In the first part of this article, we talked about the beauty and benefits of the intergnerational church. If you haven’t already, go back and read that here:
There are so many ways in which youth ministry benefits from intergenerational time within the variety of ages in the congregation. So, how do we make sure our young people are included in the larger community?
As a Congregation, Intentionally Plan Intergenerationally
Take a look at the church calendar and ask, “How many of our church activities are age specific?” Certainly it is okay to have some age specific activities, but how many of the activities are specifically designed to be intergeneration? Do the youth feel included? Are they an active part of the activities or merely along for the ride?
When you plan the events for the coming year, plan for intergenerational interaction to be intentionally included.
Worship Together, but Study Together Too
Having all ages together in worship is beautiful and gets right to the heart of what the church is: the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd.
However, Sunday School has largely become entirely segregated by age. There certainly is a place for such age specific instruction, but it is also well worth the time and effort to have opportunities for intergenerational study to take place.
How can this happen?
One way we have done this is to take a few weeks of the Sunday School year and included the middle School and High School students with the adult class. We have found that having a study in which small groups are formed for discussion is a great way to make sure all ages participate in the discussion. In this way our youth learn from the adults, but the adults often learn from the youth as well. For those youths who are so equipped, consider having them lead the discussion in the small group (while having an adult ready to help if needed).
Planning and Leading
Who does the planning for VBS, Day Camps, and other ministries and activities?
More than likely the adults do the planning. However, including the youth in the planning of such events can be quite beneficial for them and for the church. They often have ideas we wouldn’t otherwise consider and their time as a participant in things like VBS wasn’t that long ago, so they might just have some excellent insights on what is working and what isn’t working.
Including youth and giving them age appropriate responsibilities gives them ownership in the events and prepares them for taking on greater responsibilities in the future.
Let Youth Serve
Do you have a tech team? Properties committee? Altar Guild? Ushers?
Rather than waiting for our youth to begin to serve when they become adults, plug them in at an early age. Let them serve side by side with adults. Give them important tasks and adults who can help them to navigate and do the tasks well.
This can be incorporated into the confirmation process, as confirmation should be about more than just knowledge and should help shape and strengthen our youth for the fullness of life as part of the body of Christ.
If you’re looking for some simple ideas for where to start with activities for all ages, here’s a start. Most of these are intended to not only be activities, but activities in which members learn about one another and can find common interests that might lead to further conversations and closeness.
- Have an art show at church and invite artists of all ages and abilities to contribute a piece. The youth could organize the art show in conjunction with your outreach or stewardship team.
- Field Day with activates for all ages: Play games together! Have your youth figure out ways to make sure there are activities for all ages.
- Cornhole Tournament: Simple, social, and something just about anyone can be a part of.
- Bring Your Best Meal: Have everyone bring the one thing they specialize in making; it could be as simple as macaroni and cheese or as complex as you’d like.
- Prayer Evening: Have lists of things to pray about. Consider having small groups pray together. Prayers can include the things listed, but also anything happening in their lives. It never hurts to follow up with some food!
- Scavenger Hunt: Break up into teams, but try to have the teams represent various age groups. You can easily incorporate a service aspect into this as well.
- Deliver diapers to a women’s shelter or food to a food pantry
- Visit a shut-in member
- Buy something from a local business and share picture on social media
- Make and deliver thank you cards to the local police department or fire department (make sure to call ahead and ask if this would be okay)
- Ask an older member if they would be willing to host your youth group and answer some questions about how faith has played a part in their lives.
- Host a Christmas party in which the youth serve widows a meal
- Be creative and figure out how you can connect young people and older people in your context!
Finding ways to incorporate youth into the larger ministry of a congregation isn’t difficult, but it does take intentionality to make it happen. And while it does take some effort to make this happen, over time it becomes part of the culture of the congregation and the blessings are countless.
Let us be, young and old together, the church of today.
 Smalcald Articles: XII, 2