Faith formation for two or more generations together

Posted by Liz Perraud at

Liz Perraud
Executive Director
GenOn Ministries

GenOn 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.

We identify four ministry areas impacted by intergenerational community: worship, study, service, and fellowship. Using our free Snapshot tool with a team, you can evaluate and discuss the four ministry areas, choosing one to start being more intentionally intergenerational. Details are in Snapshot and we’d love to guide you along the process with our Intergenerational Ministry Development for your leaders and volunteers.

Let’s talk about Study as a Ministry Area for intergenerational relationships: The goal is for the church to foster intergenerational Bible study using wondering questions and relational activities. Bible study is a time to grow in our understanding of God and God’s relationship with each one of us. It’s also a time to nurture habits of daily prayer and meditation. Learning intergenerationally means every voice is invited to speak, is heard, and is respected—together as equal parts of the Body of Christ.

As a young adult in Bible study, I was often intimidated by a generation or two older than I was. I didn’t feel smart enough or qualified enough to comment alongside them. It seemed that they knew all the answers and confidently so. I remained silent and soon dropped out. I would have gained much from wondering through the Bible with these more mature adults. Participating in a lunchtime Bible study years later, I grew more comfortable sharing my thoughts and questions, encouraged by a leader who wasn’t expecting “correct” answers, but inviting us all to share equally—of multiple generations and levels of Bible study experience. I felt more accepted and thus comfortable in participating. So, I did. I reflect now on how much my faith formation would have benefited from that even more as a child or teen.

Intergenerational study may supplement age or stage study, allowing for both in your church. Where can two or more generations participate in mutually contributing Bible study more often in your congregation, nurturing Christ-centered relationships?

Some ideas to get you started
Begin your time reading the scripture aloud in multiple parts, intentional about age variety
Use curriculum or a resource designed explicitly for intergenerational study
Adapt age-specific curriculum converting to “wondering” questions for scripture reflection
Study scripture using Lectio Devina for reading, meditation, and prayer
Move Bible study outdoors—perhaps around a campfire to share and reflect on the story of Moses and the burning bush or in a boat to imagine Jesus calming the wind and the waves
Provide opportunities to share personal stories sparked by scripture
Rotate the question-asking (or wondering prompt) among all ages
Plan for smaller intergenerational break-out discussion groups or pairs 
Share opportunities for praying out loud, providing printed prayers as needed
Schedule Bible study at a time that is welcoming to all
Consider the furniture for your Bible study setting. Is it comfortable for all who are invited?

Some helpful GenOn Bible study resources
LIFT (Living In Faith Together)
God’s World in Community
All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers 

Especially for getting outdoors
Using God’s World in Community: Creation Care, plan a simple gathering that includes responding to scripture with a Creation Care or a Creation Enjoyment activity
Using All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers for Retreat, plan for an extended day at the church or a weekend away
Using LIFT (Living In Faith Together) (see each Spring and Summer collections), gather around tables (45-60 min) to break bread, study God’s Word, play, and pray intergenerationally

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! Email us to get started (

Check out the 6-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational.

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