You’ve probably seen some of the numbers. When the Social Security began in the 1930’s, life expectancy was 62 – many people would never see a benefit – and there were 42 workers contributing to the fund for every one retiree receiving from the fund. Life expectancy for today’s 65-year old is well into the eighties and there are about three workers supporting the plan for every one beneficiary. Soon to be two for every one. Social Security depends on younger workers to pay the benefits for retired people. Social Security’s math won’t work all that much longer. They say the “go broke” date is now sometime during 2033.
A couple of years ago, Pew Research provided some pretty persuasive data to show the disparity in wealth between many older folks who receive social security benefits and the younger folks paying into the system. Social Security depends on younger workers to pay the benefits for retired people. Social Security’s math won’t work all that much longer.
Sometimes is seems as if those of us in the church have bought into Social Security’s bad math.
Too many of us in the church seem to think that once our kids are grown and out of the house (or back in the house), we need to begin to ease into spiritual and missional retirement. Oh, we’ll show up for worship when we’re not travelling or visiting the grandkids, but we’re done with teaching Sunday School, serving on the boards of the church and giving generously to the support of the church. We’ve taken our turn, now it’s time for someone else (younger) to take their turn.
So when did grateful service to the God who loves and redeems us become a matter of taking my turn? When did the word retirement enter the vocabulary of discipleship?
Langhorne Presbyterian Church is blessed by what I described in a recent sermon as “the Baby Boom Bubble.” Back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, there was in influx of wonderful then thirty-somethings eager to share the life of Jesus with each other and the world around them. Now in 2013 we are blessed with many fifty and sixty-somethings, most still eager to share the life of Jesus with each other and the world around them.
For reasons common to most North American churches and some probably particular to LPC, we Boomers have not done as well as we might – as well as Christ expects of us – in sharing the life of Jesus with our own children and with the X and Millennial Generations coming along after ours.
Retirement has never been an option in the church awaiting the Kingdom’s coming. It certainly is not an option now.
God is doing good things at LPC. Have you noticed the influx of new, younger, members and participants? Have you greeted some of our recent visitors? Have you heard some of their stories? Have you been praying for The Couples Connection (check out the description on the homepage at langhornepres.org to learn more)?
I don’t think God is bringing Gen Xers and Millennials to our fellowship in order to allow the Boomer Bubble to retire. I think God is calling those of us in the Boomer Bubble to redouble our efforts – our energy, intelligence, imagination and love – so that our generation might, even belatedly, “tell the coming generation of the glorious deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:1-8)
Boomers, God is calling us not to retire, but to listen to those younger than us and then to be willing to encourage and support them in living the joyful, glorious life of faith and service – in sharing the life of Jesus with one another and the world.
Xers and Millennials, tell us your stories, share your concerns and please listen for there is a story we have to tell about the joyful, glorious life of faith and service – in sharing the life of Jesus with one another and the world.
Social Security math pits one generation against another, the younger cruelly expected to pay for the excesses of the older. Kingdom math calls young and old together that we might “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
I’ll take Kingdom math over Social Security math any day.
See you Sunday