In “A Vision of an Intergenerational Church” chapter from Generations Together, John Roberto writes about 14 benefits and blessings for living as an intentional intergenerational community. I can say that I have experienced all of them in my own church, and I’m sure many of you would say the same thing. Here are some snapshots from Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Maryland:
Intergenerational experiences affirm each person’s value in the total community (regardless of age), teaching younger generations to value the older generations and the older the younger generations: The best high school Sunday school class I ever held was when I invited three 80+ year old adults from our congregation to serve as a panel. Our class reviewed appropriate and respectful questions ahead of time (about growing up, school experiences, early church life, family, jobs). One of the panelists shared stories about serving in WWII and seeing his brother while overseas. He cried as he described the situation. A surprise question came from one of the high schoolers with the most doubts about faith. He asked if any of our guests had ever “lost” their faith. The answers included stories of doubt and bumps in the road but always coming back to God. Mutual respect and value were palatable in the room that morning.
Intergenerational experiences support families by surrounding them with a community of faith and providing parents with opportunities to learn from Christians who have raised faithful children: I love seeing parent-to-parent relationships develop at LOGOS in the informal times, especially conversations in the kitchen and at the “communication station” when adults are relaxing. What a gift it is for parents to have time to vent and hear a healthy perspective—particularly with parents who are older and have already weathered some of the storms. I experienced many such safe conversations at LOGOS when raising my own sons.
Intergenerational experiences create and strengthen relationships among people of all ages and enhance their sense of belonging in the faith community: Witnessing loving relationships in the between-ministry time is the true barometer that the intergenerational community has taken root in the church. When I see children in worship or fellowship time who are comfortable with friends ranging from teens to older folks, it’s become a natural thing—embedded culturally with all ages feeling a part of the community.
How have you seen intergenerational community come to life in your own church? We would love to hear! Please share below.
Other GenOn Connect March-April 2019 articles