The invisible generation (Mike Collyer)

Monday, 28 September, 2009

Mike CollyerMike Collyer uncovers the invisible generation.

It is now a well established fact there are now more people of pensionable age than there are young people under the age of sixteen in the United Kingdom today. This fact is hardly acknowledged by the church and society in general in which 'young' is 'cool' and fashionable. There are all kinds of products and cosmetics that promote this idea. In this way we undervalue 'oldness' by trying to make it go away or cover it up with face wrinkle cream!

Institutional ageism, whether we like it or not, exists within the church. For instance, look at the disproportionate resources that are poured into ministry and mission for the younger generation compared with the older. Within the climate of pioneering ministries and fresh expressions of church, how often is attention focused towards older people and their interests? In this sense, older people can be described as a mission blind spot.

So, what about a mission-shaped church for older people - a generation that increasingly feels invisible, undervalued, isolated, an object of fun and whose spiritual needs are often overlooked.

Church Army, in partnership with the Leveson Centre, has produced a training resource entitled A Mission-shaped Church for Older People facing this challenge, which was very successfully launched last November at a day conference of the same name for which over 100 people registered.

Older people can be described as a mission blind spot

To celebrate the success of this event, we are running a duplicate one day conference by popular request in London (St Michael's, Chester Square) on 29th October and wish to send people with responsibility for mission and evangelism (trainers/pioneers) a personal invitation to attend. Bishop Graham Cray will be present, and keynote speakers will be CEO of Church Army Mark Russell and Rev Dr James Woodward, former director of the Leveson Centre and now Residentiary Canon of St George's Chapel, Windsor.

This is a unique opportunity to engage with the issues and to take mission with older people seriously.

About the author: 

Mike Collyer is a member of The Sheffield Centre team, exploring evangelism, spiritual needs and fresh expressions of church for older people. He has written a series of papers entitled Discovering Faith in Later Life.


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