Forming Faith from Me to Z: A Plea for Intergenerational Ministry
(In this paper I dig into my practical theology roots and discuss two contributing factors that gave rise to age-segregated ministry and how intergenerational ministry can respond to the issues age-segregated ministry attempts to address. You may notice I write as if intergenerational ministry ought to be the given. That’s because it should be you ageists.)
For most of Christian history, the Christian community has expressed its faith in intergenerational community. Age-segregated ministry is a recent development, especially amongst the rise of megachurches. Despite being a recent development, this ministry has become widely popular, infiltrating into non-megachurch church communities, including church communities that long resisted age-segregated ministry. In this short paper, I will discuss the reason for age-segregated ministry and whether there is a better way forward that meets the needs of faith communities.
The concept of intergenerational ministry is not a new concept but is a new term. It is not a new concept because it was the given ministry model that faith communities used to form faith amongst its participants. However, over the past few decades as age-segregated ministry became the norm, intergenerational ministry became another model to faith formation. Before I discuss the problems brought about my this movement from intergenerational to age-segregated ministry, let me first articulate two reasons for why this shift occurred in the first place.
The first reason for the shift is that age-segregation is not a condition in which just the church finds itself but is also a condition that has become dominant throughout most of Western society. Age-graded schooling, generational-mobility, movement from extended to nuclear family, and rise of retirement communities all have contributed to this dominant condition. Hence, there are fewer public spaces in society where a plethora of ages interact. In fact, despite the concern of age-segregation occurring within the church as whole in Western society, churches are largely the only spaces in which many ages do interact on a regular basis in Western society. Therefore, age-segregation is not simply a condition of the church but is a broader societal condition…