Intergenerational Community Building

What creative opportunities might God be preparing for intergenerational community with your church?

By Cara Garrity, Development Coordinator

In GCI we see a well-balanced Faith Avenue being expressed through community building, connect groups, and cross-generational care. When it comes to community building, it is easy to focus on building community with our peers. While it is meaningful to gather and build close community with peers, it is also meaningful to build an intentionally intergenerational church community.

Intergenerational community will take on a unique flavor in each church setting. Here are some questions that may help you explore what intergenerational community can look like in your church.

Take some time to observe, consult, and discern.

  • What is the state of intergenerational community with your church?
  • What opportunities with unexplored potential already exist within your church to build intergenerational community?
  • What ideas do church leaders and members have for intergenerational community building?
  • What opportunities and ideas align with what God is doing in your local church?

Be intentional about the leadership of intergenerational events.

  • What would it look like to have an intergenerational team of leaders plan a community event?
  • What would it look like to include youth in the planning of intergenerational events?

Because the Avenues do not exist in isolation from one another, consider the opportunity for intergenerational community building through participation in the Love and Hope Avenues.

  • What would it look like to have intergenerational teams serving together in the Love and Hope Avenues?
  • How could this meaningfully contribute to intergenerational community within the church?

Allow me to share one example of an intergenerational community event that I participated in with my local GCI church. As we developed the local young adult ministry, we asked ourselves a number of questions. Two of these questions were “what do young adults need?” and “how can we meaningfully connect young adults with other generations in our church?” We observed that there were several seasoned adults in our congregation who had a desire to pour into younger generations and who were well practiced in practical life skills. We also observed that these practical life skills were some that young adults expressed they lacked experience with. The intergenerational event called Adulting 101 was born. This event created a space for seasoned adults to share knowledge and skills such as sewing, crafting a resume, changing a tire, and preparing taxes with young adults. This event was more than a life skills class. It was a creative, practical, and meaningful way to facilitate intergenerational community. To this day when I have questions about any of these topics, I know that there is someone in my church community who is ready and willing to help. That is a fruit of intergenerational community. What creative opportunities might God be preparing for intergenerational community with your church?

Here are some ideas to consider as you get started:

  • Intergenerational game nights
  • Church BBQ/picnic/potluck – spice it up with activities/games that promote intergenerational community
  • Team competition event with intergenerational teams (think church Olympics event)
  • Storytelling/testimony sharing event with intergenerational participation
  • Intergenerational talent show
  • Fun holiday celebrations and activities
  • Informal intergenerational activities or field trips (apple picking, hiking, museum tour, aquarium, etc.)
  • Intergenerational connect groups (Bible studies or interest groups such as crafting, musicians’ group, gardening club, board game enthusiasts, etc.)

Remember that an idea is good only if it facilitates participation in what God is doing in your midst. Building intergenerational community is not a plug and play of event ideas. Take your time to discern, try some things out, reflect and discern some more, be open to trying new things, reflect and discern, and repeat. Participate in consistent rhythms of intergenerational fellowship.

My prayer is that you would be richly blessed as you participate in a robust intergenerational community as a witness to our inclusive and loving God who brings all people into unity.

One thought on “Intergenerational Community Building”

  1. “intergenerational community”—a vital important aspect of what it means to be church.I have been pleading for that approach for many years. It is part of what it means to be a healthy church. While we may have “special groups/needs” in our congregations we ought always remember that, although diverse, we are ONE family. Thanks Cara for this contribution.

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