The Intergenerational Volkswagen
How could the church do their job better? For me, the answer is together.
What’s our job? It’s clearly stated in Mathew 28 that our job is to execute the Great Commission.
In the book An Unstoppable Force, author Erwin McManus compares the church to a habitat where all the species need each other to grow and multiply. The church is like a habitat where generations (species) live together under the same roof—the church. Adults, young people, and kids in one place, eager to learn, grow, and make the Great Commission a reality by making disciples.
But what if the church is where generations collide rather than dance together for a purpose? Aren’t we supposed to be a community, a team? How can we win a game if we don’t play together? “Collide” is my description of a multigenerational church. It’s a place where we celebrate all the generations, but they work separately. Each of them has their own ministry life far from the other. A multigenerational church looks like a NASCAR race where all the cars compete to win on their own. The problem of the multigenerational church is that when you segregate the generations, you take away their opportunity to enjoy and learn from each other. If every generation claims a selfish spot at the church, then the Great Commission is at risk because Christ and the Gospel have ceased to be the center of our worship. The church doesn’t belong to a particular generation—the church belongs to God.
1 Corinthians 12:12 said: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ”.
God’s mission for all believers, regardless of age, is simple and clear—make disciples of all nations. But it’s a big task, and it’s impossible to do by yourself. Maybe it’s big because He doesn’t want you to do it alone. You need a team. God’s plan for His big mission is the church—the whole church, every generation, working together.
That’s what I think when I use the word “intergenerational”. It’s not a program, but a way of doing ministry together with the same goal in mind of making disciples of every nation. It’s a mindset where church leaders realize that every believer, no matter their age, is part of God’s plan. When we share our lives, stories, and experiences, we become more authentic and less systematic. We do fewer programs to become more relational. Contrary to a NASCAR race, intergenerational looks more like a Volkswagen camper full of people of different ages racing together to win. While they travel, they learn from each other as they work and serve together. They interact and develop meaningful relationships that help them show the world the invisible one.
I remember when my church started this new way of seeing the ministry. Our pastor asked us to cancel the majority of activities (the calendar was ridiculously busy). The men’s and women’s ministries decided to cancel their own activities to serve as one great team in the Fall Fest where we reached kids from the community. The result was a great celebration. Everyone had fun. The adults from the church met the kids and heard their stories, and you know that when you hear somebody’s story you’ll never see them the same way again.
How can we move to be more intergenerational?
- Be intentional. Learn the names of the kids and young people. Hear their stories.
- Be a mentor. Invest your life in kids and young people. Share your life experiences and your story.
- Be a team. Serve together. In our neighborhoods or on missions trips, let’s serve as a family. Let’s live the life God has for us, and let’s do it together.
Though the church needs to provide different experiences for every generation, in the end we know that it’s not about your generation or mine—it’s all about Christ and Christ alone.