Ministering together the first step toward intergenerational community - Word&Way

Ministering together the first step toward intergenerational community

Churches often segregate their members along age lines. Sunday morning usually sees children in one wing in age-graded Bible study, with adults in another area and often split up age segments.


Three young children—(left to right) Dani, Mia and Arie—participate in planting a community garden. Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., involves people of all ages in planting, maintaining and harvesting the garden. (PHOTO/Courtesy of Second Baptist Church, Liberty, Mo.)

But many congregations will cross age barriers in ministry, often using it as the first step in becoming intentionally multi-generational.

Sometimes ministry causes a congregation to become multigenerational even when it didn’t intend to be.

The Baptist Home meets the needs of aging adults in Missouri, including independent living apartments, assisted living facilities and nursing care. Gerald Collier, chaplain at the Arcadia Valley campus, never expected to face multiple generations in the chapel each Sunday morning.

Although some residents attend a nearby church, many prefer remaining on campus. As residential attendance grew, the services attracted staff, and many began bringing their children, mostly teens and college students. One college student brings her boyfriend who isn’t yet a Christian.

Now Collier recruits students to participate through leading responsive readings, singing and other ministry. “The young people like to come,” Collier said. “I emphasize we are family.”

Charlie Brown began The Crossing Baptist Church in Mesquite 14 years ago in a primarily Anglo neighborhood. As the area started changing, a few Hispanic and African-American families decided to attend. Now the church is a blend of cultures, which—particularly among Hispan-ics—are family-oriented.

While crossing cultural barriers, the congregation bridges age lines. “We make sure we are getting to know people,” Brown said. “We make sure to see and hear everybody” in worship.

Monthly community service events draw members of First Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, Mo., together. Called First Serve, the ministry targets the community and has hosted a back-to-school block party and a celebration in a transitional housing unit, among other projects.

Church members of all ages participate in First Serve. “The ministry has done as much as anything to develop relationships and break down stereotypes,” Pastor Blake McKinney said.

Many congregations, such as First Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., set up all-church mission trips and encourage members of all ages to participate.