Break in the shoes first -- Pilot: Step 4 in Becoming Intentionally Intergenerational

Posted by Liz Perraud at


Liz Perraud
Executive Director
GenOn Ministries



On my morning walk, I enjoy listening to podcasts. I have several go-to programs and one of my current favorites is “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.” She’s the author of “The Happiness Project.” On her podcast, she discusses happiness and good habits with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. They banter back and forth with helpful insights, advice, and personal stories. A recent topic was a happiness “stumbling block.” They suggested that for a special occasion or big event when you want to “give it your all,” don’t do something for the first time. An example was getting new shoes for an important gathering (or hike/run) and failing to wear them beforehand. Ouch! Or trying a new recipe for a dinner party (unless you’re a great cook and you’re used to cooking new things). Uh oh! Instead, practice or pilot something before the significant event.

For you, the organizer, piloting means trying something out first, almost a practice run (breaking in the shoes, taste-testing and timing the new menu). But piloting also gives others a chance to experience something new on a preview basis. Change is hard for most people. That’s no different than a church experimenting with being more intentionally intergenerational.

Most churches are multigenerational. With intentionality, any church can become intergenerational. The intergenerational church thrives with an emphasis on relationships, moving beyond the goal of just everyone in the same room at the same time.

What is intergenerational ministry? GenOn Ministries defines it as nurturing Christ-centered community by bringing together two or more generations in planned and purposeful settings, where all are mutually invested.

We recommend a simple and foundational six-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational. A series of articles explores each step. We began with Discover, then Evaluate, then Learnand now Pilot.

Step 4: Pilot an intergenerational gathering  

The Pilot step gives time for your planning team to brainstorm, ideate, and sort ideas for piloting an initial intergenerational gathering in your chosen ministry area (worship, study, service, or fellowship). Create a journey map to list action steps, develop a timeline, define leadership roles, and more.

Then do it! Hold your pilot intergenerational event and enthusiastically invite everyone to attend to get a taste of what may come later. Be intentional in the language you use to promote it as a pilot event. “Join us to try out something new one time”… “We’re experimenting with new possibilities and we need your participation and input." This is also the step to seek additional leaders and congregational support to launch future regular intergenerational gatherings, assuming you will proceed after the successful pilot. You get to define “regular” and adjust that frequency as you go.   

Ideas to try for an intergenerational gathering

Fall Holy Hike

LIFT "Try It" Session

God's World in Community: Tell Your Story

All God's Children: Church Family Gathers for Advent

Ready to start on this rewarding and intentional six-step path? We’d love to walk alongside you and your team! Fill out our Intergenerational Ministry Interest Form or email us at and we’ll be in touch with ideas to support your planning.

Other articles from August 2023 IG Mix

Two Questions: Lacy Finn Borgo

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