“Intergenerational Ministry occurs when a congregation intentionally brings the generations together in mutual serving, sharing or learning within the core activities of the church in order to live out being the body of Christ to each other and the greater community.” Allen & Ross (2012) Intergenerational Christian Formation
No matter what I do, I cannot find a better summary of what intergenerational ministry can do is this quote from Holly Catterton Allen and Christina Ross. Their seminal book Intergenerational Faith Formation has been the basis from which ministry has flowed for the last 10 years.
Intergenerational ministry is not new. In fact, intergenerational gatherings have been a feature of faith formation and worship for centuries. The rituals and celebrations of the Jewish faith are centred around telling the faith story of the ancestors to the young people and the young people have a specific role to play as well. The early churches would have gathered in homes, with extended families, children, servants, and visitors all hearing about the wonders of Jesus and sharing in the breaking of bread.
Over time we have separated and professionalised ministry and this has become particularly noticeable in children and youth ministry. These areas have done good work, amazing work, and many people attribute their faith development from these ministries but strangely, most of those young people do not find their way into our churches, into leadership or into a space where their experience is welcomed and valued. At the same time, many of our much older people find themselves increasingly isolated and alone as they are unable to serve in the ministry they used to. This contributes to grief and even a spiritual faith crisis as people have to relearn what it means to be a person of faith when they can no longer serve as they might have once done.
Intergenerational Ministry is the idea that when we gather, together, all ages and stages of faith, as the people of God, faith formation and connection happens in a deep and powerful way. When scripture is learned together, when we pray together, break bread together, share our faith together we learn and grow in our faith and community.
Intergenerational ministry is more than an all age or family service. It is not performative or something to observe, a style or a trend. It is whole hearted worship with everyone contributing as they wish and all voices being valued.
If you are interested in exploring intergenerational ministry in your context, please contact the Intergenerational Ministry Facilitator.