The blessing of ministry across generations

Posted in Culture

By accident or on purpose, we commonly find ourselves interacting with people from generations other than our own. These interactions can be defined as: intergenerationality. Intergenerationality paired with Christianity and the church is exactly what Dr Holly Allen will be speaking about this July at the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology.

Dr Holly Allen, a professor and leading academic researcher of family science and Christian ministry at Lipscomb University in Nashville and author of Intergenerational Christian Ministry, will be presenting two lectures and two workshops in Adelaide on a variety of topics focused around intergenerational ministry. She defines this as “ministry that occurs when a congregation intentionally combines the generations together in mutual serving, sharing, or learning within the core activities of the church.”

Holly is an advocate of intentional intergenerational ministry, and elaborates on this in a Q&A interview with Crosslight magazine, “being intentional brings the congregation a sense of belonging and allows people to build a community so that when life brings hardships people of any generation can look to one another for support and comfort, advice, insight, care, and for spiritual sustenance.”

Through her studies and experiences, Holly says ministry does not need to be segregated, “even though as a church we come together to worship as one, generations are often divided by age. It becomes organised ministry to cater to the developmental needs of certain generations which ultimately separates the youth from the adults. Spiritual development and cognitive development are not synonymous, and therefore do not need to be separated.”

Holly provides more information on how intergenerational ministry can occur deliberately and collectively, “It is important to break down age related segregation. There are two approaches to this problem: teach-and-do, offer a few intergenerational experiences, followed with some good debriefing discussions and do-then-teach, jump in with a well-planned and engaging intergenerational event, and then debrief in small groups.

 “One of the first steps to breaking down barriers is realising that churches tend to offer young children Bible stories as a way of teaching them about God. However, it is preferred that children be offered an environment to nurture and grow in their spirituality. To connect personally and find their own relationship with God not just know about him, knowing the Bible is not synonymous with knowing God.”

As someone who attended an intentionally intergenerational non-denominational church for years, Holly shares her final thoughts, “my own experience has changed my understanding of Christian spiritual formation for children and adults and I believe this is what God has called me to do.”

Dr Holly Allen will be presenting two lectures and two workshops on topics detailing Intergenerational Ministry. The first is a free seminar on Tuesday 24 July at 7pm – ‘Resilience, Trauma and Children’s Spirituality’, and the second is a full-day session on Wednesday 25 July from 9:30am – 4:30pm both at the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology. The full day event costs $40 per person, which includes morning tea and lunch. Click here to register.

For more information about Dr Holly Allen’s upcoming events please visit: http://sa.uca.org.au/intergen/

Or contact Judyth Roberts on 0434 884625 or jroberts@sa.uca.org.au


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