Building stronger congregations
Unlocking the future …
Do you want church health and growth? Do you want young adults to stay in church? Do you want to reach the least, the lost and the lonely? Do you want a church united and stronger than ever?
Church revitalization takes more than slick programs, dynamic preaching, or impactful worship experiences. Churches can invest in excellent facilities, use the latest audio-visual technology, employ dedicated staff, or institute church growth principles, yet still see declining attendance, half-empty classrooms, and lacklustre involvement.
Hundreds of conferences, sermons, and books have identified and promoted church growth principles and practices. When I was a church planter, our dedicated leadership team devoured every church resource we could find. We applied the eight universal principles for natural church growth, prayed, and envisioned a thriving, Jesus-glorifying, community-blessing, spiritually-maturing congregation. Yet the health and development of the church plateaued.
Bridging the gap
I’m no longer a pastor. While I’ve had glimpses of what might be, I know there’s more and want more for the local church. In recent years, I’ve gained a fresh perspective. I’m now convinced that intergenerational ministry (often ignored by the church growth movement) is indispensable for the blossoming and blooming of local faith communities. American researcher Kara Powell says, “The number one reason why young people are walking away from their faith is a lack of intergenerational worship and relationship.”Intergenerational ministry is indispensable for the blossoming and blooming of local faith communities. Click To Tweet
Here are three pragmatic reasons why intergenerational ministry is essential for unlocking the future revitalization of the church:
It embraces more people
Intergenerational ministry creates connections. When a church intentionally emphasizes relationships between age groups and purposefully harnesses people to worship, witness, and work together, it appeals to and embraces more people.
It equips more people
Faith formation relies on the interaction of different generations. Regardless of age, we’re all teachers and learners. When young and old learn from and care for each other, they’re better equipped to tell more people about the works and wonders of the Lord.
It engages more people
People marginalized because of their age may leave the church. Intergenerational ministry hears, sees, and includes children and seniors. When a church meaningfully welcomes and values everyone equally, more people get engaged in its mission.
Unlocking the future …
We’ll fail to revitalize the local church if we think of intergenerational ministry as an emphasis or strategy – something we try out. Intergenerational ministry isn’t a temporary alternative. It’s not the next best thing in church methodology and organization. It’s a culture shift, a biblical value, something we become because we’re convinced it’s what God wants the church to be and do. So, to build up faith communities, we must embrace intergenerational ministry holistically and permanently.Intergenerational ministry is a culture shift, a biblical value, something we become because we’re convinced it's what God wants the church to be and do. Click To Tweet
As a Uniting Church in Australia document states: “Intergenerational ministry is relevant for the whole life of the whole church. It’s a core value (something fundamental to who we are and who we are aspiring to be), an attitude or disposition (the way we approach “other,” in this case, those who are different from us in age) or as part of our philosophy of ministry/ethos (the way we do the things we do). It can encompass all aspects of our life together.”
How, then, do you initiate intergenerational ministry in a way that revitalizes your church? And what do you need to be and do to get your congregation involved?
While there’s no “one size fits all” answer to these questions, there are insights and practical suggestions that can help you develop context-specific intergenerational ministry. Use the links for the related articles below to explore the next steps …
© Scripture Union, 2024