worship and serve God in new ways, sharing their wisdom, experience and resources. It also assists churches and organizations in maximizing the gifts of a largely untapped constituency by equipping older members and supporters for active involvement in ministry.