Baby Boomers and the budget
January 25 2002 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Baby Boomers and the budget | Friday, Jan. 25, 2002

Friday, Jan. 25, 2002

Baby Boomers and the budget

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer

The first time I came across the term, "Baby Boomer," (in the book "Great Expectations"), I suddenly realized they were talking about me - people born between 1946 and 1964. We are perhaps the most studied age-cohort on the planet. We have been the subjects of literally countless research projects that have charted and scrutinized our ever-waking moment.

Now George Barna, the respected church growth demographer, has uncovered some rather unsettling characteristics about my generation in terms of church attendance and support. While seen as the "wealthiest generation of all time," we are also the most self-absorbed with "tenuous ties to the church." Barna goes on to warn " ... in the days to come, I see them dropping out (of the church) as their children continue leaving home." All of this, Barna continues, will lead to financial woes for many congregations.

The financial changes may already be appearing on the horizon, with a drop of six percent nationwide in America in charitable giving in 2000, following a nine percent drop the year before. Even among born-again Christians, says Barna, there was a 16 percent decline in dollars contributed to all non-profits (including churches) in 2000.

What can we do about all of this? Throw up our hands and accept whatever comes (or doesn't come) our way?

To begin, we must acknowledge that many of the traditional methods of church support may be headed for some significant changes. In most churches today, people over age 55 provide most of the financial support. As Baby Boomers move into that age bracket (the oldest Boomers turned 55 last year), Barna warns us not to look for Boomers' stewardship habits to continue in the pattern of their elders.

Boomers, while less inclined to give money than older generations, are more willing to give of their time. Volunteerism is at an all-time high. There is a renewed excitement about hands-on missions, motivating people to give up their vacation time to go somewhere on a mission trip - even paying all or most of their own expenses. They want to be doing, not just giving.

In my lifetime there has never been a greater need to teach Christian stewardship. Too often, churches and conventions have responded to stewardship needs with quick fix fund raising tactics and emotional pleas. Many church members will no longer give simply because we need the money. Where's the money going? Who is it going to benefit? What are my other choices?

There is no easy, one-step solution to the situation at hand. Perhaps we are reaping the harvest of what we failed to do in teaching stewardship and mission support to an entire generation of people. Or maybe we're seeing the results of what we did do: becoming too focused on ourselves - our denominational differences - rather than staying focused on missions and evangelism.

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1/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments
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