Gotta love an older lady!

Is youth group enough?

I read a provocative blog by Matthew DePrez today about the difference between multi-generational and inter-generational churches.

He challenged us to consider whether our church has inter-relational generations or those that just move around the same room with no interaction.  For student churches its an age old question – how do we connect students with the wider family?  Is this a big ask within youth ministry?  Is there an ache in the hearts of youth workers to have young people walk across the room and offer to pray for the old lady whose back is still causing her pain?  I realise that for many young people who’ve grown up in the church this may not be an issue – they’re known by the old ladies and their parents are the ones in between!  However, this does not necessarily mean that they are learning how to build genuine relationships across the generations and brilliantly that familiarity is a perfect context to encourage them to do so intentionally.  We once did a secret santa with the whole church – as a 17 year old I got paired with a lady in her 60s and we still exchange sporadic gifts and encouragements now, seven years on!  

I know for many youth workers the ache is to see young people connect with church at all and that is often most effective when done in relative isolation within their age group.  However, for the long term, is this teaching them how to be a part of the church in a way that will last them?  Many uni students struggle to connect with other generations in a new church environment and they miss that sense of family.  I believe this can be key to why many don’t continue with church post-uni – they haven’t practised inter-generational community, so when they go beyond age-specific stuff they’re lost.

What can youth workers do, then, to encourage inter-generational church from 11 all the way through?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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