Intergenerational Ministry

I was asked to do a workshop on intergenerational ministry for Salem Presbyery’s fall education day: A Day With Rodger (Nishioka). Below are some thoughts and notes from the workshop. Some things I can up with, some things were brainstormed during the workshops. Links I mentioned are at the bottom of the page.

It’s easy to think that IGM is simply dumbing-down church so that kids get it. But that’s not it at all. It’s another way for the church to be counter-cultural. In most everything we do, we are separated into age-silos: preschool, elementary-aged kids, youth, young adults, parents, middle-aged adults, older adults. There are value statements our culture places on each of these groups. It is our job as a church to recognize the value in each and every age group, for what they can teach and what they can learn, for the different gifts each person brings, for the unique insights that age, experience, or freshness brings to our interactions with our faith.

And of course, I would be remiss when talking about IGM with Presbyterians if I did not mention Theresa Cho. She blogs regularly on intergenerational ministry, and I am using many of her ideas. Check the links below for her site.

Intergenerational is not something churches do–it’s something they become.

– Sticky Faith (from Fuller Youth Insitute)


 learning from each other, multi-sensory, engaging, active, counter cultural, biblical, meeting age groups where they are, NOT dumbing down, story-sharing, fun, fellowship


 inclusive, engaging, welcoming, attract new folks, transformational, it’s fun


 Duh, everyone.


sanctuary, fellowship fall, SS rooms, outside of church… everywhere!


SMALL:  Activities that can be easily planned and executed; doesn’t upset the status quo (much); still not much flow between generations—mostly folks doing the same thing together

Examples: Children/youth adult choirs singing together, special programs, fellowship events (advent wreath making, greening of the church, Easter brunch, Halloween carnival/Trunk or Treat, festivals), blessing of the animals

 MEDIUM: Activities that take more thought and planning; start needing buy-in from session, pastors; more of a flow of ideas and learning between generations

Examples: Grandbuddies, children’s homily, developing/instituting rituals that all generations can share in; younger generations teach older generations; plan parts of worship to be more interactive. For more on these ideas check out this post.

LARGE: Moving from planning activities/events to changing how you do church; requires buy-in from all leadership and congregation; not a quick fix but will have long-term payout

Examples: Removing pews from the church and setting up a family worship space; having interactive, sensory worship stations instead of a regular service

Other ideas from the workshops: mission events/trips, Stop Hunger Now, rocking chairs in the back of the church, have the 5th Sunday be Intergenerational Day, Intergenerational VBS over Christmas holiday

A good question to ask to get the process going: “Since this is already good (or even great), what would it take to move to the next level and use this to become intergenerational?”


The What and How of Intergenerational Worship

Beyond the Rhetoric of Intergenerational Worship

Breaking Out of Ministry Silos


One response

  1. […] I lead on August 24 at Westminster Presbyterian in Greensboro as part of the Day with Rodger, we talked about a number of different ministry ideas. The other post was getting too long, so I’ll go into more detail […]

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