Part 3 of a 4-Part Series: GenOn Ministries defines intergenerational ministry as nurturing Christ-centered community by bringing together two or more generations in planned and purposeful settings, where all are mutually invested.
Intergenerational ministry is more than faith formation curriculum. It is about infusing the whole church with an ethos—the characteristic spirit of the community guided by its beliefs or ideas. Eventually, this intergenerational spirit impacts everyone and everything.
Where to begin? We have identified four ministry areas for the church: worship, study, service, and fellowship. Using our free Snapshot tool with a team, evaluate and discuss all ministry areas, choosing one area to start for being more intentionally intergenerational. Details are in Snapshot and we’d love to guide you along the process. More information
In Part 1, I highlighted the ministry area of worship, specifically worship leadership. In Part 2, we discussed study. Our next ministry area to focus on is fellowship. The goal is for the church to create time to share stories and experiences across the generations, informally (though intentionally), often over a shared meal.
In fellowship, we practice relationships that model kingdom of God living, where Christ-centered relationships incarnate the mind and spirit of Christ. We care for and about one another as we share food, fun, and conversation. We practice respecting the worth, dignity, and preciousness of one another through the understanding that “we are all children of God and deserve to be treated that way.”
Intentional fellowship generally centers around play or a shared meal (or both). When we have fun or eat together, we reveal something about ourselves and come to understand much about others. Though spending time with our peer group is important, building relationships with those of other generations benefits all and vitalizes (or revitalizes) the congregation. We can then know and appreciate those with whom we may not often associate. Sociological structures are broken down, and a sense of belonging is instilled for everyone.
Biblical fellowship (from the Greek word “koinonia”) emerges from the unity of the Spirit. This kind of fellowship is more than just friendliness or community. It’s Christ-centered community starting with Christ-centered relationships.
I often share about my grandmother’s relationship with my three sons. She visited on the weekend—sometimes (okay, many times) to babysit—but also to enjoy meals together, attend events, and shoot hoops in the driveway. As adults, my sons still laugh and smile recalling Mamaw stories, memories of their great-grandmother that are possible because they invested love and time in the relationship in mostly informal settings. Koinonia indeed.
Based on our definition of intergenerational ministry, what could you modify that you’re already doing in fellowship in your congregation to include and engage more generations?
Some ideas to get you started
- Intentionally mix generations in small groups at gatherings (by birthday months or color-coded name tags)
- Involve a span of ages in planning an event
- Provide conversation starters relevant to all ages present
- When including a meal, prepare the food and set the table(s) together in intergenerational groups
- Focus on collaborative rather than individual or competitive activities/games
- Expand current age-specific events to include older or younger generations
- BINGO or board game night with ice cream sundaes (assigned tables of mixed decades)
- Mini golf at a local course or throughout the church building and grounds (mixed-age teams)
- Collaborative art projects (murals, mosaic, collages)
- Trivia night on Zoom with predetermined breakout rooms for teams
- Paper airplane/kite making and flying
- Local trail hike
- Photo scavenger hunt in community park
- Hobby or skill “show and tell” stations (variety of ages as teachers)
- Stargazing with constellation apps in an open space
- Storytelling and singing around a campfire
GenOn resources especially for outdoor fellowship
- God’s World in Community: Spring/Summer
- God’s World in Community: Creation Care
- All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers for Summer
- All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers for a Very Blessed Summer
- All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers for Retreat
- LIFT: Summer Water Stories of Old Testament Stories (Summer Year 1)
- LIFT: Songs of Faith (Summer Year 3)
- GenOn Table Games
- Great Fun and More Great Fun: Recreation for Children and Youth
Intergenerational ministry starts with the next step. Pay attention to the definition and seek small wins to move your congregation forward. Want to talk about it? We’re available! Call (877) 937-2572 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Connecting is a specialty of ours.
Check out the 6-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational.
Consider our Intergenerational Ministry Starter Bundle or joining a GenOn Guided Growth Group (designed for smaller churches). More information
Other April 2022 IG Mix articles