What Do We Actually Do in Our Intergenerational Small Group?

Kara Powell

At both YSPalooza this spring as well as the Orange Conference in Atlanta in April, I’ve had the chance to share about the intergenerational small group my husband and I started a few years ago.  Based on our Sticky Faith research, we invited a family in our life stage with kids our ages, as well as a couple ten years younger still having babies, and a couple who are turning seventy this year to form an intentional community. 

We are all loving it.  I’ve never been in a small group with such age diversity before but it makes it so real and rich.  

When I’ve shared about this small group, I often get asked, What do you actually do when you all meet?  Great question.  It’s different every time we meet (which is about every 3-4 weeks, although we stay in touch by e.mail and we’re all part of the same church and see each other regularly beyond small group).  But some of the principles that have guided our times together are: 

1.    We always start with a meal.  It’s an important time of fellowship for us, and while the meetings are usually held at our house, we take turns bringing the food.

2.    We always include the kids for at least part of the conversation.  Sometimes they’re only with us for a few minutes.  Other times, the older kids (i.e., fifth grade and up) have chosen to stay with us longer, and even for the entire time (while the younger kids tend to go outside or to the back of our house and play or maybe watch a video).

3.    We always have a conversation on a particular topic.  We’ve worked through books together, we’ve read articles together, and right now, we’re taking turns sharing our life stories and learning from each other’s histories. 

4.    We always share prayer requests.  Sometimes the kids join us to share prayer requests; other times it’s just us grown-ups if there are some issues we need to discuss without younger ears around.

5.    We always have fun.  We want all of the kids involved kids to look forward to “Viper” (we let the kids name it and that’s what they came up with), and they do.  Our kids are always asking, “When’s the next Viper?”

For those of you who have had great intergenerational gatherings, what else has tended to make them so significant?  We’d love to learn from your ideas.  


Published May 23, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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