Last week I had the honor of speaking at a 50+ conference. A student ministry guy at a conference designed for 50+ year old participants? Yep--it was awesome! I was asked to present some material related to Intergenerational Student Ministry published with the Fuller Youth Institute, www.stickyfaith.org (check it out). I had such a great time with these wonderful and visionary church leaders who are part of the CASA Network, www.gocasa.org (Christian Association Serving Adult Ministries Network). Did I say it was awesome?
I knew only one person at the event (hey Bob) and had not even made connection with the director of the conference when I sat down to listen to the first session--this is where the "alien-space" reference comes into play. I was drinking my coffee (as usual), getting comfortable with my surroundings and then it happened. The message being spoken was the same message being delivered at today's top student ministry conferences--students and young families need meaningful interaction with and mentoring from adult followers of Jesus--Intergenerational programming speak! I was thrilled at the synergistic (fancy way to say synergy) message I was privileged to be a part. We (student ministers) are not alone!
Here are a few of the things I kept hearing, in no particular order, from various speakers, teachers and panel participants (again, you can hear any of these things at the student ministry conference of your choice):
- The church "family," not just mom and dad, share a responsibility in the spiritual formation of children.
- Mature followers of Jesus have a responsibility to proactively seek ways to build relationships with today's students and young families.
- Intergenerational programming does not mean sacrificing age specific ministry but rather asking the question, "How can our existing programs be morphed to build relationships across generational boundaries?"
- Intergenerational ministry is NOT another program. It is a mindset.
I have spent a large portion of the last four years researching, rethinking, regrouping and re envisioning student ministry so that the flow of students exiting the Faith after graduation could be slowed and/or stopped. Some of the corresponding programmatic changes have been easy, others not so much. Still, through it all, the Intergenerational piece remains a part of all my programmatic discussions. Personally, I am so fortunate to work with a church family, leadership, peers, families and students that want to break down the generational silos. Even so, it was good to know we are not alone!
Question: Understanding that every age group needs "their time" together, what are some of the obstacles faced when attempting to program over generational lines? How have you worked through these obstacles?