Multigenerational vs Intergenerational

A thought provoking post from Matt Deprez:  All Churches are Multigenerational.  Few are Intergenerational.  It makes me stop and ponder how to help people from different generations walk across the room and engage with each other.

Yet, at the same time, we must speak to people in their own language.  People will more readily come to faith if they don't have to cross artificial cultural and generational barriers. 

For instance, I recently heard a young man say that our worship services are geared for his parents, but not him.  I want it to be for him, but somehow, we're not speaking his language.  I think we might do better in reaching out to people like him if we provided something more specifically targeted.
However, we really miss something significant when we hive off people into different ministry categories.  The generations need each other.  The younger people need the older folks for wisdom and stability.  The older ones need the younger for creativity and energy.

Perhaps, to have effective evangelism as well as close, intergenrational community, congregations need to go both directions -- providing opportunities for specific groups (senior citizens, teens, young adults, single moms, etc.) along with opportunities to bring them together in strategic alliance to love and serve one another.


Matthew Deprez said…

Loved your thoughts on this.

A couple thoughts and questions. :)

I appreciate the balance you're proposing. It's true that we must speak to each generation in their own language. In fact, that's something we are constantly wrestling through as Frontline attempts to become more and more intergenerational.

One of our staff members has come to say, "At Frontline, we provide age-appropriate ministries with intergenerational opportunities." If we thought everything should be intergenerational, we'd have removed children's ministry, student ministry and adult small groups and replaced them with a "hodge-podge ministry of everything. (That might be a Maine term of everything being thrown into one pot). It's a good reminder that we shouldn't eliminate age-appropriate programming. I think everybody would agree it would be a terrible idea. :)

In regards to the young man you mentioned, what about the services makes him feel like it's geared toward his parents rather than himself? Is it the sermon? Music? Stage design? The smell of old lady perfume? (The last one was a joke - Sort of). :)

You mentioned that "we might do a better job reaching out to him if we provided something more specifically targeted." (I assume you mean age-targeted).

I totally agree with an extent. I think you're right about them being reached right now, as in, their current age. But the point of our emphasis with intergenerational ministry is interested with faith retention "down the road." I mentioned this in my Facebook post, but two massive research undertakings in the last ten years (Fuller Youth Institute with Kara Powell and Brad Griffin, and National Study of Youth and Religion with Christian Smith and Melinda Denton) have shown that being intergenerational is one of the most effective ways (some would argue it's THE most effective way) students transition faith out of high school into the rest of their lives. That said, I'm curious what your thoughts are as we reach people in their age-appropriate ministry understanding that without involving them in intergenerational ministry, their faith may not "stick" (see in the long run. I'm not insinuating you're saying one or the other, by any means. I believe you're saying it's both. I'm just wondering how that young man can fit into the larger corporate body of the church with the express interest/purpose being long-term faith retention?

That was a long way of saying: How has Hayward done both? What do you think you're doing well? Not so well? As a Senior Pastor leading the vision of the church, what do you believe your role with this is?

I appreciate you, Mark! A lot. Thanks again for engaging this topic.

Blessings to you,


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