All Churches Are Multigenerational. Few Are Intergenerational.

Fuller Youth Institute

Today's guest blogger is Matthew DePrez, Now Generation Pastor at Frontline Community Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and part of the 2011 Sticky Faith Cohort. This post is reprinted with permission from Matthew's blog.

About a year ago, a friend of mine asked why I choose the word "intergenerational" over "multigenerational" when I reference generations coming together in churches. That's a great question! I responded by saying, "All churches are multigenerational. Few are intergenerational."

The difference is simple, yet crucial.

Intergenerational ministry is like the shuffle button on iTunes. There's an "intersecting" of generations. 
They're not merely in the same room. They've walked across the room to talk to each other. They know about each other. They're deeply invested in each other's life. Intergenerational ministry is when a senior in high school prays for a senior citizen in a small group, or when a senior citizen calls a college freshman to let them know they're loved and missed. It's when each generation knows the other's name. Or when a crisis happens in a high school student's life, they know they can count on an adult to listen.

Multigenerational ministry is like the repeat button on iTunes. There's no intersecting of generations.
They're all in the same room, but each generation is avoiding each other (intentionally or unintentionally). They're walking around the room but not across the room. Multigenerational ministry happens when children and students are sitting in the same Sunday morning service as adults, but neither of the generations have talked to each other. Nobody knows more about the other generation than when they started the service. It's when they don't know about each other's passions and hobbies or their separate struggles, hurts, and pains. 

I don't want to diminsh the concept of being multigenerational. I was recently presenting on this concept, and a person commented by saying, "In some churches getting adults and students in the same room is a great 1st step." I totally agree! It's important that they're in the same room. All churches will, at some point, have various generations in the same room. It may be a potluck, sunday morning service, outreach event, funeral, wedding or even a student ministry program with adult small group leaders. It's not difficult to get different generations in the same room. The difficult task is to get generations speaking to each other. Deeply invested in the other generation's life. Accepting differences. Realizing similarities. Relying on each other and praying for each other.

As your church processes intergenerational ministry, are the different generations in your church walking around the room or across the room?

Read more thoughts about Intergenerational Ministry here.

Published Dec 07, 2011
Fuller Youth Institute

The Fuller Youth Institute leverages research into resources that elevate leaders, kids, and families.

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