Intergenerational ministry takes place when people from at least two generations intentionally gather for the same activity in the name of Christ, interacting with one another in ways which reflect mutual respect and appreciation.
Every church can be intentionally intergenerational in its ministry and faith formation experiences. In the book Generations Together, John Roberto talks about five essential components of congregation life—caring, celebrating, learning, praying and serving – that are at the heart of every Christian community. He says: “When a congregation commits itself to building a culture of intergenerationality through these five elements, each element becomes a sign of and instrument for the full experience of the body of Christ by all ages and generations.”
Cultivating caring relationships across generations in the congregation and community and becoming a life-giving spiritual community of faith, hope, and love.
Worshiping God together at Sunday worship that involves all of the ages and generations.
Engaging all ages and generations together in learning experience that teach scripture and the Christian tradition, informing and forming disciples of all ages in Christian identity.
Nurturing the spiritual life of the whole community through the congregation’s prayer ministry.
Involving all ages and generations in service and mission to the world, especially to the poor and vulnerable and in the works of justice and advocacy.
Congregations are discovering that bringing generations together provides benefits and blessings on a variety of levels—for the congregation as a whole, for families, for individuals of all ages, and for the wider community.
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5
One of our favourite books at Grow Ministries is Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark. This easy-to-read book is based on research and provides some really practical ideas to help us when we are thinking about how we can help to support our children and young people develop a life-long faith. The authors of Sticky Faith examined the factors that made “faith stick” during the years following high school. The young adults that participated in this survey were involved in their church youth group for four years during their high school years.
Firstly they discovered that involvement in all-church (intergenerational) worship during high school is more consistently linked with mature faith in both high school and college than any other form of church participation.
“While small group, mentoring, justice works, and a host of other youth ministry activities are important, the reality is that the challenge of kids, ministry program, and spiritual development are far too complicated to be met with a single solution. The closest our research has come to that definite silver bullet is this sticky finding: high school and college students who experience more intergenerational worship tend to have high faith maturity. We found this to be true in our studies of both high school seniors and college freshmen.”
Some other helpful observations were:
“The students we surveyed who had served in middle school or children’s ministry while they were in high school seemed to have stickier faith in college.”
“By far, the number one way churches made teens in our survey feel welcomed and valued was when adults in the congregations shown an interest in them.”
When thinking about how you can be intentional about intergenerational ministry, it might be helpful to consider some of the following:
- How can we involve as many generations in as many aspects of existing church life as possible?
- Add generations, not programs! How can we add an intergenerational aspect to existing programs?
- Can each ministry of the congregation have at least 10% of its activities intentionally intergenerational?
- What are we already doing with one generational group that could become intergenerational?
Here are some ideas of ways you could add intergenerational ministry to your congregation:
- Intergenerational congregational small groups.
- People from as many generations as possible serving as leaders in children’s and youth ministry.
- Adopt-a-grandparent or Adopt-a- grandchild programs.
- Worship or Learning that intentionally connects people of different ages.
- GIFT* Workshops (e.g. Advent, Lent, Pentecost, Baptism, Prayer)
- Intergenerational camp
- Intergenerational mission and service projects.
- Congregational baptismal sponsors
- Add intergenerational components to existing child/youth ministry programs.
- Congregational picnics.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
For information about Grow Ministries or for a brochure of resources for nurturing the faith in the home, please call Grow Ministries at 08 8267 7300 or visit the website: www.growministries.org.au