Buzz Words Aren’t The Problem

I was recently part of an online discussion where the original poster expressed his concerns about a newly released curriculum using, in his words, “woke” terminology in its description. The particular words in question were the words “identity” and “curiosity.” The concern expressed was that these words were an attempt to be relevant to the culture and, regardless of the content in the curriculum which he repeatedly stated he felt was “fine”, the use of this terminology meant he “would never get near” this particular product.

As you an imagine, the discussion to follow was passionate and intense. For the most part, I watched what was taking place with a measure of frustration and disappointment. Whether or not one agreed with the original poster, the tone of the conversation was (initially) judgmental, condemning, and fear-based. And despite assurances and affirmation that the content of the curriculum as biblically-based and Christ-centered, the choice of these two words was enough to warrant the energy and passion put into the discussion about how this would impact children’s church experience and their faith.

Which brings me to the research:

Why do young people actually walk away from the faith?

Why do they leave children’s ministry and youth ministry with an immature faith or lacking a sense of belonging to their church? Why do they disassociate with the church and distance themselves from evangelical religious experiences?

Is it because the curriculum used buzz words? Is it because their youth pastor was too relevant or their children’s pastor was “woke”?

In short – No. That is not why they leave. Why they leave has a lot more to do with us – the people of God – than it does the buzz words and latest trends that come and go in culture. It has to do with our attitudes, our behavior, and our interactions with one another and the world around us.

  • Seventy-three percent said church or pastor-related reasons led them to leave. Of those, 32 percent said church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical and 29 percent said they did not feel connected to others who attended. 
  • Seventy percent named religious, ethical or political beliefs for dropping out. Of those, 25 percent said they disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues while 22 percent said they were only attending to please someone else. 
  • And, 63 percent said student and youth ministry reasons contributed to their decision not to go. Of those, 23 percent said they never connected with students in student ministry and 20 percent said the students seemed judgmental or hypocritical.   (Source)

More telling than that, of the 66 percent who said they left picked reasons for leaving, only 10 percent said they dropped out because they stopped believing in God. Their belief in God was not the issue. It was their experience in churches and denominational interpretations of Scripture that they disagreed with that led them to leave.

Over one-third of young adults have said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23 percent said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith (Source). And no one to talk to about it. No one to normalize the reality that faith is.. well, faith. That it all comes down to belief and we can never 100% know everything while we are here on earth. That we will know fully as we are fully known only once we are with Christ. And until then, we will ask a lot of questions, express a lot of doubts, learn a lot of new things, and likely, our own beliefs about truth and God and faith will change and grow as we do.

Not one of these studies showed that young people left the faith because their Sunday school curriculum used buzz words or connected too closely to the culture. It was about the people, the relationships or lack thereof, the attitudes or experiences, that formed and shaped them, from children to student through young adult.

Conversely, why do young people chose to stay in the faith? These studies are my favorite because instead of a list of “Don’t Do’s” we get actionable, meaningful things “To Do” that will yield the fruit of lifelong disciples who want to love and follow Jesus. And what does that research show us?

The Sticky Faith group at Fuller Youth Institute have studied the reasons young people stay in church, looking for a “silver bullet” for churches and parents to use to keep that from happening.  While there was no “silver bullet” churches that encouraged intergenerational connections and worship and youth that felt involved and connected to the larger church had a much greater chance of remaining in church post high school. (The findings can be found here). 

In this article, researcher Dr. Kara Powell clearly demonstrates the need for and support of corporate worship, stating ” Of the many youth group participation variables we examined, involvement in intergenerational worship and relationships had one of the most robust correlations with faith maturity.

Most recently, Awana partnered with Barna group to look at the resiliency of youth in church post-graduation. They discovered that when kids have a meaningful relationship with an adult in the church, they are twice as likely to have an ongoing relationship with the church and three times more likely to be engaged in Scripture including understanding the metanarrative of Scripture and integrating biblical principles in their life. The conclusion drawn by the researchers at Barna Group?  “The meaningful relationships individuals have as children fundamentally influence the stability of their future faith.” (Source).

Every single one of these things has to do with relationship, with people, with us.

Do quality materials matter? Sure, I wouldn’t recommend just grabbing any old curriculum off the shelf. But do the materials we use have a tremendous influence on the kids who attend our Sunday school for one hour each week if we are lucky? Eh, probably not as much as our relationship with them, our modeling of Christ character of humility and grace, and our intentional decision to make space for them to wonder, question, doubt, and be curious as they find their own identity in Christ.

Buzz words come and go as quickly as a Snapchat picture or a TikTok trend. What we do, who we are, and how we love will stand the test of time. Let’s major on the majors and minor on the minors. Let’s put our energy into that space, encouraging one another all the more as we see the day drawing near, lifting up not tearing down our fellow ministers and parents, and being a community of faith that our young people will find hope, safety, and Christ-centered relationships in.


Are You Ready to Connect Generations?

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 founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Deconstruction & Social Media in the Age of Covid

NOTE: This blog post is a slight deviation from my normal content and is based on an article written for a journal; as such, it doesn’t carry the same tone and length as most of my blog posts in this space. However, I felt the subject area was directly connected to the realities of ministering across generations and specifically to the youngest generations and a needed foundation for ongoing conversations on generational discipleship. I invite you to take some time, read this revised article, and consider how the information contained here might impact your own life and ministry.


“I don’t believe in God anymore.”

“I don’t know if I believe in God anymore.”

“I don’t know what I believe about God anymore.”

Over the past two years, I’ve heard these phrases more times than I can remember. I am hearing them all over social media, in magazine articles, blog posts, radio programs, podcasts, and sermons. While these statements are all nuanced with very different things being said, most of the time, every one of these labeled under one broad, sweeping term: Deconstruction.

Deconstruction appears to have taken mainstage as a “buzz word” or movement within the Christian and ex-Christian community. A significant uptick in attention to deconstruction coincided with the beginning of a global pandemic that moved many people from in-person community and into a much wider virtual community found in online communities such as TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch. Younger people (Millennial and Gen Z generations) quickly adapted to this form of communication, finding solace in a global community that “gets” them. Those who are deconstructing from their faith have used the platform to process, protest, and project their experiences into a wide audience, gaining traction among those who already felt frustrated and disenfranchised by the evangelical church.

The History of Deconstruction

While deconstruction has become a rather familiar term in evangelical circles of late, the concept of deconstruction has been around for centuries. Modern evangelical deconstruction centers around one’s faith in God and in the beliefs one holds about God. However, the term “deconstruction” did not initially refer to a theological context but rather a philosophical one. Coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the concept of deconstruction referred primarily to questioning the conceptional frameworks of Western philosophy including social sciences, humanities and literature.1

By the late 1980s and into the nineties, we see the term applied to “the philosophy of religion” in academic circles and by the early to mid-2000s, the term becomes more common place in descriptions of experiences related to questions of faith and relevance.2  In 2016, Richard Rohr, a well-known leader in spiritual formation, published a work called “An Invitation to Grace” where he reflects on Walter Brueggeman’s work describing the Christian walk as a journey through the Torah (rules/law) to the Prophets (criticism for those rules) to Wisdom literature (resolution leading to wisdom).3 In his reflection, Rohr offers the following sequence for this journey: Order, Disorder, and Reorder and states that “Much of the chaos and instability of our time stems from many young and sophisticated people now beginning life in the second stage of Disorder and criticism, without first learning deeply from Order. It appears to be a disaster. The three stages must be in proper sequence for life to unfold somewhat naturally.”4 This sequencing has been seen by some as the catalyst towards the deconstruction journey with the second stage of disorder taking the focus as the modern evangelical version of deconstruction.5  And true to Rohr’s prediction, the location of young people in this second stage has become a major characteristic of the current deconstruction movement.

It is important to note that this movement or journey, however one might describe it, from initial understandings of one’s faith through a time of questioning or deconstructing into a time of reaffirmation or reconstruction is neither new nor is it unusual. Far from that, we see examples of this journey all the way back to the beginning of the Christian faith.

As an example from Scripture, we can look to the story of Peter found in Acts 10 where Peter has gone to the roof to pray and subsequently has a vision. In his vision, a cloth is being lowered from heaven and on it are a number of “unclean” animals and he is told by a voice to “Kill and eat” these animals. Peter immediately responds with “No” stating that these animals are prohibited by the law (order). The voice replies that Peter should no longer call things impure that God has made pure (disorder). Paul is left wondering about what all this could mean when low and behold, a group of Gentile believers shows up at his house and the Spirit of God tells Peter to go with them. Peter makes the following statement upon arriving at the host’s home: “You are well aware it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile (order). But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean (disorder).  So when I was sent for, I came without raising an objection (reorder)” Acts 10:28,29.

In this Scripture passage, Peter questions something he has been taught as right and good and true his whole life and deconstructs it in order to arrive a new understanding (wisdom) through the Spirit of God. This pattern directly follows the prediction of Brueggemann, Rohr, and the deconstructionist path.

So the question becomes, why has deconstruction taken on such a life of its own as both a movement and a buzz word in recent times? And why, if is a natural journey of faith, has it become something of an affront to the evangelical church?

For this conversation, we must begin to look at the circumstances surrounding the deconstructionist movement over the last two years as well as the environment where this movement has found a growing community.

Deconstruction and Social Media in the Age of Covid

In March 2020, the normal gathering and communal practices of life in America were fundamentally altered. While this a global experience of all communities, those who found identity and continuity in times of gathering such as the church on Sunday mornings, this change was especially challenging. Moving community online proved challenging to those institutions that typically met in person. But for communities that were already formed online, the challenge was actually a boon to their burgeoning population.

Since March 2020, Americans have spent, on average, an additional 1-2 hours on social media per day as compared to pre-pandemic numbers.6 Social media platforms gained users at unprecedented rates with Instagram increasing by 16%, Facebook by 19%, and Reddit by 30%.7 But by far the greatest growth was on the social media application, TikTok, which grew its monthly usage by 38% (ibid). In the first quarter of 2020, when the pandemic began to shut down communities across the globe, TikTok had been downloaded 315 million times and in June 2020 it gained another 87 million users in just one month, effectively making it the app of choice for the pandemic.8

As a minister that works directly with younger generations, I have made it a practice to be where those generations can be found. As such, I was part of the great TikTok boon of 2020 and it was not long before I stumbled across Deconstruction TikTok. As of my writing this article, the hashtag #deconstruction had 208.5 million views and #deconstructiontiktok had 8.1 million followers.9 If you click on the hashtag, you quickly discover that the type of deconstruction being discussed is not Jacque Derrida version (philosophical) but the evangelical version of religious deconstruction.

With the vast majority of TikTok users being from the Millennial and Gen Z populations, we can safely assume that the majority of the followers to this movement fall within those parameters. The creators of the content, as with all areas of life, fall between the extremes of outright rejection of God and religion to simply questioning the morals and beliefs that one has been raised to embrace. In any case, the popularity of the movement and the online community that it has created is formidable.

And therein lies the reason for the current focus on deconstruction in evangelical Christian circles, both by those who are in the stage of deconstruction and those who are calling attention to it from the pulpit. However, the reality of the situation is that those who are growing in maturity of faith and in their relationship with God have always moved through this journey, albeit without the vocal and visual support of a community who are processing with them. Which begs the question; how should we respond when we are met with someone who tells us that they are deconstructing?

Responding to Deconstruction

In my current ministry role, I have interactions weekly with people who identify as deconstructing. However, the differences exhibited in their individual journeys are as unique as can be. While some have decidedly come to a place of rejecting God and Christianity, most find themselves in a place of questioning and discernment. The majority affirm their belief in Jesus but are working through the nuances of their faith and how they should live it out in the world today.10

Here are a few experiences from my own pastoral interactions that might be helpful in journeying with self-identified deconstructionists.

  1. Assess what is being deconstructed – Because the label of deconstruction is being used to describe everything from deconversion and rejection to discerning and questioning, it’s important to actually listen to the individual and hear where they are on their journey. Don’t assume you know what the label means.
  2. Offer new language – Often those who are deconstructing label themselves that way because they don’t have other verbiage to use and are just adopting the terminology of the culture. I often speak to people about the concept of “decluttering” or getting rid of beliefs or teachings that have clouded their view of Jesus. Other terminology includes those offered by Brueggemann and Rohr as noted above. Helping the individual identify their unique journey helps them to truly discern for themselves where they are at rather than getting swept up in a cultural movement.
  3. Normalize the journey – It can be scary, especially for those who have grown up in a strict religious setting, to view the journey of order, disorder, and reorder as anything other than sacrilegious and heretical. To ask questions, to express doubt, or to reject certain teachings can feel wrong or sinful when, in fact, it can be a marker of spiritual growth and maturity. Assuring them that what they are experiencing is an important part of growing in one’s faith can offer the freedom needed to grow and discern.
  4. Offer to journey alongside– Nothing is more isolating than feeling on the outside of a group you’ve always been inside. By offering to journey with them, at their pace and in their way, without judgment or forcing them to move more quickly or slowly, we can become an important part of their spiritual community and offer the support and guidance needed for healthy growth. It’s not about making them agree with us but rather being a presence that consistently points to Jesus.
  5. Recognize God’s work – Ultimately, the relationship that a person cultivates with God of either acceptance or rejection is not something we can control. God alone can speak to hearts and bring answers to life’s deepest questions. Christ tells us that if He is lifted high, he will draw all humanity to Himself. Our job is to lift Jesus high; to love God and to love others. It’s His job to speak to their hearts.

As ministers and fellow journeyers, it behooves us to reject the posture of defensiveness or criticism that can sometimes accompany reactions to those who find themselves in the deconstruction movement. Instead, it is important that we recognize that none of us have arrived at a place of fully knowing as we are fully known and remain humble as we too allow God to challenge us, teach us, and shape us to become more and more the image of His Son. Deconstruction can merely be a step on our journey and one that, if done surrounded by the grace of God and love of community, can lead us to love God and love others even more; to do the work of the Father which is to believe in the one He has sent – Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sources

  1. Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopedia. “deconstruction.” Encyclopedia Britannica, October 20, 2020. https://www.britannica.com/topic/deconstruction.
  2. Dicenso, J.J. Deconstruction and the philosophy of religion: World affirmation and critique. Int J Philos Relig 31, 29–43 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01539179
  3. Brueggemann, W.  The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012.
  4. Rohr, R. (2016). The Invitation of Grace. Accessed online 1/4/22: https://cac.org/the-invitation-of-grace-2016-03-21/
  5. Vanderpool, K. The Age of Deconstruction and the Future of the Church. Relevant Magazine. 4/7/21. Accessed online: https://www.relevantmagazine.com/faith/the-age-of-deconstruction-and-future-of-the-church/
  6. Additional daily time spent on social media platforms by users in the United States due to coronavirus pandemic as of March 2020. Published 1/28/21. Accessed on 1/4/22 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1116148/more-time-spent-social-media-platforms-users-usa-coronavirus/
  7. Growth of monthly active users of selected social media platforms worldwide from 2019 to 2021. Published 3/8/2021. Accessed on 1/4/22 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1219318/social-media-platforms-growth-of-mau-worldwide/
  8. TikTok Statistics. Published 9/27/21. Accessed 1/5/22 from https://wallaroomedia.com/blog/social-media/tiktok-statistics/
  9. TikTok application, Accessed 1/12/21.
  10. Hardman, R. Deconstruction, Deconversion, and Ex-vangelicalism. Publishd and accessed 1/10/22 from https://www.randyhardman.com/post/deconstruction-deconversion-and-ex-vangelicalism

A version of this article was first published here by this author in the Shalom! Journal Brethren in Christ U.S, Winter 2022, Vol. 42, Issue 1.


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.

NEW COHORT FORMING FALL 2022

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
  • Real-life 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 about

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

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

Seven Practical Ways to Welcome Kids to Worship

Recently, I’ve had several questions sent my way on the practicality of having all ages in communal worship together with adults. While some of the questions pertained to older generations participating in church, most of them were focused on the challenge of having children in the church service.  But after conversing for a bit, it was evident that no one needed to be convinced that children should be there at some point (that reconciled fairly quickly after some theologicaldevelopmental, and sociological evidences of the benefits of intergenerational worship); the bigger felt need was just for some practical and simple ways to make it possible for children to be integrated into the service.

Our traditional service structures often make it difficult to extend the hand of welcome to the next generation and it can be difficult to maneuver within those confines and find ways of incorporating all generations.

With that in mind, here are some practical tips and tools for Intergenerational Worship Services that might be useful for your faith community. I’ve shared these in the past and have had a lot of great feedback from multiple churches and denominations. I’d love to hear what your church is doing to make room for all ages to find a space to worship together.

1. Kid’s Worship Team – Let’s redefine worship as more than singing before the sermon. Worship seeks to put the attention on God and give Him the honor that is due. And kids are amazing at doing this. A Kid’s Worship Team doesn’t necessary lead “singing” but they worship through hospitality (holding doors, handing out bulletins, etc), prayer (they go forward during prayer time and pray for themselves and others) and generosity (they take up the communion and pray over it).

For our team, the kids followed a weekly schedule, just like the adult worship team, and if they missed their Sunday, they had to get someone to take their spot. They also had to go through a training on worship with me before they could serve.

2. Sermon Notes – There are a lot of great templates out there for sermon notes and for older kids, it’s a great way to keep them involved with the service.  In one church, if a child completed their sermon notes, they could get something out of a treasure box and the completed form was given back to their parents so the parents could have a follow-up conversation with their kids at home.

3. Call Out the Kids – Kids love to get attention and they love when they get to be drawn into “adult” things like the sermon. We often asked whoever was speaking to at some point in the sermon just say something like, “Hey kids, have you ever seen this?” or something else that would be appropriate to the text to help draw the kids into the story. It’s amazing how just that little comment really drew them in and helped redirect their attention to the service.

4. Interactive Teaching and Learning – Anything interactive is great!  One of the ways our current church engages the kids is if there is a topic that involves a story from the Bible, the pastor will have the kids help act out the story. Everyone loves it – it’s spontaneous so things definitely go wrong, but the whole congregation gets involved and no one forgets the Scripture we studied that week.

5. Busy Bags  – Busy bags get a bad rap, mostly because people don’t understand the developmental science behind them. Have “busy bags” but explain to parents and other church members that these activities aren’t intended to distract the kids but rather to help the kids use all of their developing senses; studies show if their hands and eyes are busy, their ears will be listening.

Quiet activities like lacing cards, stickers scenes, foam craft kits, beads and pipe cleaners, small puzzles and coloring are all great ways to engage your kinesthetic and visual learners.

6. Pew Boxes or Worship Boxes  – Similar to busy bags, these boxes can be placed underneath chairs or pews and filled with quiet activities and books for kids to use during worship services. I love the ones put together by Traci Smith and outlined here

7. Active Involvement – The difference between “having kids in Big Church” and welcoming kids into corporate worship lies basically in participation.  Are children being invited to actively participate or passively observe?  Inviting children and youth to be part of the order of worship has incredible sway in creating a sense of inclusion and welcome.

actions – it can just be a song that they like – my son loves, “No Longer Slaves” and can’t wait to lead it), and pray.   Being involved signals that we have a place in the congregation – we are a part of something bigger – and everyone needs to know that truth.

There are beautiful opportunities for us to connect with one another in deep and meaningful ways when we worship together. Finding those treasures are a huge part of why many churches are growing more and more intergenerational in their approach to community. And the reward is the opportunity for all of us to grow closer to Jesus as lifelong disciples.


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.

NEW COHORT FORMING FALL 2022

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
  • Real-life 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 about

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

About this Blog

Refocus Ministry was founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The Next Great (KidMin) Revolution Is Nothing New

The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian

“Go therefore and make disciples” Matthew 28:19

The call to make disciples isn’t a new one. It is as ancient as the Christian faith, given by Christ himself before His ascension into heaven.

The journey of a disciple isn’t a new phenomenon. Christian Scripture and history are both filled with stories and testimonies of people who have come to know and follow Christ, from young to old, from all over the world. 

The information about when that discipleship journey begins for most current Christians isn’t new. In 2015, it was reported that 63% of Christian adults started their discipleship journey between the ages of 4-14 (Source).

But here is what is new.

Barna Group has recently completed a study focused on children’s ministry that has yielded some important information about how that discipleship journey plays out. They shared this information recently at the Awana Child Discipleship Summit and here is what they found:  It wasn’t enough for a child to be simply be involved in children’s ministry at their church in order to engage in the formative practices and meaningful characteristics of a disciple. There needed to be more, another integral step, another piece to the puzzle: Relationship.

They discovered that when kids have a meaningful relationship with an adult in the church, they are twice as likely to have an ongoing relationship with the church.

They are three times more likely to be engaged in Scripture including understanding the metanarrative of Scripture and integrating biblical principles in their life.

They are twice as likely to say church matters to them, three times as likely to see church as a highlight in their week, and three times as likely to read the Bible on their own.

The conclusion drawn by the researchers at Barna Group? (and I quote) “The meaningful relationships individuals have as a children fundamentally influence the stability of their future faith.”

Now, here’s the reality check: Only 2 out of 5 kids in children’s ministry have a positive, meaningful relationship with a mentoring adult.

Two. Out of Five. That’s only 40% of kids in children’s ministry at a given church.

Even more telling than that. Only 53% of churchgoing adults identified “Have a loving, caring relationship with an adult” as an outcome for children’s ministry (75% of ministry leaders agreed). That means half of adult church members and a quarter of ministry leaders did not see developing a meaningful relationship between younger and older generations as an identifiable goal and desired outcome for ministry to children.

Re-read this quote from Reinhold Niebuhr again.

The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there.

The call to make disciples has always been here. Our children have always been here. Paul spoke directly to them in the letters he wrote to the church. Jesus put a child in the middle of all his disciples and declared the least to be the greatest in the kingdom of God.

It is time to take radically the call to welcome children and not hinder them.

It is time for us to create spaces and make room for children and youth and young adults to grow with us, worship with us, learn with us, serve with us, laugh with us, cry with us, question and doubt and argue and debate with us, to be in relationship with us so as to become disciples of Jesus with us.

J.T English in his book Deep Discipleship states, “Community is indispensable to discipleship, but community is not discipleship.” The two go hand-in-hand.

If we are not cultivating spaces in our churches and faith communities for our youngest and our oldest and all the generations in between to develop meaningful relationships in community and learning, we are missing out on our call to disciple-making.

It’s not new but it is time for us to take radically that which was always there.


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.

NEW COHORT FORMING FALL 2022

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
  • Real-life 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 speak to someone about any questions, please fill out the contact form below with the Subject of “ReFocus Coaching Cohort”


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 founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Too Many Bible Stories?

What’s your story?

If I were to ask you that, what comes to mind?  For many of us, we begin to construct a short biography in our head. Where we come from, what our history is, how we got to where we are, what is happening in our life, what we think the future might hold.  An overview of our life, an overarching narrative or succinct summation.

I doubt very much what you would share first would be the memory of your first bicycle ride or that time you fell out of your desk in middle school or the day you got promoted at your new job or when you got an A on your final exam. Those were all momentous occasions and probably formational in making you…you.

But those aren’t your story. Those stories are part of your story.

As I get to know you, I’d probably hear about all those other important moments. But if I were introducing you to another friend, I probably wouldn’t include any of them in my introduction.

So why do we do that with God?

We are masters at telling children stories about God but when it comes to telling God’s Story, we can fall short.

We love to tell them all kinds of wonderful Bible stories like David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale and Jesus and the 5,000. These stories make up the bulk of our Christian children’s books and Sunday school curriculum. It’s not unusual for children’s ministers to ask, “What are the key stories children need to know before they move into youth group? And how can I tell them in new, exciting ways?”

And those stories are PART of His story.

Important parts. Formational parts. Necessary parts. 

But those stories get their meaning, find their place, and add the most value when they are told in the context of The Story, what theologian N.T. Wright calls “the metanarrative of Scripture.”

In their book, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen share that individual experiences make sense and acquire meaning within the context of some story we believe to be the true story of the world. We need a large background story to ground us because when “people don’t know the whole story so they get the parts wrong”  (Dr. Catherine Stonehouse).

Everyone has a metanarrative.

For Christians, Scripture is the metanarrative. 

The Story tells us WHO God is. It tells us our place in The Story. It takes the disjointed stories of Scripture and weaves them into a beautiful seamless tale of perfect love created, thwarted, rescued and realized. It is God’s story as Creator, Father, Savior, Son, Friend and Spirit.

To tell the stories apart from The Story can leave us with disjointed moments rather than holistic perspective. These powerful moments are essential to rounding out The Story and helping us know God better, but without the context of The Story, we can reduce God to a God of moments instead of the God of Eternity.

Written into each of the moments is the bigger story of God’s Love calling us back to a perfect love relationship with him. Even the moments we don’t write into curriculum like David and Bathsheba, Ananias and Sapphira, and Jacob and Tamar, we can see a bigger picture of sin, redemption and God’s unchanging nature of love and justice.

In context, the stories matter because they are more than moments; they are parts of a greater whole. 

A friend of mine once shared with me that her grandfather, 85 years old, had begun to question his faith. After a stroke had left him in a place of needing care from others, he had time to really critically think about what he had heard in church his whole life. As she visited with him, he explained his frustration over the disjointed and seemingly discontinuous nature of the Bible stories he’d heard over and over again and how they had no relevance to his life.

One day it dawned on her; even though he’d been in church his whole life, he’d never heard The Story. So one afternoon she and her sister sat down with him and for the very first time, her grandfather heard The Story of God’s perfect creation, our separation because of sin, the reconciliation of the cross, and the invitation to us to join The Story for all eternity.

It changed everything for this 85-year-old man. For the first time, he understood the context. He saw what joined it all together.

He heard The Story of God…and it changed everything.

I believe it can…no, it will, do that for all of us too!


There are some really great resources out there that share some of the familiar Bible Stories in the context of The Story.

Are You Ready to Connect Generations?

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 founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

For The Ones Who Question (and the ones who feel they can’t)

When you serve in ministry, it is not unusual people to ask you questions about all manner of topics. Here are some of the recent questions that I have been met with in my ministry circles.

  • “When is Jesus coming back?”
  • “What does it mean to ‘do good’ to people that hate you?”
  • “Compared to a lot of people, I would say we are rich. Are we ‘the rich’ that God talks about in the Bible?”

These are not simple questions. They are ones that, by default, require some theological context, some abstract thinking, and a good deal of Scripture searching, often together.

What is striking about these questions is who is asking them.

The first one? A preschooler in our church.

The second? A fifth grader who was genuinely curious how to navigate what it means to literally “do good” to others, especially others that aren’t so nice to you.

The third? A teenager reflecting the sermon and discussion we had in church as a community.

In my discussions with people regarding the importance of intergenerational community and times of learning and worship that take place together, all ages in one space, I often get pushback that the themes discussed in these places are too theological or too abstract for children and youth to be able to engage. And while, to a certain extent, some of the information may be beyond their current verbal and cognitive skill levels to comprehend, much of what is offered is actually leading to important questions that help form and shape their faith. In fact, being in an intergenerational community is one of the most developmentally appropriate spaces for kids and youth.

Here are a four reasons why I think it is important we create intergenerational spaces of worship and learning for purposes of generational discipleship and faith formation.

So Kids/Youth Can Ask Questions

Of utmost importance, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is creating a safe and welcoming space for questions of all kinds to be asked, answered, discussed and desired. Asking questions is the very best way for any of us to learn and when we create one-dimensional spaces where there is no room for discussion, only a download of information and side-by-side consumption without meaningful interactions and ongoing relationships, our ability to learn and grow is impacted.

In a survey done by the Barna Institute, 36% of young adults expressed that they were not able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church.” Where did that they learn that? It had to be in their experiences as kids and youth.

So Older Generations Can Make Disciples

The Great Commission to “go and make disciples” often gets couched in “missionary language” creating a scenario where the only real disciplemaking happens if we pack up and head out of our church and into another country. But the younger generations NEED relationships with the older generations in their faith community so they can grow and mature as believers, having men and women who commit to journeying with them towards Jesus. It’s an essential part of our faith experience and one that, unfortunately, gets overlooked in our age-segregated and siloed church experiences.

So We Can Read Scripture In Community

Often times in churches, reading the Bible happens one of two places – from the pulpit on Sunday morning or in an age-specific Bible study/Sunday school setting. The result of that can be very one-dimensional, listening to one person or one generation’s thoughts on that portion of Scripture. Some of the most formational experiences I’ve had in my walk of faith is when the Bible is opened in a small group of multiple generations and the words are shared, discussed, debated, and dialogued about in community. The holistic reading of the Bible becomes richer and space is made for us to learn from and ask questions of one another.

So We Can Foster A Sense of Belonging

I think we can all acknowledge that for the most part “big church” or our regular church assemblies aren’t places where children feel like they “fit.”  Even churches that are transitioning to more intergenerational approaches can find it difficult to create that feel through programming and atmosphere.

If we don’t feel like we belong, it just makes sense that we will look for a place where we do.  If we don’t “fit” somewhere, chances are we won’t go back or stay when we can leave.  And if we don’t feel like a part of something, it’s easy to disengage and withdraw even if we are physically present.  

Creating welcoming spaces of worship and learning that encourage meaningful relationships and ongoing interactions can help foster a sense of belonging to something bigger, a community, a family, and having that sense of belonging can help foster a space that encourages questions, empathizes with doubt, and expects discussion.

Connecting generations at church and at home is the mission and ministry of ReFocus.

Why? For many of the reasons you see listed above but mostly because we are called to make disciples and in order to do that, we must be connected to one another, across generations, across ages, in community. We must learn from one another and let God lead us together in our journey towards becoming more and more like Jesus.


Are You Ready to Connect Generations?

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 founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.

With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

Declare War? Really?

Over the past two days, two articles have shown up repeatedly in my social media feed. The first is entitled, “The mistake that is causing churches and their ministers to collapse” by BT Irwin and the second is “Skillet’s John Cooper: It’s Time to ‘Declare War Against This Deconstruction Christian Movement’ by Tyler Huckabee, Relevant Magazine.

If any juxtaposition of commentary could be more relevant to the church in America in 2021, I don’t know what it is. Both of these articles seek to address what is happening in the evangelical North American church. Both address the exodus of young people from the mainstream church. Both offer explanations for the shifts in attitude and focus of the rising generations.

But one declares war.

The other calls us to action.

I’ve been working in the areas of children, youth, and family ministry for over a decade. I was raised in the church and have served in every level of volunteer and paid church ministry. Through the ministry of ReFocus I’ve worked with dozens of churches and ministries across North America of varying denominations and theological traditions. And having done so, I can with confidence say this, declaring war against the rising generations and the movements they are enveloped in is not going to help us fulfill the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment.

In fact, I’m 100% certain declaring war will do the exact opposite of making disciples, loving God, and loving others.

In the first article, the author (BT Irwin) relates the experience of his father who collapsed under the weight of pastoral ministry and the “mistake” he points to in his church leadership is not empowering the members of the church to do the primary work of believers – making disciples. Instead he focused on growing the church in numbers rather than in disciples. As he put it, he measured width instead of depth. And it nearly killed him.

The author then shares his own experience in church through this story:

A few years before when I was still single, I felt a strong need to grow and mature as a Christian. I knew all the right facts from the Bible, but I felt less and less like I knew how to live a Christ-like life. When I compared myself to the world around me, I didn’t see anything about my lifestyle that set me apart as a man of faith, hope, and love. I wanted to see the Christ-life in real life. I wanted someone living that Christ-life to show and tell me how to do it, too.

I wanted to be an apprentice to a master teacher.

I asked around for a few months, but didn’t find anyone who seemed open to the idea of sharing his life with me that way.

Finally, in desperation, I put up flyers around the church building announcing that I was looking for an older Christian man to “take me under his wing” and let me follow and learn from him. I just wanted someone to pray and study the Bible with me and perhaps invite me to come along with him as he practiced the Christ-life in and out of the church.

I knew it was a tall order, but in a congregation of 1,000 members (and more than 20 elders and ministers), I thought at least one person would call me.

No one called me. No one.

No one called.

No one cared.

And as a result, the author says he felt rejected, like a failure, in his own church. He was literally begging for generational discipleship. He pleaded for mentorship. He longed for someone to pour into him. He was dying for relationship.

While by some miracle, he did not leave the faith as a result of this experience, one could certainly understand if anyone in this position would begin to deconstruct their faith and question their belief system.

And the response by John Cooper is to declare war on people like this.

Surely we can do better.

Surely we MUST do better.

Do you want to know what keeps young people in the church? Do you want to know what keeps them grounded in their faith in Jesus Christ and walking through times of doubt and fear and confusion?

It’s not declaring war on them or any movement they’ve associate themselves with. It’s not amazing children’s ministry programs or youth ministry events or buildings or “growing” churches or the best worship band in town. It’s not loud voices yelling at them and telling that they are wrong.

“For those who stayed, church remained a key part of their life because they saw it as relevant to their life and they had relationships there that mattered” (Source: Lifeway Research)

Genuine relationships. First, they have strong relationships with others their own age. Second, they have a ministry leader they respect and from whom they want to learn. Third—and perhaps most importantly—they have relationship with older adults. Young people long for older mentors and models, and the church that offers these relationships will be a magnet for young people.” (Source: ChurchLeaders.com)

“Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which effective faith communities are developing flourishing faith in both young and old. In many churches, this means changing the metaphor from simply passing the baton to the next generation to a more functional, biblical picture of a body—that is, the entire community of faith, across the entire lifespan, working together to fulfill God’s purposes.” (Source: You Lost Me, David Kinnaman, Barna Group)

These are just a few of many examples of research that shows us that relationships, community, and generational discipleship are essential, not optional, foundations for a growing church – one that is growing in depth without a constant focus on width.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m fired up. I’m exhausted with trying to convince churches that we need to cultivate space for relationships, connection, and communication across generations with the work of peace-making and kingdom-building as our guide. But here is what I know:

I refuse to declare war. Especially on the casualties of the church.

Instead, I want to be the one who steps into the mess, takes the proverbial flier off the church wall, and says “Yes” to every young person (or old person!) who wants to question, doubt, grow, cry and deconstruct with me – to journey with them as we look to follow Jesus better…as disciples in the making.

To seek peace and pursue it, to beat swords into plowshares, to bridge the generational gap, and to be the church that loves God, loves others, and makes disciples.


Is Your Church READY to Grow 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 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.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and the Importance of Connectedness

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.

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.