Part 2 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. Information here
In Part 1, I highlighted the ministry area of worship, specifically worship leadership. Our next ministry area to focus on is study. The goal is for the church to encourage intergenerational Bible study using wondering questions and relational activities.
Bible study is a time to nurture a desire to continue to study and grow in the faith. We also seek to nurture habits of daily prayer and meditation. Learning intergenerationally means practicing mutual investment where every voice is invited to speak, is heard, and is respected—together as equal parts of the Body of Christ.
There is a welcoming environment to wonder about scripture rather than expecting a “right” answer to a question posed by the teacher. Intergenerational study includes interactive components that intentionally build relationships. Intergenerational study may supplement age or stage study, allowing for both in your church’s context. Where can two or more generations participate in Bible study together more often in your congregation?
One summer, my church held a fully intergenerational evening Vacation Bible School. We broke into groups of about 12 for Bible time, mixing the ages. Using the Lectio Divina approach, we listened multiple times to passages of the creation story and shared words that stood out or “shimmered” for each of us. We wondered together about what these words might mean for our understanding of God or what God might be calling each of us to do. And then we responded creatively. I remember most vividly the week we drew the large mural—each adding a creature (giraffes, cats and dogs, butterflies). The involvement of all was planned and purposeful.
Based on our definition of intergenerational ministry, what could you modify that you’re already doing in Bible study to include and engage more generations?
Some ideas to get you started
- Move Bible study outdoors (i.e., around a campfire to reflect on the story of Moses and the burning bush or on a boat to imagine Jesus calming the wind and the waves)
- Share the reading of scripture in multiple parts, intentional about age diversity
- Use curriculum designed for intergenerational study
- Adapt age-specific curriculum converting to “wondering” questions for scripture reflection
- Study scripture using Lectio Divina for reading, meditation, and prayer
- Provide opportunities to share personal stories sparked by scripture
- Rotate the question-asking responsibility 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 resources
- LIFT (Living In Faith Together)
- God’s World in Community
- All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers
Especially for Lent
- Using God’s World in Community: Lent, walk around to table-top stations (indoors or out) for small groups to read, respond, and bless one another.
- Using God’s World in Community: Lent, read, respond, and bless one another at home weekly, followed by a virtual or in-person group conversation by all.
- Using a LIFT (Living In Faith Together) Lent unit (see each Spring collection), gather around tables (45-60 min) to break bread, study God’s Word, play, and pray intergenerationally.
- Using All God’s Children (Lent or Psalms for Lent), plan one or more longer intergenerational gatherings (1.5-2 hours) to eat, play, study, and close in brief worship.
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 our 6-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational.
Consider our Intergenerational Ministry Starter Bundle or joining a Guided Growth Group (designed for smaller churches).
Other IG Mix February 2022 Articles
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