One of the trends we are seeing in church life today is church fall out by young people after they graduate from high school. When young people discontinue their connection to church it often goes unnoticed. This is a great tragedy for all churches and especially young people as they transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
One of the many culprits of church fallout is the lack of genuine relationships that exist between children, teens and older adults. One way to strengthen a young person’s relationship and view of the church is to create a church culture in which intergenerational relationships exist. This feature has several suggestions for intergenerational activities that produce strong and authentic relationships that connect all people (but especially youth) for a lifetime.
When thinking about running these events, success looks like people young and old knowing each other by name and making an emotional connection. So, in that effort we are seeking to bring people together rather than creating activities that divide people or keep people from engaging in conversation.
What’s more intimate than sitting at a table with your peers, eating a nice meal and engaging in meaningful conversation? Picture your fellowship hall dimly lit with decorations adorning the walls. Candles and heart shaped candies are purposely placed on tables. This holiday is a great opportunity to bring people together, build up your teen’s conversation skills, and teach youth to serve. So many wins with this event.
- Set the date and get invitations out to your senior adults; require an RSVP
- Allow the youth to brainstorm the menu (don’t go overboard)
- Ask parents to cook the meal while youth decorate the fellowship hall
- Since the senior adults RSVP’d for this event you can create a seating list. Make sure there is at least one chair designated at each table for a youth.
- Make conversation cards for each table. This will help the conversations get started
- Create a photo station where senior adults can have their picture taken with their friends. You can get prints made cheap at Sam’s to be given out later. (Have adults address envelopes with their address so they can be mailed later or have a youth assigned for handing the pictures out during the Sunday School hour)
- Advice- Make this a two hour event. Allow youth to showcase their talent but don’t fill up the time with entertainment. The idea is to allow youth and adults to engage in conversation.
Board Game Social:
This is a little like the Valentine’s Dinner but without much set up. Our senior adults and youth love to play games, so why not put them together? You can make this event a pot luck lunch or an evening of desserts and set up tables for games.
- Set the date and get invitations out to your senior adults. This doesn’t require an RSVP
- Encourage everyone to bring their favorite board games (bring a few yourself)
- Set up tables around your fellowship hall or youth space with 4-6 chairs around each table
- Sit back and watch the magic happen
- You might even debrief at the end to see what people have learned about each other
Combined Choir Tour:
For many youth groups choir tours are an annual experience. These groups travel hundreds of miles to sing in nursing homes and care facilities sometimes adding a mission trip or fun activities. Why not combine youth and adult choirs to tour together? It can work because many of the adults in the adult choir are retired or can easily ask off of work. Think about all of the fun shared experiences that can come from a combined choir tour.
Okay maybe that extra exclamation point was not needed but this is a great event to bring young and old together and it works in any season of the year.
- Find an adult (or couple) with a great hosting house to host the event
- Ask the host to provide the main dish (hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza)
- Ask other adults to bring side dishes. For this to happen you invite parents, adult mentors, Sunday school teachers, etc. If your host is not a regular around youth, ask them to invite their church friends to attend as well.
- Ask youth to bring drinks (sodas, sweet tea, etc.)
- Make this event 2-3 hours long. The first 30 minutes is the awkward period where people are settling into the new environment. The next hour is for eating and light conversation. The next hour is for organized activity that creates engagement between youth and adults. This is the most important part of the event.
- Success looks like people, young and old engaging in conversation. If at the end of the party every adult knows the youths’ names and vice versa, then it was a major success.
If we want our young people to grow into mature Christ followers they need to see adults acting in mature Christlike ways. Retreats can be the perfect setting to experience thoughtful worship and expressive faith. Work with your church staff months in advance to set up the dates, schedule, worship services and group building activities. The setting can be in the mountains or the beach. Activities could be roasting marshmallows around a fire, an old hymn singalong, a group hike, group games in an open field, or lots of downtime with board games and crafts. Make this retreat a fun and meaningful time for all ages and see your sense of community grow over time.
Eric Hasha is the Minister to Youth and College at First Baptist Church Jefferson City, TN. He is a graduate of Samford University and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Eric is married to Cristy and the father of Abigail (5 years) and Everett (2 years). As a resident of East Tennessee, Eric enjoys biking the Virginia Creeper