Better than Ten Percent

Recently, one of my friends posted on Facebook the following question: “Trends indicate that the church is losing an entire generation of young people. What can reverse this trend?

There were a lot of responses, ranging from revival to education to community.

On that same day, I received an email from Springtide Research sharing some of their findings from one of their latest surveys.

In The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty, our research is revealing some surprising things.

First, only 10% of young people told us a faith leader reached out to them during the pandemic.

Second, only 16% of young people turn to faith leaders in times of uncertainty—which is the same percent of young people who tell us they turn to “no one.”

Springtide Research

Ten percent of young people had a faith leader reach out to them over the year-long pandemic.

Let’s put these two pieces of information into context: One statement contends that the church is “losing” an entire generation, presumably the youngest generations. The other states that during a global, year-long pandemic that has been proven to have had a profound impact on the youngest generations, only 10% of them had a faith leader reach out to them.

Desperate, Sad, Depressed, Feet, Hands, Crossed

I know, I’ve repeated that statistic a few times. I’m hoping at this point the reality of what is being experienced by young people in the church is beginning to sink in.

Revival without relationship, education without empathy, and community without consistency will not bring about lasting, lifelong, dynamic faith formation. It will bring about a deconstructing, disassociating generation who know A LOT about the Bible but very little about the Church; who can quote Bible verses and win treasure boxes and go on mission trips but never experience a community that allows for doubt, questions, disagreement, or meaningful intergenerational relationships.

Lifelong faith does not find its allegiance in a building, a curriculum, a denomination, or even a church. Lifelong faith is built upon a foundation of relationship with God and relationship with the Church. It is not contained in a Sunday School classroom, a thriving youth group, or an amazing worship band. It is found in discipleship, one generation to another, in meaningful relationships based on mutual love, respect, and honor.

My response to the original posted question?

“Relationships, conversation, genuine community, slow to anger, slow to speak, quick to listen, serving others without expectation of return, treating all people with love and grace, valuing a person for their humanity made in God’s image over their personal beliefs, values, morals or political leanings, divorcing nationalism from faith, pursuing peace and living as ambassadors of reconciliation”

Friends, ministers, fellow Christians – we need to do better. We don’t need better stages or better pews or better songs or better curriculums or better (fill-in-the-blank). We need to do better at simply loving God and love others; at making space for genuine relationships to be cultivated between all members of the congregation and clergy; at prioritizing community over convenience and customs; at being the body of Christ. Better than ten percent.

There’s no silver bullet that’s going to turn the tide of those choosing to walk away from the faith experience they grew up with. But relationships, true, caring, meaningful relationships, sure have a fighting chance at making a difference.


ReConnect: A Webinar for Generational Connections

Ready to Start Connecting Generations, Not Sure Where to Begin?

ReFocus Ministry is pleased to present a four-part webinar series on generational discipleship and connection for churches interested in exploring intergenerational ministry both in their church and in their homes. Each session will focus on a unique aspect of gathering generations together, both the challenges and opportunities, as well as practical tips to begin implementing now during this time away from regular church gatherings.

  • Session 1 – ReConnect. This first session of the webinar focuses on defining generations, generation gap, and the need for generational discipleship in your church. This is the “What” behind generational discipleship.
  • Session 2 – ReGenerate. This session focuses on the the research, the reasons, and the heart behind connecting generations from both a secular and spiritual viewpoint. This is the “Why” behind generational discipleship.
  • Session 3 – ReProduce. This session offers practical tips, strategies, and ideas to being connecting generations in your faith community and in homes in meaningful, lasting, life-changing ways. This is the “How” behind generational discipleship.
  • Session 4 – ReLease. It’s time to go and do! This session will provide a discussion and debrief around the questions, “What? So What? Now What?” and give you and starting point for incorporating generational discipleship as a meaningful part of your faith community. This is the “Who” behind generational discipleship at your church and in your home!

Anyone registered for all four sessions will receive a FREE half-hour coaching session/follow-up specific to your ministry needs.

For more information and to purchase your ticket, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reconnect-a-webinar-for-generational-connections-tickets-185848597157 or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1020287428749254


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.

On Belonging at Church: “These are My People”

“To some extent the presence of children in the worship of the first Christians was a matter of necessity. But Paul’s acceptance of children of the church as ‘belonging to God’ or ‘holy’ suggest they were not only there because they had to be. They were there because they belonged there.” 

W. . Strange, Children in the Early Church

Once when I picked my daughter up from an after-school choir practice, she came skipping out, quite happy, and when she got in the car she said, “Mom, these are my people.  This is where I belong.”  This was in contrast to the previous day when I had picked her up from a different club and her attitude was one more of resignation than exuberance and her words were, “I just don’t fit in there.”

We all have a sense of when we “fit” somewhere and when we don’t.  For instance, I left my one and only Zumba class saying, “Yup, nope… I don’t belong there.” But there are other places where within mere moments of being there, I just know, this is right, this is where I belong.  It’s not awkward.  I don’t feel unwelcome. It’s not strange or unnatural.

It’s just where I belong.

I’m sure you have figured out where this whole thing is going.  I mean, if the observation made by Dr. Strange in the quote above is accurate, children in the early church weren’t just there out of consequence but because there was a recognition of belonging They weren’t just there because the church met in their home, but because they were a needed and necessary part of the body.  

Dr. Strange goes on to point out that in the letters of Paul, he speaks directly to children (Eph. 6:1-4, Col. 3:20).  This is, as he says, remarkable meaning something we should remark on.  Why?

Because these letters were being read aloud in the corporate assembly of the church.

The church in a region would gather together and hear these words being read aloud to them and learning together the words of God.  And guess who Paul assumed would be there?  The children.  And guess who he felt was worthy of being taught specifically in the midst of the larger corporate gathering? Children.

Throughout all of the epistles we see children mentioned, often in regards to their instruction and upbringing at home under the loving discipleship and discipline of their parents.  

But what we don’t see is their omission.

They were (and are) an integral part of the church.  And while a thorough review of church history will reveal a strong emphasis on the raising of children in the home and the passing on of faith from the parents, there is never a dismissal of children from the larger church body and wider community.

If you don’t “fit” somewhere, chances are you won’t go back or stay when you can leave.  

If you don’t feel like you belong, it just makes sense that you will look for a place where you do.  

And if you don’t feel like a part of something, it’s easy to disengage and withdraw even if you are physically present.  

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.

I think perhaps that’s because fundamentally, there’s a cultural expectation that kids won’t be there because for many years they haven’t.

Whenever you try on something new, it’s uncomfortable at first, for everyone.  But I truly think if our approach changes, over time programming and atmosphere won’t matter nearly as much as simply conveying the expectation that, of course, children will be there.  Like Paul’s approach, the assumption will be that they are there, they are listening, and they belong.

And the kids will know it.

And that’s not to say, there shouldn’t be times of age-appropriate ministry, because I think there should be.  And that’s not to say that a primary focus of discipleship shouldn’t be the home, because Scripture is clear that it should be.  But, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us or an unexpected distraction when children do join us for corporate worship.  In fact, it should be welcome and expected.  They should just…belong.

Just like my sweet girl intuitively knew that those choir friends were “her people” our church children will know that we are theirs. In their heart, they will know that they are “supposed” to be there; that they belong. And eventually, it won’t be a surprise or distraction to us adults when they are. Because we too will know that they belong there.

Ready to Start, Not Sure Where?

ReFocus Ministry is pleased to present a four-part webinar series on generational discipleship and connection for churches interested in exploring intergenerational ministry both in their church and in their homes. Each session will focus on a unique aspect of gathering generations together, both the challenges and opportunities, as well as practical tips to begin implementing now during this time away from regular church gatherings.

Sessions can be attended individually or all four can be attended as a series.

Session 1 – ReConnect. This first session of the webinar focuses on defining generations, generation gap, and the need for generational discipleship in your church. This is the “What” behind generational discipleship.

Session 2 – ReGenerate. This session focuses on the the research, the reasons, and the heart behind connecting generations from both a secular and spiritual viewpoint. This is the “Why” behind generational discipleship.

Session 3 – ReProduce. This session offers practical tips, strategies, and ideas to being connecting generations in your faith community and in homes in meaningful, lasting, life-changing ways. This is the “How” behind generational discipleship.

Session 4 – ReLease. It’s time to go and do! This session will provide a discussion and debrief around the questions, “What? So What? Now What?” and give you an starting point for incorporating generational discipleship as a meaningful part of your faith community. This is the “Who” behind generational discipleship at your church and in your home!

For More Information about how you and your church can participate in this webinar experience, fill out the Contact Form Below with “ReConnect” 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.

Flipping the Script on How We Do Church

If you have been around ReFocus Ministry and this blog for long, you know that one of our greatest passions is to see the body of Christ connected in community across ages and life experiences. Our stated mission is to “connect generations at church and at home.” This vision includes all ages and generations, married and single people, old and young, in meaningful relationships together.

In order for this to happen, the focus on programs and activities that are age or life experience specific often needs to shift towards offering opportunities that involve all members of the body such as service projects and Service Sundays, book studies that are not topical to certain ages or life experiences, exploring a book of the Bible together, and love feasts/family meals.

In other words, simply desiring an engaged and intentional community isn’t enough; there needs to be a tangible movement toward creating spaces of connection. And that seems difficult for a lot of congregations to embrace even if they agree that a connected, intergenerational community is what they desire.

So, why is that? Well, part of the answer is because of the current cultural experience we expect when we go to church. Most churches are designed to highlight and offer age-specific ministries and opportunties aimed at people in certain life experiences. Examples include but are not limited to Sunday school classes (by age or life experience), Singles and/or Marriage ministry, Senior Bible Study, Empty Nesters or Young Moms, Traditional and Contemporary services, etc.

To be clear, there is tremendous value in age-specific or life-experience specific curriculum and opportunities, but in most churches these types of experiences dominate the church programming and intergenerational opportunities tend to be a side option.

What if it was reversed?

What if the majority of what we offered would be open to all ages and life experiences while age-specific options would be offered but for limited times and focuses?

What if we crafted most congregational experiences with a focus on building community and working, learning and growing together, and offered special times and events focused on particular life experiences or age-specific topics?

It is in relationships forged in community that such things as older married couples mentoring newlyweds and single people learning from married people and married people learning from single people can take place. It is in serving with one another that we realized our strengths, call out gifts, find places of commonality, and the chance to face and overcome challenges together. It is in studying Scripture together that we can look to the child as Christ tells us to and for the child to look to us as we impress of them the commandments of the Lord as God calls us to do.

As with most things, the either/or argument is not a good one; we need both/and.

We need space for both types of experiences. And for the most part, I find that people tend to agree with me on that statement. However, where we start to construct that both/and matters. If 90% of our programming remains age-segregated with only 10% of our programming accessible as an optional add-on for creating intergenerational community, we’ve not really created space for relationships to grow.

But if we flip that script, if we build the relationships first and then offer the age-sensitive and life-experience specific options needs for optimum growth and development, those relationships will actually help to bolster and facilitate those programs.

It’s a lot easier for new parents to find a babysitter for a church event when they know and have relationships with everyone in the church. I

t’s a lot simpler for an elderly person to find a ride to and from a senior church event when they have a wide group of relationships with youth and young people.

It’s a lot more straightforward to find volunteers to work a Vacation Bible School when the people being asked know the kids, have relationships with them, and personally desire to see them grow.

When the community IS a community, the ability to offer age-specific opportunities becomes less about programming and volunteers and staffing and curriculum and more about the body looking out for one another and desiring the best for each other.

Throughout the Bible the importance of gathering together is emphasized (Ps. 133: 1, Heb. 10:24-25, Mt. 18:20, Col. 3:16, I Cor. 14:26). The church has always come together to worship Christ, recognizing that each person plays a role. It is clear that God did not intend for believers to live a solitary life but to be part of something bigger; the Church. How can our churches find ways to ensure that no one in our faith communities is living a solitary life?

We need to flip the script, build relationships first, and serve one another as a result. This is not a pipe dream; I have seen churches embrace this and their whole culture changed; it takes time, it takes a willingness to embrace change, but the results are what we all desire – a community of faith growing, learning, and worshiping together.


It’s Time To ReFocus

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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

How Can We Welcome Kids to “Big Church”?

Every now and then, I notice a trend in the questions, comments, and emails that we receive here at ReFocus and right now, this is the big one! Many churches are returning to worship with all ages included in the service for the entire time or for a portion of the time. And for many, that is new, which means this question is being asked: “How can we welcome children and youth into worship service times?”

When we talk about opening corporate worship times to all ages, we need to take into consideration the substance and structure of the service.  Frankly, a traditional church service format is often difficult for kids to engage with.  Kids are relational; services tend to be focused on the individual.  Kids like to talk; services tend to encourage silent reflection.  Kids like to move; services tend to lend towards sitting still..for a long time…

Before we launch into ways that we can work towards making church more welcoming to kids, we must first acknowledge this simple fact: If kids aren’t truly welcome, no strategy in the world will make them feel welcome.  If they are just seen as a distraction that the parents and congregation has to put up with, then they will probably be just that, no matter how many cool things there are to do. 

But if a congregation truly has at their heart a desire to welcome kids as an integral and participatory part of their worship, that heart will shine through in each tip that is employed.  It really does have to start with the heart and go from there. (For more on this, check out this article – Do Not Hinder: Welcoming Kids into Worship)

Here are some practical tips for making your church service a welcoming place to kids as well as adults while keeping the focus on Christ.

1. Welcome the kids, every week, by name – This may sound redundant, but there is much to be said for a personal greeting from a friendly face and welcome to the service.

2. Have a kids bulletin – Many churches use a bulletin for the service.  A fun way to invite kids into the service is to have a bulletin just for them.

3. Create Kid’s Activity packets – Make life a little easier for mom and dad and have kids activity packets with coloring sheets, crayons and quiet activities for the kids to use during the quieter service times.

4.  Provide space for parents with little ones – In the back of the sanctuary, consider putting some rocking chairs or space for parents to walk or bounce their littlest ones to sleep.

5. Engage the kids in worship – Kids love to be a part of something.  Give them the opportunity to help lead worship, hand out bulletins, take up the offering, participate in communion, help with the sound/lights, read Scripture, share a testimony – anything that let’s them know they are a vital part of the congregation.

6. Reaffirm your covenant – When children are baptized or dedicated in churches, often the church will recite or affirm a covenant with them to walk with them as a community of faith.  Every now and then, let the kids hear you re-affirm that out loud and with your actions.

7. Consider your traditional service line-up – Kids are used to things being pretty dynamic and fluid in their world.  The structure of service may be familiar to you, but maybe it’d be nice to change things up a bit.  Do the sermon earlier in the service or break it into chunks.  Do songs that have motions every now and then.  Collect the offering at the end instead of in the middle.

8. Give parents easy wins – The time in church is just the start of the conversation.  Help parents continue it at home by creating a “Faith Talk” insert for the bulletin with questions from the sermon.  Older kids can fill it out during church and parents/caregivers can use it to continue the conversation at home.

9. Engage the congregation – If having kids in service is new to your church, give the congregation fair warning, provide a time for them to meet the kids (put faces with names and parents with kids) and encourage a time of fellowship for all before adding the kids to the service.  Some churches start with once and month and grow from there.

10. Give kids a voice – You’d be surprised how much we can learn from children but often we still follow the “Kids should be seen and not heard” rule. Give kids an avenue to share what God is speaking to them by affirming to them that they can and do hear from God and giving them a space to share that.  A bulletin board where they can hang a picture they drew in service or a note they wrote about what they learned can create a space where the whole church can hear and affirm their hearts for God.

If you are curious about more practical ways to create holistic intergenerational worship environments, check out this article! And if you have ideas that have worked well for you, please share in the comments below. We are in this together, in every sense of the word.

A version of this blog was originally posted on this blog here.

It’s Time To ReFocus

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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

The Sacred Space of Story

Last week, I was privileged to accompany some youth on a local mission trip in and around Lexington, Kentucky. On Friday night of our youth mission trip, we offered our youth and leader participants the chance to tell their story. You see, our theme for the trip was “How Far I’ve Come” and we listened to those we serve share their story of how they ended up where they were in their story and how God showed up in their own journeys. It seemed right to offer our youth the same opportunity.

We offered space to let each one, as they desired, tell their story as we’ve heard others do. And they did. Some with tears. Some with relief. Some with reluctance. Some with hope. Some with all of those wrapped up in one.

But you know what was so incredibly special to me in those moments, something that has stuck with me since that night? After each person told their story and ended with saying, “And that’s my story,” the rest of the group immediately responded with “Thank you” and clapped for them. Think about that for a moment.

These youth recognized that they had been invited into a sacred space, into a personal life journey, into an individual’s story and their natural response was to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. Thank you for letting me into this sacred space. Thank you for showing that kind of love, the kind of love that would lay down one’s life (one’s fears, one’s hurts, one’s hopes) for another by opening up and offering a way in. It was by far one of the most moving moments for me, watching these young people and their leaders express gratitude for the opportunity to listen. They recognized the courage, the bravery, and the humility it took each one to share.

Storytelling is part of the human experience.  Before we had written text, traditions and faith were passed down orally through the generations in the form of story.. In a book called Family: The Forming Center, Marjorie Thompson says that we can connect our faith through story with the use of three forms of story.

  • Personal stories are about us, things that happened to us in our lifetime.  My kids absolutely love it when my husband and I share stories about “when we were kids.”  These stories are even more powerful when we connect them to how God has been real in our lives.
  • Ancestral stories about generations before us.  The Bible says we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witness,” heroes of the faith that have gone before us and left us a legacy in the form of lives lived and lives given for Christ.  I’ll never forget the first time my mom gave me a book by Corrie Ten Boom and I read about the powerful life lived by this Holocaust survivor who loved others and God so much she literally impacted millions of lives.  In fact, her impact on my life continues to this day.
  • Biblical stories about the characters in God’s Word. In the superhero-saturated environment kids are growing up in, why not help your kids explore the men and women of God in the pages of the Bible?  These faithful witnesses were far from perfect and yet God used them to change the world and even change our lives.

Why the emphasis on story?

Well, if we want to step back and look at the Bible broadly, to examine what Dr. Scottie May of Wheaton calls the “metanarrative” of Scripture, we are going to see a grand and beautiful rescue story . For kids, I use just 4 symbols to tell the story. The first symbol is a red heart, second is a black lightening bold, third is a brown cross, and finally another red heart. From that emerges this simple but beautiful story:

We had a perfect love relationship with God, sin separated us from the love and God used the cross and the sacrifice of His son to bring about a perfect love relationship with him again if we so desire.

I know that we debate the details of this story and we create denominations based on interpretations and translations and alliterations BUT this metanarrative is THE STORY that encompasses the Bible and this is the story we need to connect our kids to in meaningful everyday ways.

It’s not enough that kids know God is love; they must know that love is active and drawing them to Him in everyday, normal life because that is where faith and action live together.

The beautiful thing about story is that story invites us to be an active participant in what is happening. We are welcomed into a space and offered the chance to interact with someone on a deeply personal level. That’s what God does for us. And as those who desire to share the love of God with generations who have come before us and after us, that’s what we need to do for them.

Here are a few ways your faith community might consider creating space for generations to connect around story.

  • Legacy Videos: Take some time to sit down with older members of your church and ask them to record their story. It can be about a specific topic, a favorite memory, a general testimony – whatever is appropriate to your context. Then share those videos or clips of those videos with the younger generations or the congregation. Allow the stories to be heard.

  • Story Wall: Using a hallway in your church, choose a theme like “I experienced God’s love when…” and provide space for people to write/draw and post their stories and hang them up. Once you’re done, collect the stories in a small booklet and give them out at Christmas to your church family. If you did this once a quarter, you could have a beautiful collection of faith forming stories to share.

  • Progressive Dinner: This can be done one of two ways. First, you could host the whole dinner at your church and have people move to different tables or rooms with different host storytellers for each course (appetizer, entree, dessert) OR you could literally move an entire group from one home to another to hear stories and share a meal. Depending on the size and developmental needs of your church, you could come up with other variations. Key ingredients: A meal to share and stories to tell.

  • “One Time I…”: Have you ever noticed that kids LOVE to start their stories this way? Offer families the prompt of “One Time I…” and create space for parents and kids to tell their stories at home. This is a great family night activity, dinner table conversation starter, or car ride discussion. If parents are willing, create a place for them to text or post the stories their families tell and collect them to create a gift for that family at some point in the future.

Looking for a way to help parents capture those discipleship moments at home?

ReFocus Ministry is excited to offer “Everyday Discipleship: A Workshop for Parents/Caregivers.” 

This one-hour workshop covers an unlimited number of parents from your church to join us for a seminar including an Everyday Discipleship worksheet and follow-up resources for parents/caregivers focused on helping support and equip parents for faith formation in their homes.

This workshop has been widely attended by both ministers and parents alike with positive feedback on how it changed their perspective on discipleship in the home and got them excited about sharing their faith with their kids.

This webinar uses a Zoom format and is set up with an individualized code for your church only. All resources will be emailed prior to the webinar so you can distribute to parents with your regular communication.

Interested in learning more?

Fill out the form below with the Message: Everyday Discipleship and we will be in touch!


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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

“I just don’t have time for that!”

One thing parents often say to me when I am talking about discipleship in the home is, “How?”  The following explanation goes something like this:

We are so busy (tired, full schedule) that we are barely home (awake, together) and when we are, we just want to rest (relax, watch TV) not try to have church (do a family devotion, have a faith talk).

And after that is usually something like, “I know that’s not right but I just don’t even know where to start.”

I feel that, I truly do. Our family like many of yours also lives a busy life. Until recently , all of us, from the youngest to the oldest were full-time students, in five different schools, doing activities ranging from archery club to student newspaper to president of the student body. Our calendar is a veritable rainbow of appointments, events, and practices.

And the thought of having to add something else to it, especially something as intentional as a family devotional time or a faith talk, can feel absolutely overwhelming. 

It’s at this point though that it is tempting to say, “Forget it. The kids will just have to get the Jesus stuff at church.” And that kind of thinking leads to a relinquishing of our unique responsibility to raise our children in the faith as well as a willingness to overlook the very real fact that parents, not ministers, have the greatest influence on their child’s faith whether they are intentional about it or not.

May I offer another way of thinking?

Could it be that when the charge to “impress these things upon your children” was given in Deuteronomy 6, it wasn’t a just call to family devotions?  That perhaps what God had in mind was a bit more involved than that?

What if instead of adding another thing to our calendar, we sought for ways to intentionally invite Christ into what we are already doing?

What if instead of saying, “There’s no time to do more” we started saying “We are going to let God do more with our time.”

In that famous Deuteronomy passage, there are four discipleship moments mentioned: Getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, sitting down at home, and leaving the home (along the road). Throughout the world, these things happen every. single. day. We all wake up, we all sleep, we all sit, we all go.

I find it so interesting that these are the times that God said, “Talk to your kids about Me.” The most ordinary, normative moments of the day become extraordinary moments to disciple our kids in the faith.

So, back to that original question of “How?”

By simply inviting Christ into your calendar, into each moment, into each activity. It starts with just one comment, one reflection, one pause to turn our focus from the temporal to the eternal.

At a workshop I once did for family ministers, I had people write down some everyday activities they do during these four moments. For instance, what do they do each morning when they wake up? Then I asked them, “Now consider, how can you invite Jesus into those moments?”  A lady piped up, “I don’t think Jesus can join me while I brush my teeth?”  I challenged her to get creative and see if there was anything she could think of to invite Christ into that most ordinary moment.

A few months later, I bumped into her and she said, “Oh, I just have have to tell you. I took you up on your challenge. I had the idea to start writing Bible verses and encouraging notes to my family and using post-its to hang them on the mirror in the bathroom. Now every day when they brush their teeth, they are reading God’s word to them for the day. We all do it now. It’s become a ‘thing’ in our house. Thanks for pushing me to think about how to invite Christ in.”

Wow. Brushing teeth as discipleship. If there could be a more mundane, non-spiritual activity on the planet, I can’t think of what it would be. And yet, when Christ is invited into that space, it becomes extraordinary. 

What about us? Where in our daily lives can we invite Christ in?  Could we talk about a verse as we drive to soccer practice?  Could our dinner conversation open doors to discuss how God loves us and lives through us?  Could movie night be a chance to impress God’s commands upon their hearts?  Could God meet us as we tuck our kids into bed each night?

Discipleship at home isn’t about doing more; it’s about inviting Christ into what you are already doing.

It’s about impressing the heart of God into our children’s hearts in the everyday moments so that being a Christian isn’t about going to church or managing sin or even reading the Bible but rather about living each moment with hearts turned to God and lives reflecting His love. It’s about creating disciples.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time” Eph. 5:15, 16a (ESV)


Looking for a way to help parents capture those discipleship moments at home?

ReFocus Ministry is excited to offer “Everyday Discipleship: A Workshop for Parents/Caregivers.” 

This one-hour workshop covers an unlimited number of parents from your church to join us for a seminar including an Everyday Discipleship worksheet and follow-up resources for parents/caregivers focused on helping support and equip parents for faith formation in their homes.

This workshop has been widely attended by both ministers and parents alike with positive feedback on how it changed their perspective on discipleship in the home and got them excited about sharing their faith with their kids.

This webinar uses a Zoom format and is set up with an individualized code for your church only. All resources will be emailed prior to the webinar so you can distribute to parents with your regular communication.

Interested in learning more?

Fill out the form below with the Message: Everyday Discipleship and we will be in touch!


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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

Not Coming Back

In my line of work, it doesn’t take too long for me to recognize trends in the churches I work with and receive messages from and lately there has been one common thread: Our families aren’t coming back. More precisely, the parents aren’t coming back. And because of that, the kids aren’t coming back.

I predict that we will soon be entering a time where more and more kids will be coming back to church without parents/caregivers present or at least not present in the way they once were.

When we serve in family ministry, our goal is to equip and resource the home in ways that promote faith formation and spiritual discipleship primarily by parents and caregivers. But what happens when a child comes to our church and there isn’t intentional faith formation happening at home? How can we serve the families and the children in ways that honor them and still allow for faith formation to take place?

In addition to doing our best to engage the family and minister to the parents as noted here, we also want to make sure our church is an environment that is prepared to be welcoming and inviting to everyone.

Here are some practical ways your family ministry can minister to kids who come alone

Create a Place to Belong – There’s nothing worse than feeling out of place and awkward.  But there’s nothing better than feeling like you are a necessary part of something.  There are lots of roles that need filled in preparing and completing a worship service.  Finding a place for that child to serve can give a strong sense of self-worth. (younger kids can help hand out bulletins, help with greeting, be your “right hand man”; older kids can read Scripture, help with sound/lights, participate on worship teams, help collect communion)

Know Each Person’s Name –  Being greeted each week by name says “You are welcome here. We want you here and we are excited that you are part of our church family!” And, as best as we can, know the names of their family members so we can ask about them and how they are doing.

Talk about Home – Just because parents/caregivers may not be present in the church building, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the home with that child. In fact, kids may want and need support if they are trying to live out their faith at home. Ask about how they are doing, what’s going on in their family, be supportive and give them that space to share.

AssignWelcoming” Families – Before events like VBS that will likely bring more kids into your church, approach a few families and ask them if they’d be willing to “adopt” a child for the activities that day or week.  If your church has intergenerational services where kids attend, find families or even grandparents that will welcome the child to worship with them.

Always Invite the Whole Family  – If you are having a picnic, make sure to invite the whole family.  A word of caution – it can be hard on that child to have to constantly hand deliver invites or handouts that their parents might not want or show appreciation for.  If at all possible, make the contact yourself so that the child isn’t in an awkward position.

Appreciate WHO they are – Don’t let their identity be “The kid who comes without his/her parents.”  They are a beautiful and unique child of God.  A colleague of mine shared this with me about his own experience: “Once upon a time, when I was one of those kids (at church sans family), I appreciated being taken seriously on my own, not as a spare part (like so many singles do!)” 

Host Cross-Generational Events– Instead of all events being focused on family groups, host events where all generations mingle and fellowship regardless of age or relationship.  One family minister I know has round tables and the simple rules are 1. You can’t sit with anyone you are related to and 2. You can’t sit with anyone your age.  Her church has grown to love these times of intentional intergenerational connection and no one feels singled out.

As tempting as it is to press forward in an attempt to return to “normal”, we need to be careful not to bring our pre-Covid mentality into our post-Covid reality. We have all be formed and changed by the past year, kids most of all. Our homes and our lives look different. Let’s do our best to reach people where they are and share the love of Christ with all we have the chance to interact with, no matter what it looks like.


It’s Time To ReFocus

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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

Practical Ways to Connect Your Kids to Church

About a decade ago, a small group of young parents that we were a part of read the book Sticky Faith by Kara Powell, Brad Griffen, and Chap Clark. In this book, they looked at young people who had stayed connected to their faith post high-school and continued to demonstrate a strong faith in college. One major factor that they found was the importance of an intergenerational “web” made up of at least five adults who were involved in the lives of those young people.

Ever since reading that, my husband and I have made it a habit to randomly ask our kids if they can name five adults who they know love them and are praying for them. Often they can. Sometimes they can’t. When those instances happen, we have set about to find mature, Christian adults that we love and trust to connect with our kids. That has been through a variety of means including but not limited to asking someone to pray for our child, asking the youth pastor to meet regularly one-on-one with our child, and overtly asking a Christian adult if they will seek out a growing relationship with our child.

As a result of this intentionality, our children do have a rich web of intergenerational relationships that we have cultivated that surround them. They don’t all look the same or even respond in the same way to the adults that they have relationships with, but generally, when asked, they can name five adults who they know love them and pray for them.

I truly believe that intergenerational community is a major missing component in most churches as they tend to be separated by age and life experience with little room for generational overlap and space to form meaningful relationships.

Therefore, in addition to encouraging our churches to transition to more intentional, connectional communities with opportunities for generations to grow together, here are some practical tips for parents/caregivers who want to be intentional about finding those people for their kids and youth.

Dinner Together

One of the main ways we were able to connect our kids with adults was through inviting various adult members of our faith community into our home on a regular basis and not shooing the kids off to their own space but encouraging our kids/youth to remain at the table or in the living room as we visited. We’ve had grown adults jumping on trampolines, watching cartoons, and making homemade pizzas in our kitchen together with our kids and and those moments have forged opportunities for connection.

Pray For Me

I’ve spoken often on this blog about churches using the Pray For Me Campaign to connect generations at church through intercessory prayer. But even if your church doesn’t officially sponsor something, there is no reason you could not reach out to a few adults and ask them to pray for your kids through the academic year. The accompanying book is available for purchase on Amazon and would be a perfect way to invite a more intentional connection between your family and a person of prayer.

Extend the Invitation

If your child(ren) is involved in sports, community theater, dance, karate, etc. there is a huge opportunity for you to create space for connections and relationships simply by extending an invitation to others to join you in cheering your child on or watching them perform. I know from experience how meaningful it is to look out in an audience or the crowd in the stands and know that they are there for you because they care about you and for no other reason.

BONUS: Talk to your leadership at church and see if they could dedicate a space like a bulletin board for parents and kids to post their sports/extracurricular schedules so that older church members can make plans to attend. Imagine what a blessing that would be to all!

Ask the Question

If you decide to ask your child if they can name five adults that love them and are praying for them, be prepared to be surprised by some of the names your child might share. We never know the connections that our child makes in their own heart and mind to others and, once we know that connection exists, we have the opportunity to foster it into something that cultivates faith formation and healthy spiritual growth. It also helps us to know if there are any connections that we might find concerning and need to circumvent them for the protection and health of our child.

There are many other ways that we can help connect our kids in healthy, ongoing discipleship relationships with members of our faith community, but hopefully these four will be a good start to creating an intentional web of relationships for your children. Encourage the leadership at your church to consider providing ways for families to connect across generations both in and out of the church building and make the first steps in reaching out to those beyond your typical circle. The results can literally be life-changing!


Everyday Discipleship at Home: A Webinar for Parents

Looking for a way to engage with your kids around faith at home WITHOUT adding one more thing to your already busy schedule?

ReFocus Ministry is excited to offer “Everyday Discipleship: A Workshop for Parents/Caregivers.” This one-hour workshop covers an unlimited number of parents from your church to join us for a seminar including an Everyday Discipleship worksheet and follow-up resources for parents/caregivers focused on helping support and equip parents for faith formation in their homes.

This workshop has been widely attended by both ministers and parents alike with positive feedback on how it changed their perspective on discipleship in the home and got them excited about sharing their faith with their kids.

We will use a Zoom format with an individualized code for your church only and all resources will be emailed prior to the webinar so they can be distributed to parents before we meet.

For more information, send us a note using the contact form below!

We are excited to join you on your journey.


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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

Wonder, Community, and a Great Big God

The God I gave my kids was too small. Way too small.

He was wrapped up in stories that didn’t allow their minds to imagine His greatness, crafts that were easily discarded, and memorized verses that lacked the context of His vastness.

It wasn’t that I wanted to do that or even tried to do that. But the resources at my fingertips, the church programs I could plug my kids into, and the avenues I thought needed to be taken to teach my kids about God were just too small.

It was like trying to teach them about the world with a map of our state.

In 2013, our family moved from our home in Pennsylvania to seminary in Kentucky. We moved into seminary housing with other families who were attending seminary. These families were from all over the United States and more importantly, all over the world.

And suddenly, within mere months, the God of my children grew bigger and stronger and wider than they could have ever imagined. This God they had been taught about with a certain accent, a certain slant, and a certain view was suddenly met by a global expression of faith and experience that exceeded their understanding.

They were introduced to viewpoints and ideas that they had never heard. They watched their Kenyan friends worship alongside their Singaporean friends in vastly different ways that were nonetheless sincere and real. They interacted with elders and children, adults and teens, who all followed their God but in different ways. They heard theology debated, viewpoints expressed, and denominational differences discussed in a way that didn’t diminish their faith but opened it up wider. Hearing the same verses shared in different ways, listening to the Bible stories take on new meaning in different cultural contexts, and watching interactions with individuals that believed in Jesus differently than them but with fervor and grace that can only be described as holy offered my kids a much bigger God.

I often look at children in church and wonder, “Are we giving them a big enough God?”  If their world of imagination is so big, are the stories we tell them, big enough to fill the space?

A lot of the Bible stories I hear in church are just that…stories. They have a limited scope, beginning and end. They have limited heroes and villians like David and Goliath and Daniel and the lions and Jonah and the Whale.  They have limited life lessons like “Be brave because God is with you” and “Be obedient when God tells you what to do.”

“We tend to give kids superficial lessons in the Christian faith but we’ve found that superficial teaching leads to superficial Christians. The formula for teaching Scripture to kids has become a biblical value + a verse to back it up + a song to make it memorable”.

Phil Vischer

The power of intergenerational ministry, the strength of connecting to others outside of our own tradition or experiences, is that we see God more clearly. We may arrive at some different conclusions about how our theology is lived out, but our spiritual family gets bigger and our capacity to imagine with wonder and awe about God grows exponentially.

So, how can we let them wonder?
  1. Let them ask questions and don’t have all the answers – I know that is so hard to do, but sometimes the best way for kids to learn about God is to wonder aloud to Him (we call it prayer) and let Him answer them in His way and time.
  2. Ask “Wonder Questions” – There’s a great curriculum called Godly Play written by Jerome Barryman that incorporates asking “wonder questions” into the lesson. In other words, while the lesson is being shared, the teacher will say things like, “I wonder why the shepherd went to find the lost sheep? I wonder why the other sheep stayed in the pen? I wonder who is our Shepherd?”  I like to do this with my own kids, even my older ones, with normal everyday life situations. Things like, “I wonder why He made the grass green? I wonder why God made some things edible and some things not? I wonder if the birds are singing to Someone?  I wonder if God is speaking to his/her heart?”
  3. Connect them to other believers – Expand their spiritual family table in width and depth; invite older and younger people into your home, believers from other theological streams and traditions; believers from around the world if possible. Give them a breadth of faith family to love and grow with.
  4. Listen to them tell the stories – Oh, I love, love, love this one!  If you know your child, especially your young child, has heard a Bible story, ask them to retell it to you. There are so many times I’ve done this and instead of telling me word-for-word the “right” version of the story, they tell it with a little twist, a subtle plot change or a humorous undertone. What’s so cool about this is you get to hear who their God is according to how they heard and understood the story. And you get to underscore God’s love and goodness if they’ve missed it or even if they hit the nail on the head. 

There is a story I’ve often heard repeated where three blindfolded people are led over to an elephant and asked to guess what they were touching. One touches only the side and guesses the he is touching a leather object. The other touches only the trunk and wonders if it is a snake. Another touches the tail and knows it is an animal but is unsure exactly what animal it belongs to. But when they speak to one another and share their experience, they are able to put together an accurate picture and determine they are touching an elephant.

This is what happened to our family in seminary. We got to hear other’s experiences with God, with Scripture, with the church, and with their faith. And, putting it all together, we were given the gift of a clearer image of God and our imaginations of who God is and how He interacts with humanity grew.

As a result, my kids don’t necessarily embrace their faith in the same way that I do. They’ve come to different conclusions about what the Bible says, what Jesus would do, and how God would interact with the world. They’ve talked to a lot more believers about their faith than I ever did.

But as a result, their God is bigger.

Bigger than the stories. Bigger than their own experiences.

A great big God.


Is Your Church READY to Come 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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

The advertisements on this page are chose by the web host and do not necessarily reflect the views of ReFocus Ministry.

Kids IN Church, Not Kid’s Church

In a church I once served in during the Sunday morning sermon, the pastor asked the congregation if they knew the fruits of the Spirit.  The whole congregation started out strong but by the end, there was one group was still heartily reciting the fruit. That group? The kids. I couldn’t help but smile. I’m not sure how many others noticed, but the kids sure did. I had more than one come up to me afterwards and say something to the effect of “Miss Christina, did you hear us?  We knew all the fruits!”

It was in that moment that I became aware of something I think is vitally important for us (and by us, I mean, adults in church) to grasp.

Kids in church doesn’t mean church for kids.  

So many times I’ve heard concerns expressed that if children are brought into the larger church service, that service has to become all about the kids. But that’s actually opposite of the intention of bringing kids into the larger congregational environment.  The heart behind including the children isn’t to make it all about them, but to invite them into the communal context, to let them experience corporate worship and participate in the liturgy as active members of the body.

HERE’S WHAT INTERGENERATIONAL WORSHIP IS NOT.

Glorified Sunday School (with adults invited)

One common concern expressed from those who are uncertain as to how to include children in worship is that the church service will turn into a child-centric Sunday school hour with parents and grandparents observing. It’s an understandable reaction because in many churches the only time children are in the worship service is for a special program or performance that is geared towards them or is starring them. If that’s the only experience the adults in church have had with children in corporate worship, it would be reasonable to feel concern over what will happen if the kids are there more frequently. But that’s not what intergenerational worship is. 

“Big” Church

Another concern that is frequently shared is that kids are not mature enough to deal with certain themes that are found in Scripture. One video shared by a large, well-known church showed the pastor getting up to read the most provocative verses in Song of Solomon and a wide-eyed young man whose shocked mother puts her hands over his ears; the tag line reads, “Big Church is for Grown-ups.” Let’s be realistic – the vast majority of churches aren’t reading these few verses on a Sunday AND if they are, the pastor usually knows well in advance and can prepare parents for what will be shared.

Creating a worship service geared towards only one age group every Sunday limits the body of Christ and is never exampled for us in Scripture or in Jesus’ teachings.

To be clear, I am not opposed to age-appropriate ministry; there is a need for it and I am a strong advocate for children’s, youth, and various ages of adult ministry, but not to the exclusion of the including everyone in times of corporate worship.

Family Worship

Many churches host fabulous family worship events and experiences that encourage families to engage in discipleship, teaching, and worship experiences as a group. They are wonderful times for the family to grow together in Christ and with each other. However, most often these events are centered around the idea of family interacting and focusing on one another, worshipping as a unit and learning as a whole.

Intergenerational worship as a church body isn’t focused on the family but rather on the body of Christ as a whole. While families are together, they are not interacting with one another; rather they are joining their church family in worship and interacting with God and the body of Christ.

SO IF ALL OF THAT IT WHAT INTERGENERATIONAL WORSHIP IS NOT…THEN WHAT IS IT?

In his book, The Church of All Ages: Generations Worshiping Together, Howard Vanderwell states that intergenerational worship is “worship in which people of every age are understood to be equally important.”  It’s where age fades into the distance and the focus becomes the body of Christ and all its parts. And it’s not easy. Fundamentally, all of these different age groups have different developmental needs. Each age understands differently, interacts differently, and learns differently. Each brings unique gifts, generational experiences, and certain expectations. 

So, how do you navigate these waters in a way that is fruitful for everyone?  Ultimately it doesn’t come down to programming or ministry practices; it comes down to heartsWhen age becomes “invisible” and kids are no longer cute because they are performing and adults are no longer the real church because they are “big,” there is a place where intergenerational worship can happen.

There’s no perfect plan or way to do it “right.” It takes time and it takes work because in many ways it feels like a new thing (even though intergenerational worship is a very old thing). It isn’t going to look the same in every church. Some may have more hands-on interaction while others may engage in more traditional liturgical practices, some may be weekly services while others during specific days or service times.  But what will look the same is this – the whole church will be worshiping…together. 

“Congregations serious about intergenerational worship learn to value what every age offers. This includes being willing to learn together and including all ages in worship leading and worship content.” – Joan Huyser-Honig

What made that moment in church so special wasn’t that the kids knew the fruits of the Spirit. Sure, as the director of children and family ministry, that made me very happy. And yes, as a mom, it did my heart good to hear my girls recite Scripture.

What made it special was that in the middle of a normal Sunday sermon, a bunch of kids and a group of adults came together and shared a moment of mutual edification and communal growth.

THEY WERE TOGETHER. 

Is Your Church READY to Come 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 ReFocus

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

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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.

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