When you look around your church who do you see? Are teens hidden in the deep confines of the building “doing church”? Is the next generation invested and involved? When someone looks at your church are they seeing intergenerational ministry?
When a church is truly intergenerational it means kids, teens and adults are visibly present and involved. What that means for you, the youth minister is figuring out how to advocate what it is you do.
So, what does that look like? How can that be done? Here are 4 moves you need to make to create a more intergenerational church:
HAVE STUDENTS SERVE ALONGSIDE OF ADULTS
Too many times we create service opportunities only for teenagers. While there is a benefit to that approach serving next to adults gives you at least two advantages:
- The teens meet adults with the same passions.
- It shows the rest of your congregation that there are no barriers with age.
Look at having teens serve in the ministries usually occupied by adults. Look at mission opportunities that are family friendly. Get everyone on board with intergenerational ministry.
ENCOURAGE THE PASTOR TO ADDRESS THEM IN THE MESSAGE
Your pastor has the most clout in your church. What he says matter. Talk with your pastor about addressing the next generation in his messages. He doesn’t have to give an entire message; however, he can reference teen relevant examples (i.e. stress at school when talking about margin). If teens feel included they’ll begin to engage and react positively to what’s being said.
CHALLENGE STUDENT LEADERS TO THINK OUTSIDE THE YOUTH GROUP
When you form a student leadership group the tendency is to look at how they can improve the youth ministry. Change the focus by challenging them to look at the entire church. Ask them questions like:
- Why does the church exist?
- Who are we trying to reach?
Get them to think bigger so that as they grow older they can make that transition. Invite them to be part of the movement to become more intergenerational.
GO BEYOND THE USUAL VOLUNTEER
The goal is to recruit young volunteers. People think because of the age proximity that they’ll have more in common. The reality is that you get a lot of parents. The truth is that you need young, middle age and older. This will show teens how to interact with people of different ages. It will give them a variety of wisdom.
When the adults in your church experience the next generation they’ll learn to invest in them more. You need to create those opportunities by bringing them to the student program. And you need to bring the student program to them. One of the signs of a healthy church is one where the past, present and the future are visible.
How else can you make your church more intergenerational?