Why is Intergenerational Faith Formation So Important?
Our culture is becoming increasingly age-segregated. The architecture and design of communities and neighborhoods tend to isolate families. Americans today have even fewer friendships than their parents or grandparents did. There are many factors contributing to this trend: individualism, mobility, grandparents living at often great distances from their children and grandchildren, and age separation of children, youth and adults in education and activities. In today’s world there are so many other activities competing with church in people’s busy lives.
Intergenerational faith formation helps to build stronger faith in families, and these faithful families produce service-oriented children who are more likely to carry the practices of discipleship into their adult years than children and teens who participate without their parents. Intergenerational faith formation also builds families of faith by providing opportunities for seniors, adults, teens and children to talk about the mysteries of faith, to experience prayer and worship together, and to serve those in need shoulder-to-shoulder. When people are given the chance to experience faith formation together, they are more likely to continue that learning at home and throughout their life.
Faith formation is a lifelong task. Passing on the faith and deepening of faith are two of the goals of Intergenerational Faith Formation. Bringing all ages together to learn more about their faith has the benefit of helping the whole congregation see itself as a community of cooperative learners. Together we can more clearly see God’s presence and providence in everyday life.
What is an Intergenerational Church?
Intergenerational churches welcome all age groups as they participate in the life of the church. They empower the various generations to communicate in meaningful ways, interact on a regular basis, and serve together regularly. Truly intergenerational communities welcome children, emerging adults, recovering addicts, single adults, couples, widows, single parents, teens whose parents are not around, the elderly, those in crisis, empty nesters and struggling parents of young children into a safe but challenging place to be formed into the image of Christ.
Benefits of Intergenerational Faith Formation
The power of Intergenerational faith experiences is that they nurture spiritual growth and development in both adults and children by learning the same subject at the same time.
Among the many benefits are:
- A sense of belonging/community
- Support for families
- Genuine, sustained relationships
- Greater involvement in church life
- Deeper faith
- Contagious excitement, enthusiasm, joy and energy
What does Intergenerational Faith Formation look like?
Intergenerational learning creates a caring environment—one of warmth, trust and acceptance—conducive to all ages. It promotes group participation, activities, and discussion.
- Shared Experiences
- Worship, Drama, Videos, Choir, Movie Night, Outings
- Parallel Learning
- Opportunities to learn, ask questions, challenge, encourage and grow in faith on a deeper level
- Active Participatory Learning
- Experiential, multi-sensory, and interactive experiences
- Interactive Sharing
- Faith sharing, personal experiences, and real-life application