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I often hear from church leaders who are interested in being more intentionally intergenerational in their approach to ministry and congregational life. But they represent just one ministry area, and they don't know where to start in breaking down the silos. This church newsletter article by Annette Ediger, the director of faith formation at Church of the Servant (COS) in Grand Rapids, is a great example of how to inspire and motivate members to step outside their comfort zones for the sake of others.

Every Labor Day Weekend, we go camping with my family. 29 family members in all, sleeping in tents, pop-up campers, and trailers; sharing all our meals together around a long row of picnic tables; swimming, kayaking, biking, and playing nearly every sport that ends with the word ‘-ball’; and, of course, huddling around the campfire at night, roasting marshmallows and swapping stories. 

I love this trip. Admittedly, I could do without some of the drama. (Did I mention that there are 17 grandkids under the age of 17?! And a brother who loves to talk politics?!)  But spending this time together as a family is priceless. I love seeing my dad take an afternoon nap in his camp chair with a grandchild in his lap. I love listening to my 16-year old daughter engage her uncle in another battle of wits.  And the glow-stick dance competition on our final night is nothing short of awe-inspiring. But most of all, I love that my girls ‘know’ and ‘are known’ by their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. 

I have that same desire for my COS family: I want the children of COS to know and be known by the teenagers, adults, and seniors that are part of our church family. At every baptism, we vow to love, pray for, instruct, encourage and sustain another member of our church family.  But it takes more than just worshipping together to complete this checklist of baptismal vows. Fulfilling these vows requires relationships. Fulfilling these vows requires us to put ourselves in a position where we can know and be known by the children and youth of COS. 

While I think that an all-church camping trip would be an unforgettable relationship-building experience, I am proposing something much simpler. This year, to provide us with an opportunity to know and be known by our church family members, I invite all of you to an intergenerational church school gathering in the café at 10 am on the first Sunday of every month. Infants to great-grandparents are invited to sit around tables together for a time of ‘playing, praising, pondering and praying.’ Leaders will facilitate these gatherings as we explore God’s story together while forming faith-nurturing relationships across generations.

For my family, Labor Day itself is devoted to packing up, cleaning up, and getting home.  The time for visiting and playing is over. This year, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, my 7-year old nephew Andrew deliberately went around to each aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent to hug them goodbye before he left. As he walked towards me, I was struck by the realization that I did not have a conversation with him all weekend long!  But he hugged me just as firmly as everyone else. Sometimes, just being there is enough to show someone that you care — and let him show that he cares, too.

First Sunday of every month. Be there.


I love this idea - thanks for sharing it, Jolanda! Was there a certain curriculum or focus for these gatherings?


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