On a recent visit to the playground, my 3-year-old granddaughter was delighted to see a big wooden climbing structure. She decided it was her ice cream shop. It has a long ramp to get to the top and she loved running up and setting up her “store” on the platform.
“What flavor of ice cream is your favorite?” (mint chocolate chip)
“Pay me your money, please!” (an imaginary coin is slapped into her hand)
“Would you like some water, too?” (of course)
And then it was time for her to come down. She could have run back down the ramp. She eyed the big slide, and then the ramp, and then the slide. I could see her mind whirling over the choices, weighing the potential risks and joy. For her, the safest way down was the ramp. But Nana was waiting to catch her at the bottom of the long slide. And it was a slide! Once she started, the momentum would carry her the rest of the way. She chose the slide.
Can you see where I’m going with this? It’s kind of like a church experimenting with being more intentionally intergenerational. At some point, it’s the right time to launch. Even if there’s some risk. But oh the joy!
Most churches are multigenerational. With intentionality, any church can become intergenerational. The intergenerational church thrives with an emphasis on relationships, moving beyond the goal of just everyone in the same room at the same time.
What is intergenerational ministry? GenOn Ministries defines it as nurturing Christ-centered community by bringing together two or more generations in planned and purposeful settings, where all are mutually invested.
At GenOn, we recommend a simple and foundational six-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational. A series of articles explores each step. We began with Discover, then Evaluate, then Learn, and Pilot, and now Launch.
Step 5: Launch regular intergenerational gatherings.
You’ve held your pilot intergenerational event to test the waters and gain excitement among your congregation. Are you ready to move beyond your pilot? If so, then it’s time to LAUNCH! “Launch” suggests movement, something that feels dynamic and mobile. Check out your journey map (from Step 4) which should include collecting feedback from those who attended your pilot event. You’ve developed (and maybe tweaked) your timeline and defined needed leadership roles for ongoing, regular, intergenerational gatherings. You get to define what “regular” means for your community. Quarterly? Seasonally? Weekly? Every fifth Sunday? How can you be more intentionally multigenerational in inviting people to participate? What generations are still needed on your planning team?
Spend time communicating your launch plans with your congregation—sharing the “what” and “when” and also the “why.” Prepare them for changes or newness that you’re inviting them to experience. Enlist a team to pray for fruitful gatherings that are planned and purposeful -- with mutual investment. This brings God into your planning. And then launch!
Resources for regular intergenerational gatherings:
God's World in Community
All God's Children: The Church Family Gathers
Are you ready to start on this rewarding and intentional six-step path? We’d love to walk alongside you and your team! We are great encouragers and supporters. Fill out our Intergenerational Ministry Interest form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch with ideas to support your planning.
Also in October 2023 IG Mix: GenOn Youth Summit returns with churches from five denominations