This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries.
“As God’s family we need to pause at important moments to acknowledge God’s presence and faithfulness and celebrate as a community how God is at work. One of the ways to do that is by marking the faith milestones in our lives.” —from Celebrating the Milestones of Faith by Robert Keeley and Laura Keeley.
You may already have a milestone ministry in your church. If you do, you probably celebrate events like baptism; graduation from grade school, middle school, high school, and college; marriage—you get the picture. Many of those celebrations deal with events happening in the lives of younger families. But what about people in the third third of life?
Remembering that the faith journey is lifelong, consider including some of these milestones, if you don’t already have them, to your list of celebrations and caregiving opportunities:
- becoming empty nesters
- becoming grandparents
- moving to a retirement community
By marking these ongoing challenges and changes in the Christian life, the church offers a spiritual family context that will support and nurture adults through transitions that can sometimes be difficult.
Celebrating Milestones in Your Church Community
- For more information on the importance of milestone programs, check out Celebrating the Milestones of Faith by Laura Keeley and Robert J. Keeley.
- Milestones Ministry provides 12 helpful modules to help churches celebrate adult milestones.
- For another example of how some churches use milestones, see Milestones Ministry: A Different Approach to Outreach and Lifelong Faith.
Celebrating Milestones in Intergenerational Groups
- Sometimes milestones are best celebrated and shared through story. Milestones Ministry, mentioned above, sells these bowls and stones. Although they were originally created to be milestone markers, they can serve equally as well for story prompts. Karen DeBoer, creative resource developer for Faith Formation Ministries, suggests buying a set of these stones (or making your own with a lovely bowl and a set of blank stones from the dollar store) and using them in an intergenerational group of older adults and teens/young adults. Each person could select a stone, think of something the stone reminds them of, and share how they experienced God’s faithfulness through an event in their life. What a powerful way to celebrate milestones, develop relationships, and deepen faith through shared experiences!
FOR THOUGHT OR DISCUSSION
- How well does your church celebrate milestones?
- What milestones might you celebrate with people in the third third of life?
If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies.