25 ideas to bridge generational gaps
Last week we chatted about why it is important to cultivate connections across the generations. Today here are some ideas of how to foster these connections. Please add your ideas to the comments. I’ve grouped the ideas into three areas
- Sub-groups (These are groups like youth group, senior’s group, children’s ministry, small groups etc.) - The challenge here is to cross pollinate.
- Church – The challenge here is to involve, involve, involve as many different generations as possible.
- Community – that is outside the walls of our church. The challenge here is to bring along other generations with us.
Sub-groups – Cross pollinate
- Invite a senior into youth group to talk about what it was like being a teenager when they were younger. Invite them to share how they came to know Jesus
- Invite pairs of seniors to regularly come in and do snack at youth group or in your children’s ministry
- Have the Women’s/Men’s Mission Group invite in youth to talk about their plans for Tidal Impact (or other short term mission trip) before they go and then to come back and share their stories when they return.
- Have the Senior’s Ministry do something to bless the youth in the church. E.g. Donate money for their summer events, make a special treat...
- Have the Youth do something to bless the seniors in their church E.g. Make little packages of road salt to keep in their pockets in winter, make cookies for Valentine’s day…
- Invite your sub-groups, of different generations, together for a game show night. Provide a variety of trivia questions that will be a hit with different generations.
- When the youth are doing a service project, invite another generation to come in and work on it with them together. E.g. Food drive, making blankets for the women’s shelter, gift bags for the men’s shelter…
- Invite different ages into leadership in these sub-groups. Do your youth leaders and children’s leaders represent the different generations – grandparents, parents, young adults, youth…? How could it become more diverse?
- Invite a group of children into an adult ministry to share the Bible story they’ve been studying via song, dance, drama or puppets.
Church – Involve, involve, involve
- Invite kids to worship freely during your service. Have musical instruments for them to play during worship time.
- If you don’t have a children’s program during the service at your church, involve children in the service – allow them to share prayer requests, ask them questions during the sermon, have packets prepared with games and colouring on the same topic as the sermon and/or having interactive elements (sculpting a response, painting a response…). Even if you do have children’s ministry in your church turn some services each year in to truly intergenerational corporate worship involving all ages.
- Give youth/children opportunities for leadership in the church – greeting, taking up offering, running the sound equipment, running the computer, leading worship, leading prayer, leading in ministries, giving input on boards, coming up with their own projects and executing it.
- Create mentoring opportunities across the generations. You can use Tidal Impact or Mission experiences as an opportunity – invite everyone going on the trip to have a mentor who they meet with before they go to help them prepare and then to share with when they return.
- Mix small groups and Sunday School classes across the generations occasionally or all the time.
- Turn your “Christmas pageant” into an intergenerational family experience where everyone explores the meaning of Christmas together.
- Make sure all the different generations are represented from the platform/stage at your church.
- Include all ages in your sermon and devo illustrations. Are your examples and illustrations in sermons giving positive examples from all the generations?
- Enable other generations to get to events that are designed to help them grow in their faith. E.g. How can the Senior’s group make sure youth get to Springforth and Tidal Impact? How can the youth group encourage their Mom’s get to the Women’s retreat?
Community – Bring along
- Invite different generation to serve together in your neighbourhood – spring clean-up, raking leaves, shoveling, planting gardens, stacking wood, food drives…
- Do visits together – bring along a child or youth when you go to visit someone in their home or the senior’s home.
- Take along a young adult when you go to get your groceries, especially if they are a college/university student they will appreciate the ride and help. You might even pick-up new snack and meal ideas from each other.
- Intentionally make your churches short term mission trips intergenerational.
- If you (personally) serve somewhere in the community (food bank, coaching, library…) who, from a different generation, could you invite along to come with you?
- Encourage people to get to know each other outside of Sunday services – introduce the different generations in your church community to each other by having a “who’s coming to dinner” Sunday. Have people volunteer to feed people in their home that Sunday, without knowing who will be coming. Have others sign-up to go and eat dinner somewhere. Then mix and match people and generations to share a meal together that Sunday.
- On your churches facebook/twitter account, ask interactive questions that invite response from a variety of generations.
What other ideas do you have to encourage connections across the generations?
Need more ideas? Here's a list of things being done in children's & youth ministry that are re-imaging Church for all of us. Look at the bottom of the post: What is the role of children and youth in the renewal of the Church?