What Does Faith Formation Look Like in the Third Third of Life?

I’ve reached the third third of my life. What does faith formation look like after a life of going to church and being serious about my faith?

In many ways, the life of faith for those in the third third of life (after about age 60) looks a lot like it did before. As gardeners know, even if you’ve weeded and cared for a garden for many years you still have to do that going forward. To use another analogy, if you have been married for years, you can’t simply ignore your spouse and expect to have the relationship continue as it has in the past. The life of faith is similar. Relationships and gardens, like our faith, need tending if they’re going to flourish. So expect to continue learning with others, attending worship, and engaging in Bible study, prayer, and other faith practices—just as you have been doing. There are, however, some new opportunities that come with age.

Some people find they have more time to listen and watch for the Holy Spirit’s movement in their lives, congregation, family, and community.

Developing the practice of gratitude is important. Gratitude blesses others, and research shows that the practice helps older adults to flourish too.

As we age, we also accumulate wisdom. We’ve seen more joy and sadness in our lives than most younger people have. Those experiences have given us personal knowledge of God’s faithfulness. Reflect on those things and share them with others in your family and your congregation. Older people are often good candidates for being mentors to teens or young adults.

About the Author

Laura Keeley is a regional catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries and director of children’s ministries at 14th Street Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich. Robert J. Keeley is a professor of education at Calvin College and director of distance education at Calvin Seminary.

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