Our granddaughter is nearly four and asks “why?” a lot. We take walks on the path through the woods near our home which is often when the questions arise. “Why is this called ‘the woods’ and not ‘a forest’?” “Why aren’t there wolves here?” “Why are mushrooms growing at the playground?” “Why is your kitty in heaven?”
I usually respond in one of three ways.
“Because…” (when I’m fairly certain of the answer)
“I think…” (when I can make a good guess)
“I don’t know…” (when I haven’t a clue)
When I’m really on the ball, though, I answer with “What do you think?” Her answers are always more interesting than mine. She has an inherent curiosity to learn more and to not settle for surface observations. Though it feels like an endless loop sometimes, and unless it’s naptime, I welcome the intellectual exchange. It reinforces my own learning and understanding and opens me to something new. (What is the difference between woods and forest? It’s actually rather complicated.)
Can we be more childlike in our approach to intergenerational ministry and ask why? “Why might all ages benefit from knowing each other?” “Why should we all worship together?” “Why is an intergenerational church different from a multigenerational one?” “Why might relationships between and among generations be important in these physically distanced times?”
Sustain ministry for the long run by understanding the reason why. Research what the experts say about intergenerational community. Explore what’s written in the Scriptures about these kinds of relationships. And ask those in your congregation, “What do you think?”
GenOn’s Visioning Tool for Intergenerational Ministry is an ideal place to start to facilitate the “What do you think?” conversations. No need to wait until the pandemic is gone. This could be your in-between time to have such discussions to plan what’s next and begin to put new things into place that will stick around long after we’ve trashed our masks. In conditions of such social isolation that we are now experiencing, the church can be the catalyst for welcoming (and including) people of all ages—if we do so intentionally and safely. Now is not the time to scurry into our age-segregated corners but to come together in new and creative ways.
Our tool explores characteristics that underlie a church’s ability to build disciples through intergenerational relationships. The visioning tool uses specific factors to 1) take a picture of a church’s current setting for intergenerational ministry and 2) create a plan for becoming an intergenerational church. It’s a free and downloadable resource that will be a springboard to learn more to become intentionally intergenerational. And we can help you all along the way with training and resources. What do you think?
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