Connect with teens over coffee.
Provide physical labour.
Cheer for each other at a sporting events and musical performances.
Those are just some of the ways that members of a socio-economically and experientially diverse intergenerational small group in Michigan did life together.
Like many small groups, the makeup of this group has changed over time but at one point it included a retired couple in their 70’s, adults in their 30’s- 40’s, babies, school aged kids and teens. They gathered twice monthly for snacks or a simple meal, conversation, prayer and an adult study time (during which the kids played together.) Depending on the makeup of the group and their needs at the time members studied books together on what it means to live out their Christian faith and/or simply read Scripture and considered what God might be saying to them. (The current iteration of this group is being challenged as they journey with the book "Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community.)
Meeting with such a diverse group can lead to questions about the best ways to be inclusive to all. Questions this group wrestled with include: How can we meet the spiritual needs of each person no matter where they are on a their faith journey? Are there better ways to include the children and teens? How can we make time to hear and support each other through challenges both big and small?
Resting in the messiness of what it means to be a diverse intergenerational small group, the members agree that above anything else what they share is a common desire to help and challenge each other to live their life of faith, supporting one another and holding each other accountable in their walk. As a group they recognize the value of being what member Joyce Borger describes as “[...] a community within the church, people you can call on when in need.”
The blessings of being that “community within the church” are great. For the children and teens it means they have another place where they are loved and where adults know them at a level beyond their name. For the adults it means getting to learn from others in different places on their faith journey as stories are told, life is shared and relationships are deepened. Joyce says, “It would be easier and maybe I would even learn more intellectually if I was part of a group that was closer to me demographically. But, I don't think I would grow as much spiritually. It is hard work but the relationships that I have even with those who are no longer a part of our group is worth it.”