Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    A Song for Lent: Jason Gray's "Remind Me Who I Am"

    Jason Gray's video for his song Remind Me Who I Am could be an effective way to explore some of the themes of Lent with your youth, particularly if paired with the story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness and his own struggles to understand his identity and calling from God.

    10 Ideas for Creating Cross-Generational Youth Ministry

    Part two of our look at cross-generational youth ministry offers a variety of suggestions for developing opportunities in your own ministry setting for inviting different age groups to develop a deeper sense of Christian fellowship. You can read part one of this essay here. Update: Read here how youth minister Calvin Park is already trying out some of the ideas below.

    What a great morning it had been! Most of our congregation gathered in our Fellowship Room for an intergenerational event  we call "Advent Around the Tree," held the last Sunday morning before Christmas day.  The room bustled with church members of all ages gathered around tables, engaged in various craft activities, writing greeting cards to our shut-ins, munching on bagels, and exploring various prayer stations. And in the midst of all this, a sight that captured the entire spirit of cross-generational ministry: Over at the side of the room was a low table with little chairs set up for our children to work together coloring in a large drawing of the nativity. But there were no children at the table. Instead, on one side sat two men who are well into their 70's and on the other side two of our teenage boys. And there they were together, two generations, engaging in the childlike ritual of coloring while talking with each and enjoying fellowship.  

    In many ways, that moment captures what cross-generational or intergenerational ministry can be. It's more than just different age groups inhabiting the same space (as happens often in our worship experiences). Rather, its providing opportunities for Christians of all generations to engage each other in experiences that build relationships and a deeper sense of the Church as one body in Christ. Below you will find several ideas for engaging in cross-generational youth ministry.  Not all may work for your setting as each context is different. But perhaps these will inspire you to seek new opportunities to swim against the tide of segregated youth activities and toward a more integrated approach for your ministry.

    Talk About It - Before initiating any grand scheme to develop cross-generational ministry, it can be helpful to find opportunities to speak with staff members, church leaders, and groups within your congregation about the rationale for moving away from segregated youth programming.  You'll find some helpful information on this subject in our text Missional Youth Ministry.

    Ease into It - As the cross-generational approach may be a new idea for many, it might be best to resist the urge to jump in with both feet, tossing out your old approach entirely. Start with a fellowship event or perhaps a short-term joint study opportunity for mixed ages.  Let others experiences what this new approach can be and they will hopefully become advocates for the cause.

    Adopt-a-grandparent - Call upon your youth to adopt an elder member of your congregation and invite them to show that person special care. This could include sitting with them in worship, inviting them to come to a youth gathering, or sending them a card on their birthday or when they are ill.

    Adopt-a-youth - The reverse idea works as well. Invite adults in your congregation to adopt youth and be part of a ministry of nurture to your teens. I'd suggest that these persons not be the same adults who already serve in your youth ministry program.  The more adults who are connected in meaningful ways with your teens, the better.

    Everyone in Worship - A trend in the last couple of decades has been to develop youth-centric worship experiences which segregate teens into their own worship experiences away from adults.  I can think of no greater mistake that we made in the program-centered paradigm of youth ministry than this.