The day 5-year-old Axel brought his plastic blue guitar to church, he walked to the front of the sanctuary, wove in and out of the praise team band, found a place to stand between the drummer and the guitarist, and began to play. While those who noticed Axel’s movements may have smiled to themselves, no one laughed or made a fuss.
Axel knows that his gifts are valued and that he belongs to God’s family, his church.
On the Sunday before 50-something Emily was leaving for a mission trip she spoke to the congregation about her plans. Then the pastor invited those who wished to do so to stand around Emily and to indicate by raising their hand if they wished to pray out loud. The first hand that went up belonged to another Emily, aged 8. “God, I want to thank you for Emily,” she prayed, “so many people have been blessed by spending time with her, including me. I know she will be a blessing to the people where she is going. Please bring her back safely.”
There are five generations between each Emily. Each has spent time with and nurtured the faith of the other. Both know they belong to God and to God’s family, their church.
As the Lord’s Supper set-up team was walking down the hall towards the church kitchen early Sunday morning, they noticed school aged sisters sitting on chairs and waiting for their dad to finish practicing with the praise team. They could have simply said “Hello, girls” as they passed by; instead they said, “Would you like to help?” And that’s why those who walked by the open kitchen door that morning saw a senior member of the church standing beside a 6-year-old on a chair whose face was deep in concentration as she squirted grape juice into communion cups while her older sister carefully arranged cubes of bread on a platter. The look on the girls’ faces later as they both participated in the Lord’s Supper and watched as the congregation ate and drank the elements they had helped to prepare? Priceless.
The sisters know they belong to God’s family; so do the elders who included them.
Intergenerational programs and curriculum are important—they can be the vehicles through which relationships are formed. But shaping a culture in which all ages belong is about creating a community in which relationships are formed as faith is nurtured.
The contents of the Intergenerational Church toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries were designed to encourage and support congregations as they do just that. When you open the kit you’ll find links to inspiring videos, practical ideas, easy-to-use assessment tools, foundational books and articles, free resources and more. Check it out today!
Because in God's family all ages belong.