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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.

Retirement. Most adults dream of it: lying on the beach, golfing or fishing, spending time with grandkids, travel, travel, travel. But are those activities—wonderful as they might be—enough to fill our lives and give us purpose? Are they even possible for those of us with limited financial resources? 

The resources gathered here explore cultural stereotypes about retirement and biblical teachings about work. They invite older adults to reimagine their vocation in the third third of life rather than abandoning it. And they encourage congregations to look for new and meaningful ways of using the gifts of wisdom and experience among third-thirders in their pews: mission, service, mentoring, and more.


  • Saving Retirement. In this excellent article, Jeff Haanen explores the old stereotype of retirement as an endless vacation and explains why many adults find it unsatisfying and unfulfilling. Haanen challenges older adults to prayerfully explore living as humble servants and to fulfill their identity as true elders.

  • Why the World Needs to Rethink Retirement. Katie Robertson explain why the increase in an aging population may result in poverty in many places (when the retirement age of 65 was established, life expectancy was lower than 65!). She summarizes what some nations are currently doing and challenges readers to think about the need for change.

  • The Gift of Retirement. Judy Cook challenges us to plan for retirement and to view it as a gift from God—a time when pressure and binding schedules no longer control us. She also stresses the importance of being open to God’s leading us into new directions during the third third of life.

  • Mission Possible: Volunteering in the CRC. Discover the stories of several couples who have decided to use their retirement years for mission and service. You’ll also find a list of places to check out if you make that decision yourself or want to provide some meaningful direction to people in your pews.



  • Recognizing that many people now live 20-30 additional years after their active work life ends, how might your church community encourage retirees to discover new ways of working and serving? How can you use the wisdom of elders to enhance your ministry?

  • If you are a third-thirder, what are your plans for your retirement years? In what ways might the resources on this page challenge or affirm those plans?


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.

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