Five Practical Ways to Connect Generations In Your Church

Wanting something and actually having something are two very different things. I talk to a lot of churches that say they want community, even have community listed as a value or written into their mission statement, but when we actually sit down to talk, community is mentioned as something that they feel is missing. Especially when we talk about intentional community that extends across generational boundaries and into meaningful intergenerational connections.

However, a few churches I’ve had the privilege to journey with have implemented some pretty cool initiatives that have helped them to overcome the barriers between the ages and created spaces and contexts for these types of connection and community to exist.

Here are five practical, real-life examples of intentional community-building that can be implemented in churches of any size or generational population; which one is the best fit for your faith community?

“What’s your gift?”

A church that I am currently working with is doing a FABULOUS thing for Valentine’s Day. The pastor has been working on a series about spiritual gifts and as part of that series, the staff has worked to connect some of the oldest members of their congregation with some of the youngest for a video-taped interview where the young will ask the elder to share about their spiritual gift. As a bonus, the staff has prayerfully connected young people with similar giftings in the hopes of sparking an ongoing connection.

Pray For Me 

This continues to be one of my favorite ways to connect generations in the spiritual practice of prayer. Each child/youth is connected with three prayer partners of multiple generations who commit to praying for that child/youth for a period of time, like a school year or a liturgical year. Some churches have used postcards or bookmarks with some information about the child/youth on it and the prayer partner uses that to help them remember to pray.

The book Pray For Me by Tony Souder along with other resources including a special Pray for Me Grandparents book can be found here and to read about one of my personal experiences with Pray for Me, read here.

Service Sunday

When kids and youth are asked to describe their faith, they are far more likely than adults to use action terms rather than theological or “belief” language. For them, faith in action is faith so one of the best ways to help disciple the younger generations is to create space for service, especially serving alongside adults from other generations.

One church I’ve worked with has partnered with a local rescue mission to do everything from bake cookies to share meals to create “welcome home” baskets for newly housed individuals. All of their service projects have a component that allows for young children to older adults to have a way and a place to serve.  Our church has a Service Sunday every fifth Sunday and while we don’t focus on just one local organization, we do rotate through several ministry partners and work to ensure that there is a way for every age to serve.

Storytime

According to developmental theorist, Eric Erikson, older adults thrive when given a place to share their wisdom and life lessons with rising generations. One church decided to make sure that church was the place they could do that. One Sunday a month, the oldest Sunday School class members spread out into the other classes for Storytime and each of them take a few moments to share a personal story with that other class. Sometimes it’s just a story for fun, sometimes it’s a testimony of their Christian experience, and sometimes it’s a life lesson or teaching moment. Regardless, it’s a time that the whole church looks forward to; a special moment to hear from those who have lived rich full lives and are ready to share their experiences with others.

“Play Ball!” 

I’ve shared about this before and I will share it again because I have found this practical but powerful approach to be an incredible way to create community within a congregation. Place a bulletin board in a visible space and ask parents, kids, and youth to post their sports schedules, theater performances, spelling bees, swim meets, and the like on the board. Then, invite the older church members to visit the board and commit to showing up at these events to cheer on the young people and their families.

bout the result. The community grows closer, the families are more connected to the church, and the kids know that they belong to a spiritual family who loves and supports them. For more on one church’s experience, click here.

Any one of the above ideas could be a catalyst to help bring a community of faith closer together. A combination of one or more could begin to shift the culture of the church from one of age segregation to age integration. And implementing three or more could very well create a space for deeper community than perhaps the church has experienced in its memory. Gathering together with the intention of listening, serving, praying, supporting, and affirming one another in our gifts, callings, and state of belonging can only reap benefits of love and joy.

If you would like to begin to explore how your church might move in these directions, reach out using the contact form below for a free initial consult and brainstorming together! It’s time to turn our desire into a realized experience of intentional community and loving God and others together.


If you have ever felt alone in your heart for intergenerational ministry, if you have ever wondered what the next right step is or been curious about how you can best serve your church’s discipleship or mentorship ministry, then a ReFocus Ministry Coaching Cohort might the place for you.

ReFocus Coaching Cohorts provide ministry leaders with the opportunity to expand their leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience. Facilitated by an experienced coach, a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith organizations meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition. Through extensive exploration, inquiry and dialogue, the coach and fellow cohort members help participants identify their role in generational discipleship within their faith community and deepen their leadership capability.

Interested in learning more? Fill out the contact form below or visit us online at refocusministry.org/cohorts.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Culture Not Curriculum: The Heart of Connecting Generations

What is intergenerational ministry?

Sometimes it is easier to describe what something is by exploring what it is not.

Many people associate this term with children’s ministry or family ministry within the church. While those ministries may be partners in intergenerational ministry, the scope of these ministries are not broad enough.

Intergenerational ministry encompasses the whole church, all generations, in a communal and corporate context; It is more of a cultural characteristic of a church than it is a ministry area, a culture that values and creates space for meaningful connections to be made across generational boundaries in a variety of settings for the purpose of generational discipleship, faith formation, and community building. 

Intergenerational ministry is an intentional approach to ministry that both allows for and encourages interaction between multiple generations in such ways as corporate worship, relational mentorship and lifelong community.

In order for a church to recognize the need for this generational connectivity within their faith community, the following question must be answered: What does each generation need from the church and what can each generation contribute to the church? Let’s begin with the latter and the explore the former.

Generational theory, the grouping of individuals into particular social groups with a shared identity predicated on the year of their birth and life experiences, began in the early 20th century and gained steam in the mid to late 20th century as marketing firms began to explore how to best market to specific groups, coining nicknames for them in order to create a collective conscious. (Source)

Currently, the most likely generations that would be found in a given faith community would be the Silent Generation (born 1924-1942), Baby Boomers (1943-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-2000), Gen Z (2001-2010) and Alpha Generation (2011-present). These six generations offer unique experiences in both spiritual and communal practices for the church.

The older generations bring a wealth of faithful testimonies, historical worship practices, and community-sustaining disciplines. The middle generations offer a bridge between past experience and current ones through experience with a vast array of communication tools from rotary phones to high-speed internet conferencing and the latest social media trends. The youngest generations offer the heartbeat of current culture and the application of spiritual truths in a dynamic cultural environment.

Likewise, each generation brings its unique needs to the church.

This chart uses Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial stages to outline these needs in a church setting. The Alpha generation has been omitted at present as more research needs to be done on this emerging generation.

Chart created by Christina Embree, March 2020

But you can see here, the older generations need to be needed; the desire for generativity and legacy-leaving are uniquely found in these generations and to be left isolated from those to whom their legacy can be left (the younger generations) is stifling and leads to stagnation.

The middle generations are those seeking intimacy in deeper relationships with others, such as mentorship and discipleship, but if those opportunities are found lacking, will retreat into a placed of isolation.

The youngest generations are looking for a placed to be industrious (an important part of the community) and find identity (a role to play in the community); thus faith communities need to be intentional not just with providing safe and fun environments like Kid’s Church and youth group but integral participatory environments that allow for identity and industry to be rooted in the church.

When we understand the needs of the individuals in our churches, we can begin to incorporate practices that allow for both needs to be met and gifts to be shared. The ultimate goal? Finding ways for our faith community to connect to one another in meaningful relationships for the purpose of all of us following Jesus better (discipleship).

And that is what intergenerational ministry is.

It’s not a program or a curriculum. It’s a culture defined by community engaged in discipleship and together on mission. And it is what we so desperately need in our churches today.

This article was originally published in full in Shalom! journal, Spring 2020, Vol 40.2


If you have ever felt alone in your heart for intergenerational ministry, if you have ever wondered what the next right step is or been curious about how you can best serve your church’s discipleship or mentorship ministry, then a ReFocus Ministry Coaching Cohort might the place for you.

ReFocus Coaching Cohorts provide ministry leaders with the opportunity to expand their leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience. Facilitated by an experienced coach, a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith organizations meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition. Through extensive exploration, inquiry and dialogue, the coach and fellow cohort members help participants identify their role in generational discipleship within their faith community and deepen their leadership capability.

Interested in learning more? Fill out the contact form below or visit us online at refocusministry.org/cohorts.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

When I was in high school, we used to play a game we called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  Basically, the game was that someone one would say aloud the name of a person or movie and then in six steps or less connect them to Kevin Bacon. For instance, Mission Impossible connects to Tom Cruise who connects to Kevin Bacon in A Few Good Men.

Trust me, it was wildly entertaining to us.

This idea of being connected to someone, even if it is only through a mutual acquaintance, holds meaning for us. We research our family histories, we take DNA tests, we associate ourselves with a heritage or tradition and we connect ourselves to something bigger. And most of us have heard stories from those who have come before us about our ancestors or experiences of connection that our family has had. It helps make up our identity and holds value to us and our experience.

Connectedness is an experience that has been researched by sociologists and developmental psychologists for decades. Research has shown that often the concepts of belonging and identity are directly associated with the sense of connectedness a person has to a group or community. And there is a reason for that – often connectedness is established through story or shared identity and many times that is passed from one generation to the next.

In Erik Erikson’s stages of development, he points to the later stage of life as being a time of Generativity vs. Stagnation. In simple terms, a time of passing on legacy or a time of becoming isolated and alone. Obviously, the latter is preferred to the former in a healthy development. And often this generativity is experienced in intergenerational relationships between young and old.

Last year, some researchers wondered why those conversations were so important so they conducted a study where they intentionally set up some university students with a group of older, aging individuals and encouraged them to have a discussion (Source). Most sat and talked for about 45 minutes and shared a mutual dialogue without prompt or guidance. Afterwards, the researchers coded the recorded conversations and found something very interesting: During the course of the conversation, the elder individuals offered, on average, four life lessons in the form of story to the listening younger generation.

Four life lessons in 45 minutes.

These life lessons came in various forms categorized by the researchers as meaning making, personal growth, emotional valence, wisdom characteristics, life lesson type, and autobiographical memory type. But here’s the important takeaway – connectedness, identity, and healthy development for young and old can be found in conversation with one another.

When we talk about intergenerational ministry and generational discipleship in the church, we are not merely talking about older people and younger people occupying the same space on a Sunday morning.

It’s not just about having a good mix of ages in the room or ensuring that learning and worship opportunities are available to all. Those things are important, yes, but that’s just the salt to the entrée.

The central goal, the real meat of the ministry, is to develop a place of connectedness and identity-forming where communication and conversation inherently leads to mentoring (life lessons) and growth (generativity). It’s about creating space for relationships to form and everyday discipleship to occur.

Four life lessons in 45 minutes.

Could you imagine what could be shared in a faith community if we intentionally and purposefully established time and spaces for our oldest generations to interact with our youngest generations in meaningful times of worship, learning, and serving together?

This is generational discipleship.

It’s not about kids. It’s not about youth. It’s not about adults or senior adults. It’s not about age at all.

It’s about shared story, mutual identity, and simple conversation.

It’s about relationship and connectedness. And ultimately, it’s about being the body of Christ.


ReFocus Coaching Cohorts provide ministry leaders with the opportunity to expand their leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience. Facilitated by an experienced coach, a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith organizations meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition. Through extensive exploration, inquiry and dialogue, the coach and fellow cohort members help participants identify their role in generational discipleship within their faith community and deepen their leadership capability.

For more information, visit us at www.refocusministry.org/cohorts or fill out the contact form below with “Coaching Cohort” as your subject.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and the Importance of Connectedness

You Are Not Alone

It’s the most repeated comment I hear from church leaders when we meet to talk about intergenerational ministry and generational discipleship.

“I’m alone in this. No one else really seems to get it. Everyone just wants to keep things the same. I feel like I’m in uncharted waters all by myself.”

This sense of being alone can feel overwhelming and debilitating. I know, because I’ve been there and I’ve felt exactly that. Even for someone who is fully convinced that it is in the best interest of their church, their youth, their families, and their community to begin to build relationships across generations and create space for times of worship, learning, and living together, the prospect of having to rebuild culture from the ground up can be intimidating.

So, what if we didn’t have to do it alone? What if we could join together with a group of like-minded ministers from around the globe that were journeying together from the beginning to create an intergenerational community of faith in their own churches and cities? What could it look like if everyone was on the same page, moving together, supporting one another, praying for each other, and cheering each other on?

I think it could look amazing. In fact, I think it could be exactly what is needed for so many of us who feel alone.

In February 2022, ReFocus Ministry is launching its inaugural Coaching Cohort, a 12-week program intended to provide ministry leaders with a community of fellow leaders ready to engage intergenerational community and generational discipleship on the next level. These cohorts will offer the opportunity to expand leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience as a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith traditions and church backgrounds. This cohort will meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition.

Obviously, this is not the answer to everything and for everyone…but it might be the answer for you. If you have ever said, “I am alone in this” then it might be time to discover you are not alone.

Since this cohort will be learning, growing, and journeying together, we do have to limit the number of participants for both confidentiality and mutual accountability but we are hoping that this will be the first among many cohorts that will come together and find a true community of fellow ministers who are on the same journey

If you are interested in being part of this inaugural Coaching Cohort, we invite to fill out the contact form below and we will send a follow-up email with application information.

Whether or not this opportunity is the right fit for you at this time, please know this – You are not alone. There is a growing community of ministers who understand that, as was stated in the last post from ReFocus, “We can dissect all the reasons that young people are leaving the church until we are blue in the face. Or we can begin to build relationships and community right now that will ensure deep roots and faith formation that lasts a lifetime.”


ReFocus Coaching Cohort

12 Week Zoom Program (3 months)

Limited to 10 people

Cost: $1000/person (Inaugural Cohort, $750/person, 25% off)

Purpose

ReFocus Coaching Cohorts provide ministry leaders with the opportunity to expand their leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience. Facilitated by an experienced coach, a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith organizations meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition. Through extensive exploration, inquiry and dialogue, the coach and fellow cohort members help participants identify their role in generational discipleship within their faith community and deepen their leadership capability.

Benefits

  • Accountability and growth within a community of like-minded ministers
  • Access to resources available only to cohort members, including up to one year of monthly personal coaching
  • Coachable moments and collective learning within the group that can be addressed by both the coach and the other members.
  • Ability to participate in ReFocus presenter platform as a local ReFocus representative.

ReFocus cohorts provide a confidential, open environment for ministers to strengthen their effectiveness in ‘real-time’ situations. It is intended for people who have experience in ministry and are ready to build the skills needed to be leaders in generational discipleship and intergenerational ministry.

Included in Coaching Cohort Package

  • Twelve weekly trainings/Zoom calls with coach.
  • Choice of 1 webinar with resources for church/congregation (for use within one year of cohort start).
  • Family Faith Formation TALK TOOLS curriculum (Digital download available after first 12 weeks).
  • One year of monthly, 30-minute, one-on-one coaching conversations.
  • Access to private Facebook group for cohort members only.
  • Lifetime 10% discount on all ReFocus seminars, workshops, webinars, and/or coaching packages

For more information or to apply as a participant in our Spring 2022 cohort, visit our website at https://refocusministry.org/webinars-workshops/refocus-coaching-cohorts/



For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

New Beginnings: A Story of Reimagining Church Together

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear a story from a church that captures the heart of ReFocus Ministry and I just had to share it with you.  Like many churches in 2020, this church had struggled to regain a sense of community and were feeling the impact of generational gap in tangible ways. Young people were not returning. Older people were isolated. Everyone was feeling the strain of separation.

Upon contacting ReFocus Ministry and beginning the coaching program, it became obvious that there were quite a few barriers integrated into their church culture that kept the generations from forming relationships with one another. They decided to focus on one area in particular: Extracurricular activities. That’s right – sports and drama and spelling bees and choir performances and tee ball tournaments. You see, they discovered that many of their children and youth were involved in these things and that they and their parents faithfully showed up at these events and this church decided, it was high time they showed up there too.

They placed a bulletin board in a main gathering area and invited parents and kids to post schedules of their upcoming events. And then, the older Sunday School classes committed to visiting that bulletin board and taking turns amongst the members committing to showing up in these spaces.

It was a rocky start. New things often are. However, it didn’t take long as the weather warmed up and people could get outside and into bleachers and stadiums for the movement to gain momentum.

By the end of summer, this church could be found all over town at ball games and ballet recitals, cheering on their kids and youth, sitting in the bleachers with parents, and even running concession stands a local softball games.

By fall, the church was abuzz with activity and connection. People spoke one’s another’s names. They greeted each other in the hallways and high-fived over home runs and scored goals. They commiserated over losses and shared stories of “When I was a kid…”. Family Sundays were no longer an exercise in tolerating the presence of kids; instead, kids were invited to sit with their cheerleaders and their biggest fans -the older members of their church.

The result? Relationships.

The bigger result? Everyday discipleship in the context of community.

This is what ReFocus is all about. Our mission statement says we exist to “connect generations at church and at home.”  But that is not the end goal. The end goal is to create a community characterized by relationships centered around Christ for the glory of God.

We can dissect all the reasons that young people are leaving the church until we are blue in the face. Or we can begin to build relationships and community right now that will ensure deep roots and faith formation that lasts a lifetime.

As we move into the new year, let’s reimagine what church together can look like. Let’s identify the barriers that keep us apart and inhibit generational discipleship and let’s embrace the beautiful invitation to worship and work as a community of faith, all ages, all stages, as one body.


An Invitation to Join the Mission of ReFocus

In November, we announced that ReFocus was beginning the journey to become a full-fledged nonprofit. As we work to take ReFocus from an individual operation to one that can make a bigger impact in our faith communities, we are beginning the work of funding the ministry.

To that end, we invite you to be a part of our initial fundraising campaign. In our initial phase, we are hoping to raise $10,000.00 which will be used to create the foundation and infrastructure needed to begin expanding the reach and ministry of ReFocus. These monies will go directly to creating the means by which to allow ReFocus to create more resources, materials, and trainings for churches as well as begin to put the pieces in place to add additional speakers, trainers, and ministers to our staff. We have already raised $6,000 towards our inital goal!

There are two main ways to give:

  1. Through our website: www.refocusministry.org (Click the Donate button). This will allow you to set up a one-time donation or a monthly gift.
  2. Personal Check:  ReFocus Ministry c/o Christina Embree, 3518 Ramsgate Ct. Lexington KY 40503

Note: Since we have not yet received our tax-exempt status due to paperwork delays at the federal level, these initial gifts will not be tax deductible.

At ReFocus, we believe if we really want to see our church families grow and our younger generations stay faithful to Jesus, we are going to have to find ways to come together, in community, and be the church across generations.

To learn more about ReFocus and what we can do for you and your faith community, fill out the contact form below!


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

All the Reasons Why Kids Shouldn’t Go to Church

Tis the Season for Christmas Family Services; that joyous time of year where children are allowed to go to church.

“Whew… coming on a little strong, aren’t you, Christina?”

Perhaps…but lately I’ve seen a significant number of posts and comments that are encouraging that children be invited into the Sunday morning service for Christmas activities but making it clear that children are only welcome in that space on special occasions. In fact, often listed out in the comments or even in the post itself are a list of reasons why children shouldn’t be included in normal worship times but should be there on special occasions like Christmas.

So let’s unpack these a little bit. What are all the reasons why children, adolescents, and youth shouldn’t attend worship on regular Sunday morning worship times?

  1. Children should be able to worship in an age-appropriate space and Sunday mornings are geared toward ADULTS
  2. Children need to have fun at church so that they have good experiences and keep wanting to come even when they are older and go to the ADULT service.
  3. Children are a distraction from ADULTS in worship service.
  4. Children have certain developmental abilities and needs that can’t be met in a the ADULT service.

Actually, I almost agree with all of these things. It is hard for children to be included in a space that is specifically and intentionally designed only for adults.

I just don’t think Sunday morning should be that place.

Church is the place where the community of faith gathers together for the purpose of worship, service, Scripture, and support. The Church is the body of Christ and includes all people who follow Jesus and desire to be his disciple (no age or development restriction applied). The Church is a diverse body where each part makes up the whole and finds its identity in Jesus. The gathered community is a place where all should find space to participate and grow as members of that body.

Since when did our time of worship on Sunday morning of all times become a place that is only available to adults?

Who decided that the MAIN time of our gathering, the central moment for most worshipping communities to gather together, would be specifically and intentionally designed for only one age group?

Why did that sacred time of communal worship and congregational togetherness become a place that was “geared to adults”, the “adult service”, and where children are deemed a distraction?

To be clear, as I always state in my blogs, I am NOT opposed to age-sensitive spaces for both learning and worship BUT if we consistently gather as a community together as the church and insist that our central time of gathering is for adults-only and gear all of our energy towards one age group… how can we be suprised when they one we haven’t invited into that space, leaves?

“But what about kids church?”

What about it? There’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with kids church. But pulling kids OUT of the central place of worship with their worshipping community on a consistent basis is also pulling them out of the place of relationship-building, name-saying, communal-praying, and gift-giving. Kid’s Church might teach the how to sing songs and memorize verses but it cannot teach children to be a part of a multigenerational body, an intergenerational community, building the means to establish lifelong bonds of generational discipleship.

In fact, if it serves to replace the larger gathered time of worship, it can do the exact opposite. It can create divisions and gaps in relationships that segregate and separate generations.

All the reasons children shouldn’t go to church can be narrowed down to one:

We don’t want them there.

We don’t want to create a worship service that intentionally and specifically incorporates every generation every single Sunday. We want an adult worship space sans distraction. We want a space that is exclusively an adult worship service and we want that space to be Sunday morning.

We don’t want Sunday morning to be a time where all ages can gather to worship. We don’t want to create age-specific ministries geared at specific ages during other times of the week. We are content to cater to adults on Sunday morning, pull children and youth away for their own age-appropriate ministries, and rarely if ever create space for worshiping communities to gather across generations to learn, love, and live together.

It takes work. As evidenced by the posts and comments on all the ways to make the Christmas services “kid-friendly.”

It requires grace as mentioned by commenters that have to ask adults to offer grace to the kids and parents “just this once.”

It requires humility, understanding that when Jesus said we could learn from children, it wasn’t metaphoric and we need to be in spaces where we can learn from them.

It requires leaving behind a mindset we may have always known that says children have their place and we have ours and we don’t belong in worshiping spaces together.

If children aren’t in our worship services on a consistent basis, there is only one reason why they are not there. We, the adults, don’t want them there. And that’s where we need to start. When Sunday morning stops being an adult service, it starts being a place for the church to gather together, children and youth, young adults and senior adults, all generations together – the body of Christ.




Is Your Church READY to Gather Together?

Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?  

Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.  

Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.

Options to choose from for these presentations include:

  1. Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
  2. A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
  3. A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
  4. A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
  5. OTHER We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs

Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.




For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Is “Adventing” a Word? It should be

What is Advent?

If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that Advent is probably my favorite celebration of the year. Not Christmas necessarily, but Advent, the time leading up to Christmas. The anticipation of Christ’s arrival. The celebration of Hope, Peace, Joy and ultimate Love.

A few years ago, I asked a group of elementary-aged children this question.  Keep in mind that these children have been “raised” in church so the terminology of “advent” was not unfamiliar to them.  But the answers… oh, the answers… seriously, one of the reasons I love working with kids.

Advent is…

… when you can’t find the angel for the top of tree and you look all over the house for it

… a fun trip into the jungle (I think he though I meant “adventure”)

… when you light candles on the tree branches that fall off the tree (think Advent wreath)

… that thing you use to light Christmas lights

… the songs you sing at Christmas time

Admittedly there were some closer guesses, “countdown to Christmas” being the most popular one, but in reality, most of the kids had no idea about the heart and the wonder behind the season of Advent.

And that got me thinking?  Why?  I know for a fact that Advent has always been celebrated at this church.  Every year on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, candles had been lit and Hope, Peace, Joy and Love talked about.  Liturgical Scriptures were read and Advent vespers services were held.  But somehow, the whole meaning behind the celebration of Advent was missed by the children.

So the question is, how much of what we do on Sunday still has meaning for us on Monday?

You see, lighting the candle of Joy this past Sunday doesn’t mean a whole lot to me or you (or to our kids) if we don’t talk about that joy, contemplate that joy, and celebrate that joy for the rest of the week.

Reading beautiful Scriptures of God’s promises and love for us doesn’t mean a whole lot if it stays inside the church walls and never makes it to our dinner table, our car ride, our community, and our job.

Singing a few hymns about Christmas won’t impact our lives until we consider the words and use them to praise God on our recliner at home as much as we do our pew at church.

The reality is, if we are “doing” something at church and not “doing” that same thing the rest of the week, we are compartmentalizing our faith to a building instead of incorporating our faith into transformed lives.

We don’t have to literally light an Advent candle every night but if we want our children to know about the Hope of Christ, we need to talk about it every day.

And it’s fine and even fun to sing Christmas carols in the car but we also need to model a life of worship everywhere we go.

We don’t necessarily have to read Scripture aloud in front of our family but Scripture needs to be a part of our everyday conversations with our kids.

I once asked a similar group of kids what church was.  My answers ranged from “A building we go to on Sunday” to “Where God lives.”  I know these are kids and “kids say the darndest things” but let’s be real for a minute.

If we live lives that say “Church is a building we go to on Sunday because God is there” how else are our children to interpret our faith?   What if instead we told our kids, “Church is the family of God and He is always with us so we are always in church?”  Not with those words, but with our lives.

Spontaneous worship.  Times of prayer.  Lighting of candles. Corporate worship.  Waiting expectantly in hope for the arrival of Christ. “Adventing”

These things don’t need to be limited to a place, a time, a special moment.  These things can be lived all year long and our lives can be a living testimony to a vibrant, growing faith.

Want some ideas on how to bring Advent home in simple, practical ways? Click here!

Worried you can’t do it all?  That’s okay!  Click here.




Is Your Church READY to Gather Together?

Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?  

Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.  

Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.

Options to choose from for these presentations include:

  1. Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
  2. A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
  3. A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
  4. A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
  5. OTHER We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs

Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.





For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

We’re Asking The Wrong Question

What’s up with “church”?

I’m asking that sincerely. I recently read a discussion online that asked the question, “Why do we have kid’s church?” The answer, which I have paraphrased below, left me very uneasy. But it also made me ask a different question – Why do we have church? Like, not, what is the church or but more, what is the purpose in gathering together as a community on a regular basis?

The question of “Why do we have kid’s church?” was answered in the discussion in this way (paraphrased in my words): The reason we have kid’s church is so that kids can learn in a context that is age-appropriate, It’s fine for kids to visit the larger church with adults perhaps once a month or during certain seasons but if they are going to learn, it needs to be in spaces curated for them. After all, this is why preschools and elementary schools exist and we don’t send kids directly to college.

With all due respect, I have to say that I disagree with this general framework for answering this question. Actually I disagree with the basic assumptions and ideas that are often (not always) inherent in this approach.

If the purpose of church was simply to educate people on what it means to be a Christian and to understand biblical concepts, theology, and literature, then yes, this approach would be appropriate. But church isn’t school. Not even Sunday School (which was actually school when it started but I digress).

Church isn’t a place designed primarily to teach or to educate. While we do learn at church, learning isn’t the purpose of the church. The church finds its identity, its DNA, in being the body of Jesus Christ. We gather in community not merely to learn but to serve, to worship, to experience the mystery that is the Trinity and the family that is the body of Christ.

We would never deny the youngest children in our families from participating in family traditions and activities because they didn’t understand them; rather, we would come alongside them, teach them, invite them in, and wrap them in our stories, our experiences, and our love.

Visiting an “adult service” on 5th Sundays or in the summer does not invite a sense of community or of collective understanding of our mission as the whole body of Christ to serve, lead, and love together. It creates a tourist mentality where you are not really a part of what is happening but you are allowed access as an outsider looking in. It doesn’t foster relationships, it doesn’t bring about nurture, and it inhibits lifelong generational discipleship.

To be clear, I am not opposed age-sensitive spaces and contexts BUT if we limit church to these experiences or major on them as our primary means of gathering to the exclusion of or limitation to gathering across generations in common spaces, we are doing ourselves and our children a disservice. Cognitive development is so much more than the acquisition of knowledge; it is imitation, it is relationship, it is development of habits and patterns by being in proximity to that which we desire to grow.

Simply put, the answer to this question our framework has to be bigger than an either/or. It’s even bigger than a both/and. The answer is to develop a culture that reflects that church is so much more than a place of learning. It’s a place of being, a place of belonging, a place of worship and mystery, of serving and loving, a place of all ages and all developmental stages and abilities, that find commonality and grace together in being members of one body whose Head is Jesus.

It’s not school. And it’s not the home (family).

It’s something entirely other – it’s Jesus.

So if we are accustomed to being in a space that has primarily children in it (Kid’s Church) or a space that has primarily adults in it (Big Church), we must ensure there is a space that has everyone welcomed in it so that we know more than just concepts – we know Jesus, as lived out in one another, big and small.




Is Your Church READY to Gather Together?

Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?  

Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.  

Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.

Options to choose from for these presentations include:

  1. Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
  2. A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
  3. A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
  4. A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
  5. OTHER We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs

Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.




For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

We Need One Another

Dear Friend,

2020 changed everything. We have all experienced its lasting impact. Words like “unprecedented” and “new normal” became so common, they lost their clout. 

But one thing became crystal clear: We need one another.

The need for genuine, intentional community, especially in our churches and homes, became boldly apparent.

Over the past year, more and more churches have reached out to ReFocus Ministry to help them re-gather in a way that is intentionally intergenerational and courageously communal. In light of this need, ReFocus has made the decision to transition to a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry focused on journeying with churches and homes into connection and community.

Today is Giving Tuesday and while we officially began our fundraising effort last week, we want to expand the opportunity to give to our entire blog base. As we work to take ReFocus from an individual operation to one that can make a bigger impact in our faith communities, we are beginning the work of funding the ministry.

In this first phase, we are hoping to raise $10,000.00 which will be used to create the foundation and infrastructure needed to begin expanding the reach and ministry of ReFocus. These monies will go directly to creating the means by which to allow ReFocus to create more resources, materials, and trainings for churches as well as begin to put the pieces in place to add additional speakers, trainers, and ministers to our staff. 

We have already raised $2,000 before we could send this letter to you!

There are two main ways to give:

  • Through our website: refocusministry.org (Click the Donate button). This will allow you to set up a one-time donation or a monthly gift. 
  • Personal Check:  ReFocus Ministry c/o Christina Embree, 3518 Ramsgate Ct. Lexington KY 40503Donate Online

Since we have not yet received our tax-exempt status, these initial gifts may not be tax deductible. We anticipate receiving our tax exemption by the end of this year and a receipt for your donation will be sent to you. 

At ReFocus, we believe if we really want to see our church families grow and our younger generations stay faithful to Jesus, we are going to have to find ways to come together, in community, and be the church across generations. 

Thank you! Thank you for your contribution to this work! We are excited to partner with you.

Sincerely,

The ReFocus Board of Directors


Christina Embree, Founder & President
Sarah Flannery, Board Chair
Matthew DePrez, Treasurer
Krista Dutt, Recorder
Brett Meyer, Development




Is Your Church READY to Gather Together?

Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?  

Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.  

Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.

Options to choose from for these presentations include:

  1. Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
  2. A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
  3. A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
  4. A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
  5. OTHER We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs

Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.




For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

This is Generational Discipleship

The other day, a friend of mine from church came over to my house to make charcuterie boards with me. If you know me, you know that making these fancy meat-and-cheese boards is one of my favorite things to do and she had seen one that I made and asked if we could make one together. We had a fabulous time. We talked, we snacked, we created, and we got to share our creations with our Home Church that met the next day.

My friend is ten years old and this is generational discipleship.

Last Saturday, a friend of my son Caleb (10) had another friend drop by and this friend Rusty (30-something) brought him a gift; three giant-sized collectible cards! These things were enormous. Another little guy (6) happened to be there and was sad that he didn’t get a card so Caleb went into his room, searched his stash, and found a special card to give to this friend.

This is generational discipleship.

My middle child asked me to go see a musical the other day with her and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend. No problem; she picked up the phone and called MY best friend and asked her to go with her instead.

This is generational discipleship.

Sometimes I think we get in our head that generational discipleship has to look like a Sunday school classroom or serious discussions over coffee or a directed study program around Scripture. But let’s talk about what happened in the examples given above.

During my time making charcuterie with my friend, we talked about all kinds of things from the mundane to the spiritual. She asked a lot of really great questions and offered plenty of her own insightful observations regarding God, the world, family, love, and friendship. Her brother also happened to be over our house hanging out with my son and when I drove them both home, we got into a rather intense discussion about what it means to share the gospel with other people. Both of them offered such thoughtful discussion and we had a wonderful time talking about Jesus together.

This is generational discipleship.


After Rusty gave Caleb his gift and the other little guy was sad he didn’t get one, Caleb considered the gift that Rusty had given him and decided to give to his little friend as well. The example of joyful generosity that was offered to Caleb was imitated by Caleb because of the grace and love in which it was given.

This is generational discipleship.

My friend could not attend the show with Naomi (I was able to attend after all) but my daughter told me that my friend was on her “close contacts” list and she’d be friends with her even I wasn’t because “Heather knows how to be a good friend.”

Friends, this is generational discipleship.

This is what we mean when we say to build relationships not programs. This is what we mean when we say each child/youth should have five adults that they are in relationship with that they know love and care about them. This is what we mean when we say there has to be space for generations to interact together outside of pre-scripted “church” times and regulated meetings.

Because generational discipleship happens in kitchens and cars, in shared hobbies and generous giving, in watching friendships between healthy adults and learning how to love, listen, give, and receive.

It happens because we are more than a group of people who meet on Sunday morning and maybe pass each other in the halls.

It happens because we’ve established relationships built on everyday moments that instill trust, promote life, and lead to Jesus.

Any one of these moments could not stand alone. Relationships were built beforehand that allowed for these discipleship moments to occur.

Relationships. Across generations. Connected to Jesus.

That’s it. That is what we need.

If church has one discipleship goal for next year and you aren’t already encouraging this, creating space for this, or cultivating a culture for this…. Make it this. Make this your goal.

This is generational discipleship.


Is Your Church READY to Gather Together?

Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?  

Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.  

Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.

Options to choose from for these presentations include:

  1. Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
  2. A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
  3. A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
  4. A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
  5. OTHER We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs

Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.