It’s the summer of 2021, and we’re gazing ahead to fall. How are you doing? Can we help?
Recently, GenOn hosted an online Round Table to discuss Sunday morning intergenerational faith formation. We Zoomed and all shared ideas, benefits, and how to make potential hybrid settings work. One participant observed that people have become comfortable worshipping from home (good!), Sunday mornings are more relaxed (awesome!), but that maybe people need motivation to return to in-person church community (aha!). A bit of inertia has settled in after more than a year of being home.
Special congregational gatherings can be the catalyst for folks to shower, put on some nice clothes, get out of the house, and rediscover the joy of being around people again. Let’s help people of all ages move forward reconnecting with intention.
We also heard that there is still a tentativeness in planning indoor congregational ministry. When will it be safe to gather with children? Will we have enough adult teachers? Masks or no masks? Food or no food?
Often the need to simplify means trying something new. Could this be the opportunity to shift from age and stage classes to intergenerational gatherings? Could this be the time to foster deeper relationships across generations? I’ve heard several folks say recently, “If not now, then when?”
When it’s time for your congregation to gather, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have everyone together? To not send the adults to one room, the children to another, and the teens to the couches in the basement? What does gathering together mean? What does gathering together look like?
At GenOn, we define intergenerational ministry as that which nurtures Christ-centered community by bringing together two or more generations, in planned and purposeful settings, where all are mutually invested. While we often think intergenerational means children and adults, or means all ages, it doesn’t have to. Who is part of your congregation? Whoever you have, whatever the ages, make the time planned and purposeful (intentional) so that relationships are formed and deepened. All are present, and also all are contributing. Whatever the age.
Maybe you’re ready for a full shift from graded Sunday school classes to all-age gatherings. Or maybe you want to just hold special intergenerational events until it’s time to return to age and stage classes—kind of ongoing rally days this fall. Or maybe you’ll launch a hybrid approach (tired of that word yet?) where three Sundays out of the month are age and stage, and the fourth is intergenerational. Or the reverse.
GenOn creates all of our intergenerational offerings around the model of the early church found in Acts 2:42, “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” Keep reading that passage to learn that out of those regular gatherings a “sense of awe came over everyone,” that they “distributed proceeds to everyone who needed them,” and “they shared food with gladness and simplicity.” “They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone.” That’s more than plopping children or teens into the adult class. Or than a gathering all about crafts. It’s about mutual investment and relationships. And that is what forms community. Christ-centered community. Community that combats social isolation and rekindles relationships—so desperately needed after our COVID season.
It feels good to plan for fall face-to-face faith formation, doesn’t it? Let’s not make it any more difficult than it’s likely to be. If you’re convinced, too, that intergenerational community is a powerful way to be the church, now’s a good time to try something new. We love helping churches do just that. Want to chat?
We have explored and held some inter generational events separate from worship, including children of different ages and several adults with good success, and appreciated by everyone. Also have included “stories for the Young at Heart” even if there are not children or youth present – and they were appreciated. Our small congregation is now worshiping in person and everyone is enjoying both the service and the inter-connection.