Last night’s student ministry activity following youth worship was bocce ball. We cleared the Family Life Center and members from the TUMS (55+) Group met with the student ministry (9-12 grades) to show them how to play the game of Bocce Ball. I wasn’t involved in it, but I thought it was a great idea and I took some time to watch them play.
One of things I think we miss in today’s church is opportunity for generations to mix. We’ve heard about intergenerational stuff a lot over the years. But, generally speaking, many small mainline churches have mostly older people and many newer box community churches have mostly younger people.
Some of the most important faith formation moments were in connections with the older generation. They taught, encouraged, had a broad perspective, asked good questions, and in general modeled faith to me.
One example of this may be in small groups. I recently heard that if the last twenty years has been a worship revolution in the church, the next twenty will be small group ministry revolution. In the United Methodist Church, at least, it comes in waves. The Methodists were built on small groups. Thousands of them all over the countryside. It’s why today, we have so many small churches in every nook and cranny of the nation. There are three times as many United Methodist Churches than there are McDonalds! So, I guess a new revolution of small groups could be in order – this prediction may be right.
However, small groups centered around age may not be the best. You do have the benefit of people understanding your situation in life, but a person doesn’t have the benefit of hearing from someone who has walked through it. They miss the perspective and the faithfulness.
Likewise, the older person doesn’t get the opportunity to see an alive and simple faith that often comes from the younger generation. So, in this one particular example of small groups, I think it may serve the church well to create opportunities for the generations to come together – in worship, in learning, and in community. Doesn’t have to be amazing stuff – just something.
Maybe like Bocce Ball! What a hoot. People in their 60’s showing teenagers, many they may not even really know, how to play a game. And the funny thing was, they went over time. Students weren’t rushing off to get back home. The older folks were out later than usual.. It’s a powerful example of a healthy church.