Stop doing Intergenerational Ministry!

By Rev. Melissa Cooper
LECFamily Program Coordinator

If you're familiar with LECFamily and have followed our blog, liked our Facebook page, or attended one of our workshops, you are probably surprised by the title of this post. But I mean it!

Stop trying to do intergenerational ministry! No more intergenerational programs!

Why? Because our goal should actually be to create an intergenerational culture

I can't tell you how many conversations I have with church leaders who are proud of their intergenerational church. They share how much intergenerational ministry they do, from children's ministry to youth ministry to parenting groups ... and yet much of what they describe only serves one generation at a time. We call that multigenerational. Something to be celebrated, certainly, but it's not intergenerational.

Or, I will get the church that brags about its intergenerational-ness through confirmation mentors or youth Sundays or children's Sabbath. All wonderful things, and yet, those are still programs. 

The overwhelming answer to the question "Why do 40-50% of our youth group graduates leave the church and never come back?" is a resounding, "Because they've never actually been part of the church." 

They weren't in community worship until the 5th grade (or later!).  Why do we think they are "ready" when they've never actually seen what happens in "big church?" We have removed them from the key Christian community experience in their most formative years. 

They've never met the matriarchs and patriarchs of your church, the people who could teach them the most about being a Christ follower because they have the most experience with it. 

I could go on, but the moral of the story is that we can't solve the problems of the church's future with another program or worship style. We have to be committed to a culture shift.

So again I say, "Stop doing intergenerational ministry!" Instead, seek to create an intergenerational culture

 Want to explore how to create this culture shift in your congregation? Check out the opportunities available through LECFamily!

#FamilyFavoriteFriday - Handmade gifts, youth Sunday, and Lego prayers

It's time for #FamilyFavoriteFriday! Here's what we found to share with you around the web this week ...

For Parents ...

Always at a loss for what to give family members for birthdays, Christmas, Arbor day? Here are some great options for handmade gifts that families can make together and give together!

Ever bought any of these ridiculous parenting products? Share with us in the comments if one of these isn't as ridiculous as it seems!

For Ministry Leaders ...

Is your church proud of its "Youth Sunday" service? or maybe "Children's Sabbath"? This article helps us evaluate our current programs and brings into question how they fit into the larger mission of the church. Are they more than just a show? Are they actually part of the problem?

Why not let kids play with toys while they pray? Here's a great Lego-themed prayer practice that allows them to do just that!

For Fun ...

This young artist has a passion for paint - and her mom loves catching her in the act of creating - both art and messes!

For thought ...

  • What is the best handmade gift your kids have made for you or a relative? 

  • How does youth or children's Sunday fit into the larger vision of your church? 

  • What other toys might you use for a prayer time? 

#FamilyFavoriteFriday - Emotional parenting, the power of story, and art criticism

It's time for #FamilyFavoriteFriday! Here's what we found to share with you around the web this week ...

For Parents ...

How do you process your emotions as a parent? Are you even aware when you respond emotionally to your kids? This article talks about the "emotional practice" of parenting. It might be enlightening ... and it will probably be challenging!

For Ministry Leaders ...

We tell stories all the time as part of children's ministry (and adult ministry, we just call them "anecdotes" or "illustrations" - let's be honest folks, we all love stories!), but how often do you think about why stories are so powerful? There's a reason God chose a book of stories as one of the many ways God communicated with humanity.

For those of you who are just feeling alone this week, know you're not. And check out these thoughts on how to know if your church doesn't value children's ministry the way it should.

For Fun ...

Are you more impressed by your kids' artwork than some of what you've seen in a museum? There might be a reason ... check out this video of art experts expressing their criticism of mass-produced prints from IKEA.

For thought ...

  • What emotions do you feel most often when you're in conversation with your kids? 

  • In what ways does your church value children's ministry? 

  • What is the most valuable piece of art you own from your kids? Post a picture in the comments! 

#FamilyFavoriteFriday - Coloring, kids in traditional worship, and books, books, books!

It's time for #FamilyFavoriteFriday! Here's what we found to share with you around the web this week ...

For Parents ...

Ever felt guilty for spending time coloring with your kid - and realizing you've enjoyed it as much as they do?! Turns out that coloring isn't just for kids - it is a de-stresser for adults too! (This is one of the many reasons we always have coloring sheets available at The Mary Retreat for busy women!)

This one was an interesting find - are you having trouble getting your boys to wear jeans? Turns out it's a more common challenge than one might have thought!

For Ministry Leaders ...

There are some pretty flashy curricula out there nowadays, but some of the best and most kid-friendly material is actually ancient stuff! Using Tactile Prayer experiences both connects our kids to church traditions and engages their best learning styles.

In the same vein, we have to stop perpetuating the myth that "traditional" worship isn't kid-friendly! The MOST kid-friendly worship is the MOST liturgical! If you're wondering why kids don't want to stay in worship in a contemporary setting, it's because it doesn't engage them. From following a finger from word to word in a hymnal, to reciting a creed or litany, to walking forward to receive communion (or help serve it!), to placing a small sum in the offering plate, the most "traditional" elements of worship are the ones kids can latch onto the most.

For Fun ...

Are you a bookworm? Just can't bring yourself to get rid of the tomes that are taking up your shelves? Check out these pieces of furniture made from books!

For thought ...

  • How are your kids engaged in worship? Are they allowed in worship at all? 

  • What "kids" activities do you love? 

  • What was your favorite book to read as a child?