by Greg Priebbenow
In many parts of the world today, and for centuries in the ‘western hemisphere’, intergenerational families and communities were considered the norm.
The church is one place where generations can still come together, but we cannot assume that people of different generations have sufficient natural opportunities to relate to each other beyond the limits of Sunday morning. Many congregations have actually made generational disconnection worse through agesegregated programming. Children and youth are sent off to separate activities after worship. Adults meet for various purposes during the week but little focus is given to connecting with other generations. Congregations have become part of the bigger problem. Changing our focus to a cross generational approach is not about adopting a new program; it is more about adapting existing activities with a new perspective. We want to encourage people from at least two generations to intentionally gather for the same activity in the name of Christ, interacting in ways that reflect mutual respect and appreciation. There can be formal and informal aspects, but it is much more than merely having two generations share the same space.
A cross-generational approach to the practice of faith has deep and biblical theological roots. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 speak of the ‘body of Christ’: each person is uniquely gifted to serve other parts of the body, regardless of age or stage. God gives his people gifts in the form of each other.
A cross-generational focus provides for those people who do not slot into agespecific programs and those who may not have natural opportunities for intergenerational contact. A cross-generational focus provides connection into a larger ‘family’, in which all are welcome and where those without biological connections can live out their calling to be faith brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to others within the congregation.