Millions of American Christians are selling themselves short by settling for tee times and nap times when they could be experiencing a much fuller final chapter in life. But it’s not only their loss. In buying the idea that retirement is all about leisure and taking it easy, they don’t only miss out on the personal fulfillment derived from helping extend God’s kingdom by serving others. They also deprive others of the gift of their experience and resources.
These untapped riches are the driver behind the Retirement Reformation movement launched by Retirement Reformation champion Bruce Bruinsma, in conjunction with other key thought leaders on the subject. He and a team of Retirement Reformation Roundtable members are setting out to inspire and equip the many Christians among America’s 50 million or so retirement-agers to pursue spiritual, emotional, physical, relational and financial health rather than sit back and do little.
Bruinsma has enlisted the help of a group of leading thinkers and writers on senior-related issues in his mission. They joined him for an inaugural Retirement Reformation Roundtable on Nov. 12-14, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado to create new resources for individuals, churches and organizations on maximizing retirement, and spark a nationwide movement.
Having successfully helped thousands of individuals and many churches and Christian organizations assist their members and staff in saving well for retirement, Bruinsma was shocked to discover many were not prepared to live meaningfully and well when they quit working. Often money was not the issue; preparation and listening to God’s call on their life was the challenge. When he asked what their plans were for retirement, 85 percent told him, “Nothing,” or some version of that translated into leisure terms.
The need for a Retirement Reformation is fueled by the reality of increasing longevity, with many people living active--or not so active--lives 30 or more years after they stop working. But while a career may come to an end, God’s calling for his people to be part of extending his kingdom lasts a lifetime, Bruinsma contends. “Imagine what might be accomplished if more older Christians were actively engaged in meaningful ministry,” he says. “The world says that it’s all downhill after you retire, and you just need to try to enjoy as much leisure as you can before you die. Meanwhile, God invites us to be part of reflecting him to the world in every stage of life. Our last quarter could be our best season ever, if we take advantage of a life’s worth of knowledge and experience, combined with the greater freedom provide by both time and money.”
At 77 and active in business as the founder and CEO of Envoy Financial, Bruinsma has written three books with a biblical perspective on retirement and speaks to churches and organizations about how they can better help prepare both younger and older members for Kingdom service. When asked when he will retire, he responds, “I am! By doing exactly what God wants me to do, where he wants me to do it, and with those he’s chosen for me to do it with.”— quite a different response compared with “nothing.” He offers further resources through his Live With Meaning Foundation (livewithmeaning.org).
The Retirement Reformation was founded to help Christians approach retirement as an opportunity to serve God in new ways, sharing their wisdom, experience and resources. It also assists churches and organizations in maximizing the gifts of a largely untapped constituency by equipping older members and supporters for active involvement in ministry.