Within the context of a church or faith community, age-specific opportunities like Sunday school and youth group are the “norm”. However, if communities lack the space and opportunity for generations to connect, develop meaningful relationships, and engage in intentional discipleship, we miss out on some incredible ways to grow with God and one another. It is essential to recognize the tremendous benefits that intergenerational connections can bring to the spiritual growth and overall vibrancy of the community.
Let’s look at five powerful ways that intergenerational relationships can transform a community of faith as described through the Psalms.
Shared Spiritual Journey
In Psalm 78 we read,
I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done…so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
This is the heart of a community’s spiritual journey. Faith communities serve as spaces where individuals embark on a shared spiritual journey, regardless of age. By nurturing intergenerational connections, we create opportunities for diverse perspectives, experiences, and spiritual insights to intersect. Older members can offer guidance and mentorship to younger individuals, while the younger generation can infuse fresh energy, passion, and new perspectives into the community.
Mentorship and Discipleship
Psalm 145:3-7 says, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.”
Intergenerational relationships in the church provide a fertile ground for mentorship and discipleship. Within a church setting, older, more experienced members can guide and mentor younger individuals, helping them navigate their faith journey, offering wisdom, and serving as role models. The younger generation, in turn, can bring enthusiasm, curiosity, and a willingness to learn, invigorating the community and fostering a sense of continuity and generational growth. One generation to another.
Strengthening Family Units
In Psalm 68 we read : Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord., A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing..”
Churches often welcome families of different generations and varying compositions including single parents, stepfamilies, foster and adoptive families, and grandparents or other relatives serving as primary caregivers.
Intergenerational connections within a faith community contribute to the strengthening of all types of family units. By providing a welcoming place for interactions between various age groups, families are nurtured, and bonds across generations are deepened. Children, parents, and grandparents can engage in shared activities, worship, and service, fostering a sense of unity and shared values.
Worship and Celebration
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song. (Psalm 95:1,2)
Intergenerational connections enrich worship experiences and celebrations within a faith community. Different generations bring their unique perspectives, musical genres, and spiritual expressions to the worship setting. Intergenerational collaborations in choirs, music ministries, and worship teams can create a diverse and vibrant atmosphere, uniting multiple generations in worship and fostering a sense of belonging for all.
Service and Outreach
Psalm 112:1-5 proclaims “Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely who conduct their affairs with justice.“
Intergenerational connections empower faith communities to engage in meaningful service and outreach. By bringing together the talents, resources, and experiences of individuals from various age groups, the whole community can have a more significant impact in serving others, caring for the vulnerable, and spreading love and compassion. Intergenerational partnerships in mission projects and community initiatives exemplify our shared values and commitment to following Jesus and engaging the work He is already doing in the world.
In the realm of a church or faith community, the tendency towards age-specific groupings is understandable. Being with people the same age as you can offer a sense of comfort in shared experiences. However, by intentionally embracing intergenerational connections, faith communities can unlock a wealth of spiritual growth, mentorship, family unity, vibrant worship, and impactful service. Let us recognize and celebrate the different generations within our faith communities, embracing the beauty and transformative power of intergenerational relationships that lead to lifelong disciples.
Psalm 115 declares “The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike. May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
INTERGEN 101: THE BASIC OF CONNECTING COMMUNITIES FOR GENERATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP
Back by Your Request: Free Webinar on Intergenerational Ministry. TWO DATES, TWO TIMES!
Generational discipleship and connecting generations in community is a growing area of interest in children, youth, and family ministry. Join ReFocus Ministry for a free webinar that will give you the basic building blocks of intergenerational ministry as well as offer practical next steps and resources to identifying and connecting the generations present in your church today.
Register Online at Eventbrite at the links below
Summer is the Time to Connect!
Special offer for churches ready to build a discipling community.
Connect Generations, a ministry assessment tool that can be done by a church in less than a week that offers specific insight into the barriers and bridges to connect generations and bring your community together.
We’re so convinced that this tool will transform discipleship in your church, we are offering a SPECIAL promotional offer for the summer. Use the code CONNECTSUM to get 25% off your Connect Generations Ministry Assessment Tool including personalized feedback and a FREE 30 minute coaching session.
Christina Embree is the founder and director of ReFocus Ministry. She holds a masters in ministry focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and a doctorate in spiritual formation with a focus on age segregation and intergenerational ministry. In addition to coaching churches of multiple denominations and traditions all around the globe, Christina serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship for the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ and as a pastor at Plowshares Brethren in Christ in Lexington, Kentucky. She is widely recognized as a speaker and author in the areas of generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and family ministry. As the mother of three children, she is familiar with the challenges of faith at home and pastoral ministry. She along with her husband Luke share a love for the church, their community, and the global work of peace and restoration through Jesus.