Today's guest blogger is Keegan Lenker, youth pastor at Pasadena Church of the Nazarene.  Keegan's church was part of our 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort.

Over the last couple of years we have been very intentional in our approaches with Mission Trips. Two summers ago we took a trip to Guatemala with 62 people from our church of all ages. Last summer we took a trip with 42 people Nicaragua again with people of all ages.

One of the important components of those trips was to be intentional about our intergenerational connections. I did not realize how difficult this was going to be for us. We have become accustomed to segregation by ages in the church and because of that we do not know how to engage relationally with one another. People tend to think if all ages are in the same space together it is intergenerational in nature. This couldn’t be further from the truth because more often than not none of those ages are usually talking with one another.

In the months leading up to the trips, I would remind the people that we are in this together. I would even say they could get work done faster without the teenagers, but if they would take the time to teach the skills and be present with the teenagers, they would be offering more than just skills in building a park or church office.

After two months I got them to finally split up and sit together. We offered specific questions to get conversation going. About the time we left for the first trip, a few adults believed me and began to interact.

After the first trip life on Sunday mornings began to change. Students would call the names of adults from across the patio and run for a hug. People began to notice this change, even Vic, the general contractor on our work sites both years.

This year Vic couldn’t wait to go to Nicaragua again. He became known that as the guy that would buy ice cream everyday after work for everyone. It was one way he could relate with the kids. We shared small conversations about how great the students were and his deep appreciation for them.

The students fell in love with Vic too. When we came home this summer we were on a final summer trip together and I asked several what they thought about Vic joining our volunteer staff this year. My students thought it was the best idea! The coolest part? Vic is 66.

Over the course of two summers Vic has gotten to know 22 students from our ministry. Sitting down with him and inviting him to share his life with students wasn’t that hard because he’d already told me how great they were. It was affirming for him to be reciprocated appreciation from teenagers.

I’d say the Body of Christ is a bit more solid today than it was 30 days ago. We’re less fragmented today than we were 30 days ago. That’s another step in the right direction.

Published Sep 28, 2011
Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is also the coauthor of Sticky Faith ​and Deep Justice Journeys. A native Kentucky youth pastor, Brad now lives in Southern California with his wife Missy and their three children.

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