Our church world is changing. And while the message of Good News is unchanging, we now hear the news in different ways and we are challenged to meet children, youth, and adults where they are, which is not a simple task.
In the 1970s, it was common for families to attend church together every Sunday morning. There were prizes for perfect attendance. Shopping and sports took a back seat to church. Not so in today’s world! Culture and times have changed and the old “we’ve always done it this way” programming in separate age groupings does not always work, particularly in smaller faith communities. How can we use technological advances to help us spread the Gospel more effectively? It is time to let go of our fears… fears of change, or trying something new, of failure, of backlash. Instead, let’s collaborate and innovate by using the tools and gifts God has put before us to proclaim the Good News to a new generation, a new world, a new church. Inter-generational resources allow us to be more inclusive of every age and person in the church, to communicate better, and to help families join with us in the task of faith formation. And while the responsibility requires all of us work together, there are still many ways we as church can help families take steps in faith formation.
Find our inter-generational Sunday school resource at the top of our Additional Resources & Links webpage at MoravianBCM.org. Or just click the links here below!
In May, several Moravian educators and pastors created a model for congregations willing to take a few risks, to think outside the box, to offer something new and exciting, and to build on some energy. We chose lectionary materials for four Sundays in August as an inter-generational experience where all ages come together, share in small groups of mixed ages, do some intentional Bible Study, and create something unique for the next Sunday. We purposely worked on the passages a week ahead so that this joint creativity could be shared in corporate worship. What became apparent as we began reading these scripture readings was the theme of images of God. The four weeks focus on a different image of God presented in the Scriptures. We created a series of PowerPoint presentations, which can be found on the our website under additional resources. Simply download the files, print or project them and you are ready to go!
Mid-August, we’ll be adding a YouTube video that may be used in the last session, which focuses on the potter and the clay. We’ll film Rodney Stillwell, Forsyth Prison Chaplain, as he tells the biblical story of the potter and clay at the Children’s Festival in Salem Square on August 14. We hope this will be the first of many resources that we can create for congregations when they are ready to try inter-generational Sunday School.
Why is inter-generational ministry such an effective option for churches? The answer is very Moravian! Doing ministry with all ages is relational, allowing us to explore Christian relationships that form life-long disciples. A fun, celebratory setting creates an inviting space for these relationships to grow – and sometimes chaos, too! Yummy food, creative decorations, a welcoming atmosphere, and a genuine spirit of loving care all create memorable Family Time. Can you name 3-5 people in the age range of children, youth, and adults that have played significant parts in faith development? Yes, it was easier when much of our social lives revolved around activities at church. These relationships just happened. Now as we look at the way things have changed in churches, we realize that we have to be intentional in planning creative ways for all ages to form lasting, meaningful bonds with each other.
I pray that you claim for your congregation its most important calling: growing followers of Christ through the intentional building up of relationships within the Body. May you find the power of the Holy Spirit during multi-generational meal times. And may you know that God is the source of it all, our help in ages past and our hope for the generations to come. Stop worrying about the way you’ve “always done it” and begin to think of new and engaging ways for all ages to intermingle and form significant relationships. You won’t be sorry.
If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.
Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)