Monday, January 2, 2012

All churches are multigenerational. Few are intergenerational.

This is such a great distinction. Thank you, Fuller Youth Institute, for finding this blog post by Matthew DePrez. As he describes it, here is the basic difference between a mulitgenerational church and an intergenerational church: an intergenerational church is one where people have meaningful relationships across generations, and a multigenerational church is one where people from each generation exist peacefully together. He gives a few outcomes of each type of church; the intergenerational church know names and bits about one another's lives, pray for each other, and can count on one another for interaction and growth. Multigenerational churches participate in the same services and church functions, but rarely have more than cursory interactions with those outside of their age group.

The obvious implication is that it is better to have an intergenerational church. But, how to build one is a more puzzling question to me. Encouraging interactions and meaningful relationships across generations seems messy, confusing, and risky. It very well might be, but oh so worth it. How do we encourage conversations and interactions? It seems to me that in my own church generations are often in settings that are conducive to such interaction - children's ministry, youth ministry, missions trips, choirs, events, etc, but that it is hard to take those interactions and make them something relationally real.

How do I step outside of my comfortable young adult bubble and learn to get to know someone older than me? How do I navigate a real relationship with someone who is not a peer? What common ground might we have? And how do we get below the surface of Sunday morning greeting time so that we can genuinely minister to one another?

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