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6 Reasons to Consider Intergenerational Groups

“Many will hesitate when it comes to intergenerational* groups.  I certainly understand the hesitation.  While I am a proponent of all types of groups, there are at least six very compelling reasons churches should consider them.”  Rick Howerton

In a recent post, I pointed out the fact that we’re not living in “a day when the status quo is a good thing.  At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century…it is clearly time to develop a bias toward what’s next.”  To help all of us figure out what’s next, I’ve asked a number of the best-known group life practitioners to share their latest learnings.

Here’s Rick Howerton’s Latest Learning:

Fact #1: Intergenerational groups require moms and dads to be models and mentors. A healthy intergenerational small group is the perfect place for a child to see a multi-dimensional Christian life modeled by mom and dad.  A great group will cry out to God on behalf of one another, be on mission together, learn and live out God’s directives found in Scripture together, carry one another’s burdens, forgive one another, and the list goes on and on.

Fact #2: Intergenerational groups are the key to the next generation continuing to connect with a local church. Studies have shown that “five or more” adults investing time with a teen “personally and spiritually” is a vital factor in a youth continuing to journey with a local church.  There may be no more natural way for a teen to be substantially connected to five adults who invest in them personally and spiritually than by their being involved in an intergenerational small group.

Fact #3: Young adults long for and need older adults to mentor them. LifeWay Christian Resources did an extensive study of young adults.  Their interviews pointed out the following facts:

Young adults-

  • have a strong desire for relationships with people who are more experienced at life.
  • have an increased interest in learning from other people’s mistakes and experiences.
  • have a desire for relationships that go beyond their own stages of life.
  • have a desire to process hurts or frustrations with others who may have already experienced what they’re going through

Fact #4: Not-Yet-Adults add much to the small group experience. When children receive Christ, they are not then filled with a miniature Holy Spirit.  The same Holy Spirit indwelling every adult in a small group is also supernaturally at work in and through any child or teen, and God will use them in the lives of everyone in the group in profound ways.

Fact #5: Intergenerational grouping gives one-parent kids two-parent relationships. One-parent homes are norm.  In a one-parent home, one of two households exists: a mom and her kids or a dad and his kids.  Any child living in a one-parent home is at a great loss, as they are without a model of either the male parent or the female parent.  While group members can never replace a mom or dad, group members can be models and mentors to a child whose home is void of one gender or the other.

Fact #6: Intergenerational grouping gives older adults a chance to pass on their wisdom to the next generation. It is in living life that we learn life.  And those who have lived it the longest are often full of wise counsel.  The question is, “What is the most natural and effective setting to receive wise counsel from those who have lived more life than we have?”  There is no better setting than in an intergenerational small group.

*A small group made up of multiple generations. In most instances, an intergenerational group will include households of varying life stages with all persons in those households functioning together as a small group.

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.