At every baptism we vow to love, pray for, instruct, encourage, and sustain another member of our church family. But it takes more than just worshiping together to complete this checklist of baptismal vows. Fulfilling these vows requires relationships. Fulfilling these vows requires us to put ourselves in a position where we can know and be known by the children and youth of [our church].
In this section you’ll find information and ideas for building on what your congregation is already doing to provide opportunities for people of all ages to “know and be known” by each other, both in small group gatherings and large group settings.
Beautifully chaotic. Simple and sweet. Profoundly moving. When we asked people to describe their intergenerational small groups, these were the phrases they used again and again. Here’s what else they said:
“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.”
“We see [our children] expressing their faith more openly and honestly and also growing as leaders and disciples of Christ.”
“Even the teens come when they aren't busy doing other things because they know it’s a place where they are loved.”
“We have openly struggled with our faith and testified to God's faithfulness in our lives. This group has been an incredible gift to me.”
Christian faith-based intergenerational small groups are as unique as the people who form them and who are formed within them. But what they have in common is a desire to be God’s family to and with each other. Many also include the following during their time together:
a meal or simple refreshments
icebreakers (lighthearted questions that all ages can answer)
music (adults, teens, children may take turns leading and/or selecting songs)
Scripture reading or a Bible story (perhaps using a children’s Bible storybook)
discussion/conversation (for which the children may or may not be present)
prayer (which often includes praying for each other)
Wondering what an intergenerational small group could look like? Meet eight of them here:
Faith5 is a simple five- step family devotional guide that can easily be adapted for intergenerational small group use. One small group member told us that the “sharing highs and lows” part of Faith5 has been particularly meaningful in their group when children and teens are present, especially at their Christmas gathering when they use it to reflect on the past year.
Church picnics and potlucks. Funerals and weddings. Mid-week ministry programs and worship. These are examples of events in the life of a congregation at which two or more generations gather. In each of these events there are opportunities, both planned and unplanned, for building relationships and nurturing faith.
In this section you’ll find resources you can use to build your own intergenerational large group experiences, including free intergenerational events on the Lord’s Prayer and the Lord’s Supper. You’ll also find stories about the ways in which CRC churches are being intentional about large group learning and growing across generations. We hope their ideas inspire you as they have inspired us.
In addition to describing the benefits of intergenerational learning, the online resource Faith Formation Across the Generations includes a list of eight practical ways to integrate intergenerational learning into what your congregation is already doing.
Messy Church is a form of intergenerational church (especially for those who don’t already belong to another form of church) that involves “creativity, celebration, and hospitality.” Learn more in the video Introducing Messy Church.
At Abundant Grace Dinner Church an intergenerational meal is integrated with a time of worship. At Destination Church in St. Thomas, Ontario, community members gather for a weekly Stone Soup potluck dinner. People are invited to bring an ingredient of their choosing with them and together the group makes a meal.