Look around. Are there two or more generations in your congregation? Congratulations—you’re an intergenerational family! (If you are a one-generation church, look around again—this time around your community. With whom might you partner locally to connect with another generation?)
Look in. Just as it’s possible for a family or roommates to share a dwelling but never actually interact in meaningful ways with one another, it’s possible for a multigenerational church family to learn, serve, and worship together without developing meaningful relationships with one another. Becoming an intergenerational church requires intentionality. It involves cultivating a church culture in which faith is nurtured and relationships are fostered as all ages learn and grow, serve, and worship together.
Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton Ross describe an intentionally intergenerational community this way: Truly intergenerational communities welcome children, emerging adults, recovering addicts, single adults, widows, single parents, teens whose parents are not around, the elderly, those in crisis, empty nesters and struggling parents of young children into a safe but challenging place to be formed into the image of Christ.
At what times and places do two or more generations from your church family already gather together? How might you be more intentional about providing opportunities to interact with each other in ways that build relationships and nurture faith?
What small steps might you take toward trying something new?
How might you cast a vision within your church for becoming even more intentional about fostering intergenerational faith-building relationships among church family members as you learn and grow, serve, and worship together?
The following resources have been selected to support you in doing all of the above.
“Victor Becomes a Braverman,” from the TV series Parenthood, Season 5 (available from iTunes), provides a beautiful illustration of belonging and being adopted into an intergenerational family. It could also be used to illustrate the promises we make as an intergenerational family at baptism.
Jonah and Bob is a heartwarming story about an intergenerational friendship.