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Growing Old in Church

series: Pastoring for Life: Theological Wisdom for Ministering Well

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Publishers Weekly starred review

Seasoned pastor and church leader Will Willimon excels at creating thought-provoking, accessible books for working pastors and seminarians. In Aging, he takes a theologically rich look at numerous aspects of growing old.

Drawing on Scripture, literature, current research, and his experiences as an aging adult, Willimon reflects on aging as a spiritual journey. He explores the challenging realties as well as the rewarding joys of growing old and shows pastors how to help their congregants grow old gracefully
and in good Christian hope. Willimon also offers practical advice on helping church members as they encounter retirement, aging, caring for the aging, loss, bereavement, and finding faith in the last quarter of life. This eloquent, delightfully Christian perspective on aging will be of interest to all who care for aging souls--not only pastors but also chaplains and other ministers in hospitals, hospices, and extended care facilities.

About the Series
Pastors are called to help people navigate the profound mysteries of being human, from birth to death and everything in between. This series, edited by leading pastoral theologian Jason Byassee, provides pastors and pastors-in-training with rich theological reflection on the various seasons that make up a human life, helping them minister with greater wisdom and joy.

Series Preface
1. Aging with Scripture
2. The Storm of Aging
3. Retiring with God
4. Successful Aging
5. With God in the Last Quarter of Life
6. Growing Old in Church
7. Ending in God


"Will Willimon is sui generis on the American religious scene. He has a distinctive ability to cover a host of urgent issues while remaining grounded in the transformative truth of the gospel. His writing is marked by wisdom, good humor, passion, and common sense. In this book he looks aging full in the face, understanding that it is, most predictably, a season of loss. But Willimon also knows that, for the Christian, aging permits honesty, gratitude, and most of all a durable sense of agency that is rooted in an embrace of vocation. I am glad, in my aging, that I have been instructed by this book. Many other readers--those aging and those who love an aging person--will welcome this book."

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Will Willimon has carried the faith throughout his entire life, and here he offers an incredibly touching, poignant, and compelling account of growing old, experiencing God in new ways, and finding hope in the life that Jesus offers. A must-read for Christians of any age."

Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author, president of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine

"Will Willimon has written many wise books, but this may be his wisest. He gently teaches us how growing old in faith is so dramatically different from simply growing old. He shows how aging calls us to relinquish our grip on some tasks and roles, to strengthen our grasp on abiding treasures, and to open our arms to new blessings we are being given. For those of us at the end of our days, this is more than a book; it's a companion along the way."

Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"I live in the eschatological tension between the already and the not yet: already in my sixties and not yet retired, and, more to the point, already in the final third of my life and not yet entirely reconciled to that fact. In short, I am one for whom Will Willimon wrote Aging, and I am grateful that he did. The book is remarkably honest, without a whiff of sentimentality or denial, and yet sincerely and substantively hopeful. It offers wise guidance and concrete advice for both individuals and churches. It is at once provoking, challenging, and inspiring, just as I would expect from Willimon's writing."

Craig C. Hill, dean and professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"For Christians who want to grow old faithfully and truthfully, Willimon offers an experienced voice. He never pretends that aging is simply a cheerful matter; instead he offers practical and biblical reflections for those who want their last years to draw them more deeply into the life of the church--reflections that in different ways may be just as helpful for those who are (for now) young."

Gilbert Meilaender, Valparaiso University

The Author

  1. Will Willimon
    Les Todd

    Will Willimon

    Will Willimon (STD, Emory University) is professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, where he was dean of the chapel for twenty years. He is a retired United Methodist bishop, having served eight years as...

    Continue reading about Will Willimon


"[A] bracing sermon of a book. . . . Besides his thoughtful theology, Willimon offers practical suggestions for what Christian churches can do for aging people and their caregivers, and prompts the aging with ways they can serve. Older Christians, those who attend to the elderly, and congregations in general will find this to be a valuable pastoral resource."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Willimon invites pastors to think intentionally about their own aging and the vocation of their elderly parishioners in this comprehensive and engaging text. . . . Willimon offers fantastic illustrations from his own experience as a septuagenarian pastor and vivid anecdotes from a lifetime of faithful service within various intergenerational congregations."

Michael Niebauer,

Christianity Today