Monday, 14 January 2013

A few opening thoughts on intergenerational ministry

Working with the diversity of God's people is both a joy and a frustration. While diversity brings richness in expression and learning, there are often many hurdles to overcome as we seek to welcome each individual or group. This is the case, I often find, with intergenerational ministry.

Sometimes we attempt to overcome the developmental hurdles by "dumbing down" our offerings; we make them childish (often we fall short of childlike) in order to appeal to a younger audience, thus alienating youth and adults. Or we come at it from the other direction, creating something that appeals to those who are older, and finding alternatives to "entertain" children in the meantime, a practice which often gives children the impression that the Bible and church are for adults and doesn't honour children as spiritual beings. Both of these tacks have often led us to believe that intergenerational ministry just doesn't work.

I'm not arrogant or foolish enough to believe that there's any easy answer to dealing with all of the tensions that arise when engaging in intergenerational ministry. However, I do think there are approaches, or areas on which we might focus, that help us to honour the sacred within each of us. A few such areas that I believe have gifts to offer are story, ritual, practice, and elemental symbols. Over the next week or so I hope to take some time to reflect on each of these areas in turn as a way of organizing my own thoughts, as well as perhaps providing some food for some of you. 

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