by Steve Burger
No discipleship ministry whether it’s focus is children, youth or adult, is complete without strong intergenerational elements. I have believed this for the whole of my 23 years of ministry, have been a strong proponent of it for the last 12 years while serving in the Department of Christian Formation. I am not saying there is no place for peer-based ministry. But what I am saying is that every peer-based ministry requires intergenerational components. Here’s why:
1. The church is made up of all generations
- The promise of the gospel is for children
- All generations were present as Jesus taught
2. As a church we are called to interact with each other
1 Corinthians 12:14-22
- One Body, many parts
- All needed
- All indispensable
3. Children are not to be excluded
Matthew 18:2-5 and Mark 9:36-37
- Jesus welcomes children into the kingdom
- Children reflect how we are to enter the kingdom
4. Children and Youth as well as adults can engage in the ministry of the church
John 6:9 and 1 Sam. 3:1-19
- A child provides the means for Jesus miracle
- A child serves as God’s ambassador
- A teen answers God’s call to help usher God’s presence into the world
- Senior adults blessed and heralded Jesus as Messiah.
In addition to this, we cannot fully be the church unless we are the church together.
1. There can be no relationship, no unity, no identity as a body if we are always separated.
2. Parents cannot be fully prepared to serve as mentors unless there is opportunity for them to minster and worship alongside their children.
3. All generations have gifts to offer the others. This means the need for presence, engagement and voice.
4. Shared experience through ministry together results in shared story and shared identity as families and as Christ’s people.
5. If we wonder why we are losing generations, it is because we have isolated the younger generations and they have no voice and one to relate to among the older generations.
The good news is that there are a growing number of churches living into this important truth. And it will take all of us to do this because we have generations of separation to overcome. God has provided us a great opportunity to learn from each other as we move forward.
This is not easy ministry. It involves swimming upstream against the culture in which we live both inside and outside the church. Nevertheless, I believe this is the direction God has always called us to. It’s a call back to the future. Because recapturing our roots intergenerationally gives us hope for the future.
I hope you will take the time to share both the joys and struggles of your intergenerational journey…