In each edition of GenOn Connect, we will ask one member of the GenOn Ministries Advisory Council the same two questions about intergenerational ministry: “What keeps you up at night?” and “What gets you up in the morning?”
What keeps you up at night?
I bemoan the fact that we live in one of the most age segregated societies on the planet.
Peter L. Benson’s research and observations shared in his book, All Kids Are Our Kids (1997) is too often still true: “Religious institutions are one of the few remaining intergenerational communities to which youth have access … but congregation-as-intergenerational community, however, represents potential more than reality, since most communities of faith are as age segregated as the rest of our society.” Too many communities of faith have yet to tap into their potential to consistently and meaningfully gather all the generations.
What gets you up in the morning?
The words, “When can we do this again?” that I hear repeatedly following a cross†generational gathering and the pure joy of walking alongside congregations as they discover and celebrate their significant role as intergenerational community.
Example 1: The mission congregation that was fretting that they could not afford to rent more space so they could offer Sunday School, but upon forming a “Circle of Blessing” (creating a circle from eldest to youngest), they discovered that the 18 people who worshipped together that Saturday evening represented ten decades, from ages 3-months to 98! Households are seeking this kind of community.
Example 2: Witnessing a 10-year-old girl and a 101-year-old elder sit knee-to-knee, hold hands, and truly see “the other” as they hear God’s story and exchange their own stories; this, in a congregation where the generations do not normally interact because there are three worship services, and age-segregated learning is offered the same time as worship.
I rise each day appreciative of the relationships in my own six-generation family: My mother, 99, is of the GI generation, a spouse of the “Silent” generation, myself a Boomer, two Gen-X sons; our adopted extended family that includes two Kenyan Millennials and their Gen Alpha newborn.
With a Master’s Degree in Human Development and the Family, Linda has served the local, regional and national church for the past 40 years, always through a generational, lifespan lens. She is the ELCA Coordinator for The Generosity Project, a cross†generational, household focused approach to stewardship. You may learn more at www.homegrownfaith.net and on Facebook at Home Grown Faith.