We started as old and new friends for a Saturday morning book club at a coffee shop. We read and discussed the first chapter of the first book and then decided it was more interesting to catch up on our lives. What is discussed at the coffee shop, stays at the coffee shop, so I can’t share any details but suffice it to say there’s deep trust and commitment among these ladies, as well as heartache and joy. For many years we met if not weekly, at least regularly. And then came COVID and out-of-state moves for two of the six. Praise Jesus for Zoom! It doesn’t feel as intimate (because it isn’t) and it feels just a little awkward (because it is), but it’s been a great temporary option. We all have good, healthy relationships outside the Coffee Ladies but there’s something special about these conversations that would have been lost if we had paused our gatherings. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in the same room with these humans until we gathered for dinner–all vaxxed and on a screened porch. It felt gloriously wonderful yet also not quite the same. We were out of the practice of being together.
Relationships Require Intentionality
Relationships and community require care and feeding. Congregations all over the world are facing the challenge of starting to gather again in person. And we are out of practice. We’ve been zooming, doing the masked-and-distanced thing, and lots of other creative solutions. But we must admit, it’s been a strange and awkward year and it’s time to rekindle relationships.
The fall is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings–perhaps this fall more than any other year as COVID recedes and we start to gather in person again safely. With purposefulness we can bring multiple generations together where all are mutually invested, not just present. Multigenerational means being in the same room at the same time. Intergenerational means being in relationship.
While respecting local pandemic protocols, plan for a combination of celebratory kick-off events. Be sure to also plan for new beginnings to more long-term intergenerational ministries to help people reconnect with community and grow in faith.
- Spend Time In God’s Creation: Gather for an after-worship or Saturday morning adventure to hike, observe a patch of grass, or just sit and listen to nature (God’s World in Community).
- Take a Field Trip: Take a field trip to an aquarium for a scavenger hunt in intergenerational groups to identify creatures named in scripture.
- Picnic Together: Host a church picnic based on Living In Faith Together (LIFT) to study, break bread, play, and pray around tables, blankets, or circles of chairs.
- Raise Money with a 5K: Hold a 5K walk/run or bike-a-thon to raise funds for a local food bank or animal shelter.
- Plan a Retreat: Plan a weekend retreat in a home, retreat center, or on the church grounds that invites All God’s Children to participate.
- Plan a Clean Up Project: Schedule a clean-up day at a nearby stream or to weed a local park.
- Experiment with Intergenerational Programing: Meet regularly for LIFT on Sunday mornings (or whenever it works) or pilot a LOGOS ministry.
- Prepare for Worship Together: Form an all-age ukulele band to rehearse for ongoing worship leadership (more intergenerational worship arts ideas here).
- Play Games Together: Play table games after worship over donuts or lunch.
Not sure where to start?
GenOn Ministries’ mission (and passion) is to support congregations in nurturing intergenerational Christ-centered community. This casts wider than helping old friends reconnect. It begins with an understanding that being a church where people of all generations seek to be dear friends benefits everyone and brings energy and vitality to the whole church. And it takes intentionality.
Gather a team to discuss GenOn’s Intergenerational Ministry Snapshot, useful for where to begin (worship, study, service, or fellowship). GenOn Guides love to support congregations through this exploration—customized so that each church builds on its strengths to become more intentionally intergenerational. Now might also be a good time to consider the convenience of online training. We can schedule during your regular leader gatherings, your Sunday class time, or a special time set aside.
It’s time to fan the flames of Christian community as we return to closeness. Let’s name the newness of coming back together and plan ways to rekindle relationships well in fresh ways.
Images provided by Liz Perraud.