With the first baby boomer turning sixty on January 1, 2006, the church should begin planning how to effectively minister to this largest of twentieth-century generations. To be sure, the members of this huge segment of the population have redefined a number of things in society since their birth. Many of the baby boomers sang along with Frank Sinatra when he crooned, "I did it my way." The boomers have done it "their way" as they set the standard for dress, music, politics, morality, education, and diet. In almost every area they have touched, they have set the tempo of change, and society has followed along.
By their sheer numbers, the aging boomers have gotten the attention of the business and entertainment world as more and more products, movies, television, and music genres are competing for the boomers' devotion and dollars.
The church stands at a crossroads as we contemplate reaching the boomers, who have bucked traditional standards since they first swayed to Elvis and then went to Woodstock. Can the church develop programs that will interest and involve the baby boom generation, many of whom who have, up to this point, rejected the nominal church?
For the church to minister effectively to this generation, several things must happen.
First, programs that appeal to the boomers' sense of social change must be developed. The boomers have always been about changing their world. From the drug culture and Jesus movement of the sixties, to protesting the Vietnam War and stopping lumber companies from destroying wildlife habitats, the boomers have wanted to make a difference in "their" world. While many of the causes they were involved in as youth were misguided, the fact remains that this generation can be the generation that helps to propagate the gospel around the world. Challenged and channeled in the right direction, the boomers can help promote missions and ministry from the inner cities to the islands that need to hear about Jesus.
Second, boomers are still busy with life, and the church must recognize that offering short-term commitments and projects may produce more results than asking for long-term ones.
Third, the church should not back away from its message of salvation and commitment. Boomers have always disdained fraud and hypocrisy. They reacted strongly against former President Nixon's deceit in Watergate, as well as against several ministers' moral failures of the eighties.
Finally, the church that attracts boomers will need to have both music and a message that is relevant to their life and centers on making them more effective in their family and business and in building long-term relationships. Despite the desire for personal improvement, the call to discipleship cannot waver in its demands for sacrifice! In reality, many boomers long to commit themselves to something larger than themselves. Many boomers who have lived for themselves also can relate to Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones' song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction!" At this point, many are searching for a purpose and reason to go on living.
After years of centering on personal fulfillment, this generation can now be reached and challenged to make a difference in people's lives across the world for both time and eternity! The church of the twenty-first century must pray, plan, and prepare to reach this huge mission field while it is ripe and white unto harvest.