April 2019 | Volume 14 | Issue 4
Life Stages and Missions
A tool to engage every decade’s global potential
Our society has spent a lot of time analyzing the characteristics of each generation. Such critiques often are valuable, but life stages also define important opportunities and obstacles to missions involvement. To highlight ways to engage key missions potential in your church, we suggest studying each decade and its unique characteristics. Generational and contextual differences shape some of these decade markers.
Identify the Decades
We suggest that you begin by estimating the percentage of your adult congregation represented by each decade: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s+.
Some churches have a fairly even spread of ages while others find that their people cluster into a couple of primary decades. Identify your largest decades and focus greatest attention on there.
Parse Decade Differences and Potential
1. Define decade characteristics. Before looking at the analyses we present below, challenge your missions team to identify major characteristics they see marking each decade of adults in your church. We are providing a blank chart for your use. Look especially for descriptors that are likely to impact missions involvement.
Any characteristic you name will not represent everyone. But identify traits that describe a large percentage of those in that particular decade. If your church has a lot of singles in some decades you may want to consider them separately.
2. Compare to our decade list. After you are finished, compare your list to the decade characteristics we outline starting on page X. Your list can be shorter, but include characteristics that seem to most influence the missions engagement of your congregation. Don’t read the opportunities side of the page until you have completed step 3.
3. Identify decade opportunities. Return to brainstorming mode and list all of the ways that your church might most effectively engage people of each decade in missions. Be creative.
4. Compare to our decade opportunities. When you are finished, compare your second list with our missions opportunities column. Add and amend until you think both columns represent well the profile of the various decades in your local body.
Build a Plan
Concentrate first on the decades that represent the largest percentage of people in your church. Which of these are most and which are least involved in missions? Looking at your list of characteristics, can you see reasons why you have been successful/unsuccessful in engaging those in that life phase?
If your largest decades are not represented well on your missions team, ask a few key leaders from those decades to come and meet with you. Show them your characteristics and opportunities chart and ask for their honest reactions. Amend your list as needed. Ask for their suggestions on where to begin to improve your connection to the people in their life phase.
Finally, list a few action steps that you think would be most effective in connecting better to those in your congregation in your largest decades. Then identify just two or three places to begin. Don’t try to accomplish too much at one time. Make sure you involve several individuals from that decade to help develop new connection points.
Life-Stages Missions-Engagement Sample Study
Here we have prepared a sample study of characteristics and opportunities for each age group. Please reference the sample by clicking the green button after conducting your own analysis/brainstorming sessions.