How can I create more intergenerational connections in my ministry without changing everything?

Brad M. Griffin

Often when we share about intergenerational ministry in Sticky Faith seminars, leaders’ first responses center around making major changes in their youth ministry programs and structure.

While that’s gutsy, it may not always be the best place to start.

Earlier this year I spoke at a church in Texas on Sticky Faith. This fall the youth pastor, Cory Liebrum, shared a story with me about one way their church has been inspired to foster Sticky Faith.

Cory shares that over the summer their high school ministry took a mission trip to Chicago. Ahead of time they invited older adults in the church to “adopt” every student and adult who went on the trip. These adults prayed for the team members for the month leading up to the trip and throughout the trip itself. They also wrote their prayer partner a letter that was given to them by the leaders in the middle of the trip.

All of that was great. But here’s something more.

Cory writes:

We had a "reunion" the week after we returned from Chicago and invited all the students and families to our youth building for dinner - Chicago style pizza - and time to watch a recap video. We gave students an opportunity to share what they discovered and learned on the trip. We ALSO invited those older adult prayer partners to be a part of that night.

What I didn't expect was the response from the older adults. They got up and shared how important the Chicago trip was for THEM and how proud they were of our students that they represented our church and Jesus to a group of people these older adults would never meet.

It was - BY FAR - the best thing we have done in our student ministry in a long time.

I so appreciate Cory sharing this story, because it represents a small effort to connect generations around something their church was already doing. Even though they didn’t make a huge program change, tapping into the potential of their existing structures (high school summer mission trip) yielded an incredible result. They’ve been able to identify this as a “small win” that now opens the door for more connection across generations.

How have you tried to give current programs and structures an intergenerational “twist”, and how has it worked?

Published Nov 19, 2012
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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