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Faith and Hope in Midlife - eBooks.

Faith and Hope in Midlife - eBooks.

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Faith and Hope in Midlife: Reflecting on Churchgoers’ Experiences.

by Anne Shave

You are buying a zipped file containing eBook editions of this 246 page book in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats. (2022) ISBNS: PDF 9781991027061; ePub/Mobi 9781991027078.

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Based on interviews with churchgoers from Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic congregations, and conversations with clergy and spiritual directors, this book explores the experiences of Christians in midlife and considers ways that churches can support people in this life stage.

Chapter One provides an overview of some key themes and theories relating to midlife.

Chapter Two looks at the topic of faith development, through story, metaphor and theory.

Chapters Three and Four explore midlife churchgoers’ experiences of church – what they value, and why, and what challenges they face when it comes to church involvement.

Chapter Five focuses on individuals’ spirituality and spiritual practices at midlife.

Chapters Six and Seven propose ways that individuals and congregations might acknowledge, celebrate and respond to the spiritual development of parishioners in this life stage.

Chapter Eight draws these themes together.

At the end of each chapter there are questions for personal reflection or group discussion, and recommendations of relevant resources.

Reviewers’ comments

Review in NZ Methodist newspaper Touchstone April 2023, page 15.

Reviewer: Megan Blakie

“Midlife is a period of change and growth; the essence of this book is to help individuals and church communities recognise the spiritual needs of those in this age bracket. Pastoral carers, clergy, spiritual directors and midlifers themselves are likely to find the author's research and thoughtful enquiry a treasure trove for addressing spiritual developments specific to this stage of life.

Faith and Hope in Midlife evolved from Shave's doctorate in theology, completed in 2018 through Otago University. Much of the book is peppered with, and informed by, comments and stories from her interviewees: long-term Christians from Presbyterian, Anglican, and Catholic churches. Although Methodists weren't represented, Shave drew respondents from a diverse range of church and personal backgrounds.

Long-term church-goers - and, by default, church communities – are "not always well prepared to anticipate or negotiate such [midlife] changes," writes Shave, reiterating the thoughts of some of her interviewees.

Shave's background in adult education and high school teaching shines through in the book's approach, content, and layout She provides sufficient context and theoretical tools to make sense of the juicier explorations of midlifers' experiences. Readers unfamiliar with - or wanting a refresher of - spiritual development concepts, for example, are likely to find the discussion in chapter 2 helpful and accessible. Bolded subheadings and occasional tables of bullet points help navigate the reader and act as quick-reference guides.

Shave says her intention is "to raise more questions than I have attempted to answer." To that end, each of the book's eight chapters include reflective questions for individuals or discussion groups to ponder, plus a short list of recommended resources. The appendix details more of Shave's doctoral research.

Readers will gain insight into what midlife churchgoers value about their Christian faith, how it is evolving in their second half of life, and what they see as benefits and challenges of church involvement Shave talks of spiritual lives remaining 'generative' rather than stagnating or drifting. The ministry of spiritual direction for this age group features positively.”

Reviewer Megan Blakie is a Spiritual Director and writer

• • •

“Anne Shave lets us hear the voices of several dozen churchgoers at midlife as they discuss their hopes, fears, personal experiences, and God’s presence in the challenges and opportunities. She gives a clear presentation of patterns of discipleship and spiritual growth at midlife, and the longing of her interviewees for more – more depth of faith, more help with discipleship, more resources for the challenges, and more guidance for their inner journey. … Her book is a blessing for anyone at midlife. She provides reassurance of the significance and blessings of this underappreciated life stage. Shave also connects the themes of midlife – explored through interviews and a helpful overview of research – with faith communities, enabling more effective ministry with and to people in this life stage.”

Rev Dr Lynne Baab, author of A Renewed Spirituality: Finding Fresh Paths at Midlife and Embracing Midlife: Congregations as Support Systems

 • • •

“I highly recommend this book. Anne Shave brings experiences of midlife Aotearoa New Zealand churchgoers into creative, accessible dialogue with her extensive research on this phase of life which is rarely addressed in churches. True to her claim that her intention is to raise more questions than answers, Anne sits with the questions as stories, images and experiences trigger insights that offer new ways forward. … This book is a taonga (treasure) raising consciousness about the desire for the more that is at the heart of the midlife journey. … It is essential reading for those in midlife, for clergy and all concerned with communities of faith.”

Kathleen P. Rushton. Independent Biblical Interpreter and Spiritual Director. Teaching Fellow Trinity Methodist College

 • • •

“How can the church attend to the needs of people in midlife? This is such a vital question both in terms of how we care for people but also how the church maintains meaningful connection with this group in an age when many people are disconnecting. Anne Shave’s work is based on significant research and well-chosen interviews and provides an invaluable insight into the spiritual journeys and needs of this age group. Anne not only records her findings, but she also draws helpful conclusions. This is a good read, challenging and inspirational for church life.”

Rt Rev Hamish Galloway, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa NZ

 • • •



  • Introduction

1 — Counting our days

  • Defining midlife
  • Midlife crisis?
  • Contrasts
  • Tasks of midlife
  • Review and reappraisal
  • Fresh perspective
  • Where to from here?
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

2 — Faith development and midlife

  • Rosemary’s story
  • Jane’s story
  • Images of spiritual development
  • A journey
  • A slinky, spiral or labyrinth
  • Seasons
  • Organic models of growth and fruitfulness
  • Holy mixed metaphors
  • Faith Development Theory
  • Tony’s story
  • Faith transitions
  • Developmental expectation
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

3 — Part of the Family

  • Community
  • Small groups
  • Friendships
  • Children and families
  • Opportunities for service and for reflection
  • Service
  • Reflection
  • Silence
  • Experiences of worship
  • Music
  • Sermons and homilies
  • Holy ground
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

4 — Challenges

  • Family responsibilities
  • Care for children
  • The “empty nest”
  • Care for parents
  • Bereavement
  • Work
  • Pastoral care
  • Others issues and possible responses
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

5 — Something more

  • Desire for better understanding
  • Desire for deepening relationship with God
  • Simple prayer
  • Retreats
  • Long-established patterns of prayer
  • Desire for challenge
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

6 — Addressing the Discipleship Gap

  • Communal and individual responsibility
  • Ian’s story – Part One
  • Ian’s story – Part Two
  • Mentoring within congregations
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Experiences of spiritual direction at midlife
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

7 — Two case studies

  • The Moses Project
  • Ignatian Retreats in Daily Life
  • Points of commonality
  • Further thoughts to ponder
  • Questions for reflection or discussion
  • Recommended resources

8 — Observations and next steps

  • Churchgoers in midlife
  • Clergy
  • Spiritual directors
  • Denominations
  • Next steps

Appendix — The research process

  • The original interviewees
  • Churchgoers in midlife
  • Clergy
  • Spiritual directors
  • Selection of interviewees
  • Location
  • Limitations of the sample
  • Cohort effects



About the author

Anne Shave graduated with her doctorate in Theology through the University of Otago in 2018. Her research explored the experiences of Christians in midlife, within Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian congregations in New Zealand.

In 2019 Anne was a scholar in residence at Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre in Auckland, and also completed a short course in retreat direction and spiritual guidance at St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in Wales.

Formerly a secondary-school English teacher, Anne is now employed part-time within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and also works as a tutor at a disability support and service provider in Canterbury.


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