Engaging “The Young People”

Source: Living Lutheran

Congregations are always asking, “Where are the young people and what can we do to bring youth to church?”

These questions are hard questions that don’t always have easy answers. However, congregations who intentionally focus on intergenerational ministries can be successful.

The intergenerational ministry refers to a ministry model that brings together individuals of diverse generations together to connect in intentional ways that expand the mission work and mission of the body of Christ.

According to Linda Staats, a leader and educator in the field of intergenerational ministry, “If we’re going to truly be the body of Christ, we need to have all generations in ministry. God is present in every generation. When we don’t have each generation participating, we’re missing perspectives and values. It all comes down to being the body of Christ. I’ve never experienced as much Holy Spirit as when the generations are together.”

Staats is a baby boomer who grew up in a multigenerational home that included her grandparents and great-grandparents. She leaders a ministry called HomeGrown Faith – an online community and resource center that supports intergenerational ministry and missions. A former youth minister and assistant to the bishop in the Rocky Mountain and Grand Canyon synods of the Lutheran Church, Staats leads the Generosity Project, an intentional house-based ministry program that focuses on connecting youth and adults through stewardship and giving.

“Faith isn’t a hand-me-down,” she said. “We say God is present in every single generation, and we’re here to witness, embellish and support that. Every generation needs to make faith their own.”

Staats argues congregations must be willing to ask tough questions that engage diverse participants from all age groups to participate, not just adults. Additionally, she added congregations should not underestimate the value of noting generational differences between the adult members of the congregation.

She notes that, in the past and even still today, many congregations segregate members by age. “Since the 1950s, the model for ministry was measured by your age. We have Sunday school rooms for 2-year-olds, 5-year-olds, youth group, etc. This model isn’t the body of Christ, and it’s only recently being challenged.”

This segregation creates tensions that heighten as the gaps between generations widen. 

The older members are aghast at young people going to communion in torn jeans that they probably bought for $100 a pair,” she added. However, by celebrating the diversity of the generations and each generation’s willingness to participate a congregation can thrive.

Congregations should remember, she adds, “Children pick up the importance of worship and rituals from adults,” Staats said, “and adults pick up the awe from kids.”

Source: Living Lutheran