Why Do We Act Like There Is An Age Restriction on Spiritual Growth?
For the last several decades, Western churches have focused the bulk of their resources on the early stages of discipleship—children’s Sunday school, youth group, college ministry. While these are all important, we have neglected the spiritual growth of those in the second half of life. In fact, an outside observer might think that after the growth of the college years, the goal is simply to coast through the rest of your Christian life.
Michelle Van Loon has a different idea. In Becoming Sage, she challenges those in midlife and beyond to continue pursuing radical spiritual growth, and she’ll help you get started. She explores what the unique challenges of midlife can teach us about Jesus and how to think about everything from church, friends, and family, to money, bodies, and meaning. Don’t settle for a life of coasting. Revitalize your spiritual growth today.
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About the Author
Since coming to faith in Christ at the tail end of the Jesus Movement, MICHELLE VAN LOON'S Jewish heritage, spiritual hunger, and storyteller's sensibilities have shaped her faith journey and informed her writing. She is the author of five books, including If Only: Letting Go of Regret, Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith and the forthcoming Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity. Michelle is a regular contributor to Christianity Today's women's blog, In Touch magazine, and is the co-founder of www.ThePerennialGen.com, a website for midlife women and men. She's married to Bill, and is mother of three and grandmother of two. Learn about her writing and speaking ministry by visiting her website, www.michellevanloon.com.
Table of Contents
Section 1 What does it mean to become sage?
Chapter 1-Grow Up! 17
Chapter 2 Midlife and Beyond 31
Deconstructing Life 1.0
Section 2 How can we cultivate spiritual maturity in the second half of life?
Chapter 3 Going to Church, Being the Church 51
A sage's shifting relationship with their local congregation
Chapter 4 We Heart Family 69
The gifts and challenges of changing family relationships
Chapter 5 Forever Friends 89
Some relationships endure, others fade, and others begin
Chapter 6 Glorify God with This Body? 105
Aging bodies are far more than disposable containers for souls
Chapter 7 You Can't Take It with You 123
Financial discipleship beyond formulas
Chapter 8 Happiness Is Spelled with a "U" 135
The essential task of nurturing emotional and spiritual health
Chapter 9 From Doing to Being 149
Vocation is much more than what's on a resume
Chapter 10 What's It All About? 163
The wisdom of loving God and His world
For Further Reading 187
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Becoming Sage
“We have so often focused our attention on millennials and the church while failing to attend to the significant realities surrounding discipleship in midlife. In this gem of a book, Michelle Van Loon issues an important wake-up call to the church to cultivate and support lifelong discipleship as she invites us to consider the particular issues being navigated by those in midlife. A powerful antidote to formulaic and quick-fix discipleship, Becoming Sage is a must-read for all in ministry and all in midlife as it calls us to nourish slow-growth disciples who can bear fruit in each season of life.”–Kristen Deede Johnson Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs; professor of Theology and Christian Formation,Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI
“I’m old, depending on who’s counting, so Becoming Sage spoke to me. Michelle Van Loon parses the realities of these years—spiritual, emotional, physical, and social. As Michelle points out, most of us are much more familiar with the stages of the first half of life than the last. Especially interesting was her insight into how our walk with Christ naturally changes and how we can leverage this season for maximum wisdom and influence—how we can become sage and not just old.” –Lee Eclov Pastor and author of Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything
“Becoming Sage is a gift to people of faith in midlife, that disorienting ‘time of reckoning’ that Michelle Van Loon so deftly describes. We are encouraged to continue on as she reminds us that maturity is not a destination, but a process that doesn’t follow a ‘tidy trajectory.’ Humorous, honest, and wise, Michelle is just the guide many of us need as we move through the second halfof life. The prompts for reflection at the end of every chapter are much more nuanced and helpful than the norm. I look forward to journaling through each one.”–Jennifer Grant Author of When Did Everybody Else Get So Old: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife and Maybe God Is Like That Too
“In light of almost one third of the population moving into midlife, the church needs guidelines as to how to move on to maturity and to not waste what can be, by God’s grace, the most impactful and effective season of our life in advancing the kingdom of God. Michelle Van Loon has provided much-needed wisdom as to how to maneuver through the second half of life.” –Nancy J. Kane Author of Stages of the Soul: God’s Invitation to Greater Wisdom and coauthor of From Fear to Love: Overcoming Obstacles to Healthy Relationships
“Becoming Sage is for all of us who are famished, who long for sense amid so much ‘Christian’ nonsense. In this book, Michelle Van Loon reveals just how sage she is. And if we heed her wisdom, it will rub off on us. I want to stick this book into the hands of every pastor, church leader, and seminary professor. It’s that valuable. Apprentice yourself to Michelle’s God-given wisdom; I have.” –Marlena Graves Author of the forthcoming The Way Up Is Down
Most of us hope to grow wise as we grow old. But merely acquiring more biblical information or attending more church gatherings doesn’t automatically lead to wisdom. In Becoming Sage, Michelle has given us reliable guidance for the journey of maturing in our life with God. In it, she provides a vision for a lifetime of transformation. –Gem and Alan Fadling Founders of Unhurried Living and authors of What Does Your Soul Love?: Eight Questions That Reveal God’s Work in You
“As our churches focus on youth, studies show there’s a quiet mass exodus of midlifer’s out the back door. What are we missing? Michelle Van Loon shows us. With her characteristic brilliance and insight, she unpacks this little-known movement, then guides us—and the church—on a solid path toward the wisdom and spiritual maturity God calls all of us to. I personally feel freed from the twin evils of chasing youth and fearing old age. Instead, I’m aiming to ‘become sage.’” –Leslie Leyland Fields Author of Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing and Living the Truth of Your Life
“Midlife can be a confusing and disorienting period. Too many enter these years unprepared, resulting in painful wandering or stalled maturity. Michelle Van Loon argues that it doesn't have to be this way. She has thought much and thought well about midlife. Michelle writes as a sage—a trustworthy guide through this vital stage.” –Eric Schumacher Coauthor of Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women
“When empty nest and job transition and location change all collided, I looked for a wise voice to guide me forward and came up short. Becoming Sage is exactly what I was looking for. With Michelle Van Loon as our seasoned guide, this book needs to be in the hands of everyone at midlife and beyond.” –Anita Lustrea Host of Faith Conversations podcast, spiritual director, media coach
“There are so many opportunities to pursue in midlife. One is the invitation to become sage—spiritually and emotionally mature—intentionally drawing closer to God and His ways. If that’s something you long for, this book will help you get there.” –Jill Savage Author of Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next
“Michelle Van Loon introduces us to a veritable ‘who’s who’ as she winds her way through the gifts and realities of becoming a sage. Drawing upon earthy biblical characters; wise, modern guides; as well as her own personal journey, she gives hope, vision, and purpose to this culminating season. You will feel that you are ‘surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses’ who not only see you but also understand you as you move irresistibly toward the full flowering of your one, particular life.” –David Booram Coauthor of When Faith Becomes Sight: Opening Your Eyes to God’s Presence All Around You Director of Fall Creek Abbey
“In this wise and welcome field guide, Michelle Van Loon casts a vision for what our lives might look like if we refuse to settle and instead use the many challenges, losses, and disappointments of midlife as traction to keep growing. Becoming Sage not only empowers us to flourish today—it infuses us with hope for our future.” –Dorothy Littell Greco Author of Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You and the forthcoming Marriage in the Middle