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Foundational Resources for “Third Third” Ministry

If you’re just getting into this ministry area, here’s a list of the best of the best resources in this toolkit—they’re a great place to start!


  • Aging Matters: Recovering the Value of Being an Elder. Stating that ageism is a critical problem that needs to be solved quickly, the authors maintain that the “church has been presented with a critical opportunity to model being a healthy intergenerational community which challenges ageism.”
  • Retirement as Celebration, a post by Jolene DeHeer, provides retirees with several reasons to celebrate the gift of retirement. 

  • Lifelong Faith, a journal edited by faith formation expert John Roberto, offers free downloadable volumes filled with many helpful resources on faith formation for all ages and stages of life. These two are particularly helpful for ministry with third-thirders:
  • Faith Formation with Baby Boomers (vol. 4.4) contains these articles:
    • “A Reflection on Ageism”
    • “How Well Do You Know the Baby Boom Generation? A Survey of Research & Analysis”
    • “A Reflection on Learning in the Third Chapter of Life”
    • “A Reflection on Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life” (by Richard Rohr)
    • “Developing Faith Formation for the Baby Boom Generation”
  • Adulthood (vol. 6.3) features the following articles:
    • “Spiritual Transformation: The Heart of Adult Faith Formation”
    • “Adult Spiritual Formation: Nurturing Adults in Christ and for Others”
    • “A View from the Community: What Are We Learning about Adult Faith Formation?”
    • “The Challenges and Opportunities for Faith Formation with Maturing Adults”
    • “Congregational Vitality and Older Adult Ministries”


  • Aging Matters: Finding Your Calling for the Rest of Your Life by R. Paul Stevens. In this reflective and insightful book, Stevens argues that retirement does not mark the end of our calling. Rather, he says that after retirement we have the opportunity to discern new callings and to keep working in some way until life’s end.
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. The ultimate point of this beautiful book is that living a good life to the very end is a more important goal than a “good death.” Gawande, a New York physician, urges readers to avoid “warehoused oblivion,” a term he uses to describe the years many people spend in nursing homes and undergoing endless treatments. He gives a moving account of his father’s death and stresses the importance of not only an advance directive but frequent conversations with family about end-of-life care.
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. In this challenging book, Franciscan monk Richard Rohr shows how the suffering in our lives is what makes us grow. “Some kind of falling,” Rohr says, is necessary for continued spiritual development. “Normally a job, fortune, or reputation has to be lost,” writes Rohr, “a death has to be suffered, a house has to be flooded, or a disease has to be endured.”
  • Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life by Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. Morgan. The chapters of this book by Thibault and Morgan, ages 65 and 83 respectively, draw on the resources of Scripture, the authors’ experiences, and wisdom from mystics and other spiritual forebears.
  • The Third Third of Life: Preparing for Your Future by Walter C. Wright. In an article in The Banner, reviewer Jenny deGroot offers this summary of Wright’s book: “Drawing on stories of others who have lived fully into the latter third, Wright asks readers to consider their own future and to be proactive in engaging the conversation with others.”
  • A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors by James M. Houston and Michael Parker. Cowritten by a theologian and an expert in gerontology and social work, this book takes an in-depth look at where the church is and where we need to be in the area of understanding and ministering to older adults. The book is a fine combination of theology and practical ideas for action.


  • Laura Keeley of Faith Formation Ministries and Mark Stephenson of Disability Concerns led a virtual town hall for Calvin Seminary students to introduce this toolkit. The webinar includes a helpful overview of how the toolkit is laid out and what is covered.


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.