With holidays and family gatherings just around the corner, it’s a great time to consider using intergenerational approaches for faith formation. When planning faith formation activities, it can be easy to rely on separate classes for each age group; however, there are wonderful benefits to combining your groups for more enrichment. Intergenerational faith formation allows both the younger generations and the older ones to deepen their faith and relationships with one another.
Over the years many folks have looked at intergenerational gatherings as one-way streets, with depth and guidance passed down from adults to children. This limited view can lead to resentment and rejection of learning because each person’s input is not valued. It’s time to allow children and youth to flourish and provide just as much benefit and insight to the adults in our faith communities. What could child-like interest and exploration do for adults who are stagnated by well-trodden paths of their own faith formation? By looking at faith through different lenses, such as a youthful approach, adults may find new and inspiring ways to connect.
Youth and adults need different ways of growing from these opportunities. The youth might gain insight from older generations through historical information and the guidance of adults who have previously experienced things that young people are going through now. The potential for youthful curiosity, fresh insight, and ambitious technological knowledge can truly allow adults to grow and stretch in new ways. If all age groups are open to the dialogue and the time it takes to connect and build relationships, everyone can find a deeper approach to their faith lives. Faith development is not simply about God and us; rather, we are called to be in relationship and honor each other.
Various activities can open the conversation for these varied groups. When developing weekly curriculum or even one-time events, focus on icebreakers and pairing individuals for relationship building. Finding activities that highlight the skills and talents of each group means the other can learn new avenues to life and faith. Often, service projects are a great way for people of all ages to connect and develop strong bonds with others. Whether that includes letter writing, donation packaging, community cleanup, or anything your heart and mind can develop, joining youth with adults is imperative. Likely, individuals from each age group will gravitate toward spending time with those in their same generation. This means guiding and stretching people to seek out those they do not know as well could be challenging, but also deeply rewarding.
To learn more about intergenerational ministry, check out these Sparkhouse blog posts by Jessica Davis: