An intergenerational ministry is essential to church health. Read on and find out why we think it’s a must for a thriving community of faith.
Also, if you’re in the market for great ways to foster intergenerational ministry in your church, take a look at our post here. How are you living out intergenerational ministry in your church? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Intergenerational Ministry Provides Varied Leadership Perspectives
When your group of leaders has a diverse range of background and context, the same will be true of the wider church. And, as a result, your church will meet the needs of more demographics by way of intergenerational ministry.
This means your church will be prepared to potentially serve more people. And this will lead to a better retention rate of those coming through your doors. Additionally, people’s theological perspectives will be challenged and ideologies will be examined. Though this can cause some discomfort, it also facilitates spiritual growth and humility.
When building the leadership of your church, consider the age make-up at each level. Those invited to serve in a leadership capacity are more often than not, older adults. Each generation brings to the table a unique perspective. So, include a wide range of ages on governing bodies and ministry teams. Children, even if accompanied by a parent, can make fantastic leaders with creative ideas.
Intergenerational Ministry Offers Fresh Ideas
Intergenerational ministry gives space for members of all ages to share what they hope for and imagine. First, when one age group is privileged over all others, things remain relatively constant. This is lovely and comfortable and nostalgic for that group. However, what has always been done is often not best for progress and church growth.
Each generation’s struggles are both unique and universal. As a result, commonality and difference are discovered when young, old, and all in between share their ideas together.
This is wonderful for several reasons. First, each generation learns something new. Second, creativity is given life. Third, never-before-imagined events are tried. Fourth, more people in the congregation take ownership of what takes place.
So, encourage all ages to share their ideas and give outlets for expression. Include individuals from a wide range of age groups in brainstorming sessions, for example. Alternatively, create mixed small groups or host a coloring night for all ages.
Ask children, youth, young adults, families, retirees, the elderly what they would love to see happen in the church. Will any church be able to give breath to all the ideas? No, yet some will make the cut. As a result, more people will feel valued and served.
Intergenerational Ministry Includes the Marginalized
Many times, those not catered to in ministry have lost their voices. As a result, they don’t have a platform for sharing their hopes and needs. Therefore, the church isn’t able to see and hear the marginalized. This means they likely won’t stick around. And who can blame them for leaving?
Often, we speak of marginalization in terms of sexuality, gender, ability or ethnicity. Yet, marginalization happens around age, too. Routinely, faith communities exclude children, the elderly, single parents, and young unmarried professionals.
When practicing intergenerational ministry, the church hears and sees the marginalized. As a result, ministries transform to include those often left out of programmatic decisions. Also, more people connect to what the church has to offer.
God calls each gathering of Jesus followers to watch out for and cater to those on the edges. Marginalization almost always happens thoughtlessly. So, pay close attention to who your church includes most obviously. Then, stretch the boundaries.
Intergenerational Ministry Creates Connections
We are communal creatures who have spent almost our entire history living in multigenerational groups. We thrive in this environment as we hear stories of where we’ve come from and who we are. Especially as families spread around the country and globe we lose this connection.
Churches, particularly those in suburban and urban locales, are a bunch of people from varied pasts and presents all gathering together. As a result, one has the opportunity to know people one would never otherwise encounter if they’re a part of a church family.
When intergenerational ministry is done with intention, people from different generations make connections that would likely never occur outside the church.
Intergenerational Ministry Fosters Spiritual Formation
Throughout scripture, faith is an intergenerational reality. The young and old learn from and care for each other. They challenge one another to release their assumptions, think differently, and to practice compassion. Even today, thousands of years later, we read the scriptures told and retold by our spiritual ancestors. It turns out that Bible reading itself is intergenerational.
In God’s family, there is no hierarchy of power. Consequently, no matter one’s age, we are all teachers and learners. We are co-creators with the Divine and with one another. God calls us to guide one another in love and humility, holding fast to the love of God as our rule.
How much deeper is a faith that is rooted in the experience of those who have lived before and in the experience of one’s own life? And how much value is in the life and developing ideals of a culture that has grown up after your own identity and perspective has hardened some?
We each bear God’s image. So, of course, we discover our connection to the Divine as we encounter one another. It’s as though we plant seeds in each other’s hearts and minds that give way to growth, beauty and even more seeds we can then plant in the world.
For even more reading about the value of intergenerational ministry head over here to the Fuller Youth Institute.