Work With What You’ve Got

Fuller Youth Institute

Today's guest blog post is from Lisa Evans, Student Ministries Director at The Highway Community Church in Mountain View, CA. Highway is part of our 2012 Sticky Faith Cohort.

As part of the 2012 Sticky Faith Cohort, we have heard countless examples of Sticky Faith, particularly stories of intergenerational relationships. It is encouraging and exciting; yet to be honest, initially it was also daunting.

Sticky Faith requires not just a new program, but a cultural and philosophical shift. It has the potential to change everything. But where do you start?

For us, trying to start from scratch was overwhelming. Instead, we assessed what we already have in place that could be “stickier” with some adjustments. In particular, our midweek “Family Night” was ripe with potential to include our entire biblical family: to be a Community Night.

First we determined the elements of Family Night to maintain: providing a home cooked meal, childcare, and programs for kids, middle school, and parents. Building on these, we introduced new elements to create a more intentionally intergenerational environment. For example, on the first night to mix people up we randomly assigned seating when they arrived and had a trivia game during the meal to facilitate table interaction. Tables included kids, parents of various ages, single young adults, and empty nester adults. We also offer a wider range of classes for adults to draw in all ages and stages.

Sure enough, now we have some intergenerational stories of our own:

  • The meal has traditionally been provided by a wonderful team of empty nester moms who are always laughing and talking in the kitchen. But this year when Eric, a single young adult, heard about Community Night, he got excited to use his love for food and cooking to serve the community. Tuesday Eric was found outside with these women, sharing life over a grill and endless pounds of chicken.
  • Josh, a high school sophomore, co-teaches preschoolers alongside Carolyn, a mother with grown kids.
  • Courtney and Kelly, high school sisters, lead elementary girl small groups. Sunday, these elementary and high school girls were equally excited to see each other, hugging in the church courtyard.
  • Furthermore, as a multi-site church the night is also cross-campus. Jason and Wayne, young adult men who attend the Palo Alto campus, now lead elementary boys’ small groups, investing in kids who go to the Mountain View campus.

Of course, only time will tell how these relationships may grow, and things are far from perfect. Creating an environment that is compelling to all is tricky, such as how to offer timing that is friendly to both families with early bed times and young professionals who work late.

Yet we see the beginnings of a more united community, across campuses, generations, and stages of life. We are hopeful that this is just the start to becoming a stickier community.

If you also are overwhelmed by the magnitude of Sticky Faith, how can you break it down to make change more manageable? What already exists in your community or ministry that has the potential to be “stickier” with a little creativity and intentionality?

Published Oct 01, 2012
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