Intergenerational ministry is a core value in the smaller church that I attend.
We rent a school gym. A few families – parents and their teenagers – graciously give their time each week to unload the truck and set up chairs. Coffee is prepared by a gentleman in his later years of life; he wants a sign named after him above the “coffee corner” in our new church building.
Our “call to worship” – a psalm – is read frequently by those under the age of 10 to those in their 30s. We sing songs, led by musicians and singers across the age spectrum – from people in their early teens to their late sixties. During our offering, those between 7 and 70 pass the baskets around. Monthly we participate in the “prayers of the people,” where a member of our congregation – typically someone in their 20s or 30s – leads us in prayers for our world, our nation, our city, and our church. We have an excellent pastor and teacher who leads us well from the pulpit. He also equips and empowers young leaders with a call to ministry to preach, plus invites senior voices outside our congregation to preach. Young and old pray with and for each other at the altars.
And when the service concludes, our youngest walking members, aged two, push chairs to their resting place for the week, just as those in their seventies put chairs away.
Our church is not perfect; no church is. We are on a journey toward meaningful interaction between the age groups in our congregation, which is an important quality for a thriving and sustainable congregation in the short and long term. Hopefully these ideas help to spur some possibilities in your own context.
Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin
What are the qualities and characteristics of congregations filled with young people? This study, connected to the Fuller Youth Institute, addresses six core commitments: unlock keychain leadership, empathize with today’s young people, take Jesus’ message seriously, fuel a warm community, prioritize young people everywhere, and be the best neighbors. On top of summarizing their research, the authors provide countless stories and concrete tips to help congregations seeking to grow young.