Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Retirement issues

A friend asked me over these last couple of days to help in the process of devising a questionnaire for retired Baptist ministers.  He had worked hard at some of the issues that Baptist ministers particularly have to face.  Like all retirees so much depends on health, finance and relationships but questions about where to live, how to find accommodation, whether to move away from the churches they have served all have an edge.  Even more sharp-edged are questions about losing a public role with all its given relationships and expectations.  Ministers respond very differently to suddenly finding themselves in a new place without being able to exercise ministry as they once did.

One of the most interesting sections of the putative questionnaire concerns relationships.  Relationship with God is primary with questions about personal spirituality and accountability. Relationship with a local church is also vital with questions about which kind of church and on a Likert scale (1-5) how happy are they within this church.  How much do they feel part of it?  How good is the relationship with the minister? Do you belong to a home group and other group? Do you have good friends in the church?

The section on relationships also asks about Baptist regional ministry and a sense of belonging to the 'wider Baptist family'.  Does the minister have meaningful contact with other ministers?

Of course there is much else that is asked.  It's a long questionnaire - probably too long. I guess the process of its devising has some way to go.  Bluntly, I confessed that such a task is not my gift!  But it really made me think with gratitude about how I would fill in that section on relationships. For all retirees the loss of role and coping with ageing forces us to face a new range of life issues, but relationships with God, church, family, friends and the wider family remain constants!

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