The following is my takeaways from the first three sessions.
I think it’s important to give you a little background about myself and current season of life as it will influence the things that stuck out most to me during the lectures. I am 34, married, and a mom to 2 boys – 3yr and 6.5yr–don’t forget the half. I had to miss the last 2 sessions because of kid pickup.
We attend chruch pretty regularly on Sunday mornings, and I help teach Sunday school when they need me. Our church is relatively small, and I always describe our congregation as having more members under the age of 18 than over. I have never verified those numbers, it’s just how it looks and feels to me.
What is Intergenerational Ministry Anyways?
Intergenerational ministry occurs when a congregation intentionally combines the generations together in mutual serving, sharing, or learning within the core activities of the church in order to live out being the body of Christ to each other and the greater community.*
Why Aren’t We Practicing Intergenerational Ministry?
Allen posed that very question to the group, and whether done with good intentions or out of ease, here were a few of the responses:
- Impatience with children in “big” church making it difficult to concentrate on the lesson
- Perceived success with youth ministries
- Teaching the same lesson but at different levels so it could be understood more easily by that level. (Ex: children’s church)
- Not wanting kids to be bored and dislike coming to church
- Younger generations rebelling against the established way things had always been done
What Went Wrong?
Allen began realizing unintended consequences of this generation separation. Youth groups weren’t saving our teens. Once they graduated from the youth group they were leaving the church as well at alarming rates because they didn’t recognize the church they were left with…
“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” 1 Corinthians 12:19-26 The Message
I had never thought about these verses talking about the different generations within the church, and I loved how Allen pointed us to them.
All About Balance
She concluded that not every experience in church had to be intergenerational. There are definitely times where children need the typical Sunday School lesson at their level. There are also times where a grieving widow needs to be surrounded by friends close to the same stage of life that know best how to support each other emotionally.
On the flip side, moms of young kids like me need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of this tough stage. Seniors need to feel included to maintain hope, and younger generations need to learn from their wisdom and life experiences. And we all need to be able observe children to know what Jesus meant by
“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” – Luke 18:17 NLT
Ok, so now what? Allen proved to me that we need to embrace intergenerational ministry. How could I apply this to my life…to my church? It sounded difficult, maybe impossible.
-Enter Wilson McCoy-
Practical Application of Intergenerational Ministry
McCoy offered us a simple, yet profound solution: Reading Scripture Together.
And not just reading through it, but dwelling in it, discussing it together, and reflecting on what we had learned. We even got to experience this practical application of intergenerational ministry together right then and there.
McCoy had us read through Exodus 34:1-10 following the steps outlined in Dwelling in the Word.
He had challenged 2 small groups in his own church to follow this same method for two months. His findings were that a vast majority of both groups found it to be a very good experience! As Allen put it later, when we interact across genearations, “We grow each other up!”
I really enjoyed hearing about the groups’ experiences through this expirement, and look forward to making reading scripture together more of a priority in my home and small group.
I wish I could have stayed for his session on how his church continued on their transition to becoming more intentionally intergenerational. I look forward to hearing it online as soon as it’s avaible! (Probably here) If you get a chance, I highly recommend listening through the entire “Bringing the Generations Back Together” Pathway. I will get a link added to this post as soon as it’s available!
*Holly Allen & Christine Ross, Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship