Religious congregations are a significant setting for volunteerism in the United States, and increasing rates of volunteerism correlate with age. Because of their prolonged health and increased longevity, the large boomer generation represents a potentially significant volunteer resource for congregations. But current research on boomers and congregational life provides little information about this age cohort for engaging them in community ministry. Using a large purposive sample (n =
2883) drawn from Protestant congregations in four regions of the U.S., we explore differences between boomer volunteers and non-volunteers including self-reported motivations, barriers, and outcomes. Despite similarities in most demographics and barriers to volunteering, volunteers and non-volunteers report differing levels of motivation for and outcomes of volunteering. Using service-learning concepts to explore how characteristics of volunteer opportunities influence the faith of volunteers, we found that certain program characteristics indeed correlate with positive outcomes while other characteristics are generally absent. Based on these findings, we provide guidance for both congregation and community agency leaders to increase and enhance opportunities for boomer volunteers.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited