Karen's Nine Reasons to Attend InterGenerate

  1. It’s just the right size. InterGenerate will be large enough to hear diverse stories and small enough to connect personally with those who are telling them.

  2. It includes a wide range of experienced presenters. I can’t wait to learn from and to swap stories with authors, ministry leaders, and others who have been nurturing growth in an intergenerational field for years. 
  3. It’s ecumenical. I’m looking forward to hearing about what is happening in intergenerational ministry in other denominations in addition to sharing what is happening in my own.
  4. The LOGOS experience. We get to gather around a table and experience a meal in LOGOS style. Yum!
  5. Lilly Lewin’s sacred spaces. I’ve experienced the sacred prayer and worship spaces set up by Lilly Lewin at other conferences and I’m looking forward to spending time in them again.
  6. What Bethany said. Faith is formed in groups where everyone belongs. I want to learn more about ways to create that kind of culture.
  7.  This video. 
  8. The price is right. For only $350.00 you get to attend all conference presentations, participate in all activities, get a free WE Event from Faith Alive Resources (valued at more than $100!) and eat FOUR delicious meals. There's also a discounted rate for Canadians (like me!)
  9. One word: Nashville.

Register today by clicking the button at the top of this page, and follow the Intergenerate Facebook page to connect with others  who want to learn  more about ways to be age inclusive communities of faith.

I can’t wait to InterGenerate. How about you?

My InterGenerate Story: Linda Staats

I was 19 years old and a campus ministry student when asked to lead my small congregation’s VBS. Although I was a faithful VBS participant and helper growing up, I had no idea how to go about organizing one. The thought of any one person being solely responsible for multiple kids - was scary! (My academic plans did not include becoming a teacher…) I decided then and there that if kids were involved, parents and other caregivers would be fully participating too. Following the event, I remember adults and kids asking, “When can we do this again?” 

I have heard this question repeatedly in my 40 plus years of facilitating Intergenerational Ministry. I am continually in awe of the Holy Spirit’s stirring when generations are brought together. I often wonder, “Why are Cross+Gen gatherings still the exception rather than the rule?”

Peter Benson’s words in the book All Kid Are My Kids (1997) have become the foundation for my own persistent and loud rallying cry when working with congregations, “As a community of faith, you possess a vast, untapped potential to bring generations together to accompany one another through life’s milestones and in the mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, at home and away from home!” 

I am delighted that the InterGenerate Conference will address both the “why” and the “how” - offering both academic and practical tools for honoring and utilizing the mix and breath of ages, wonder and wisdom within each of our own faith communities. I am confident that through your participation in this conference, your ministry will be strengthened at every level, with new insights on how to weave the gifts of every generation into the very fabric of your faith community. 

The greatest lesson I have learned in my personal faith journey is that God is a God of surprises. My 1930’s house is filled with items that belonged to generations that came before me. Every possession has a story! One closet contains the books I read to our two young sons, imagining some day reading to my grandchildren as I held them in my arms, while sitting in their great-great grandma’s rocking chair. Yet, this 68-year-old woman who grew up with 8 loving, “meddling” grandparents, all who lived within 14 miles of my home, and whose passion and life’s ministry is “generations” – has no grandchildren. 

Instead, my life has been enriched in ways I could have never imagined. Two young adults in Kenya call me their “Grand-Mum!” On my 60th birthday I had the joy of coordinating the multi-age interaction and care for 65 children, ages 3-10 from around the world at my denomination’s Global Mission Event. Last fall, children at a congregation where I was a guest, laid hands on me and blessed me. I felt the warmth of their hands and hearts for hours. I have had the privilege of walking beside youth in the judicatories where I have worked, and they in turn have motivated me and inspired me. 

I have discovered that investing in generational ministry means viewing one another through God’s eyes in a “cross+formed,” grace-filled way of life that goes beyond boundaries of age or stage, familial relationships, bloodlines and households. 

Along with helping host the InterGenerate Conference as a member of the planning team, I will be offering a workshop on “Cross+Generational Engagement: Accompanying One Another in Ministry and Mission.”  Generational ministry seen through the lens of accompaniment infuses generational ministry with a new perspective and deepened sense of urgency. We have an opportunity to crisscross and connect the borders between the generations right where we are, in our own congregation and households – and into all the world. 

I look forward to hearing God’s story in your story, as you share and engage in the InterGenerate Conference. See you in Nashville!

My InterGenerate Story: Karen DeBoer

I used to think that being an intergenerational church meant replacing Sunday school with an intergenerational curriculum or adding a monthly all-ages event to the church calendar. What I’ve come to understand is that there is a big difference between “doing” intergenerational and “becoming” intergenerational.  Programs are important; through them, relationships are often formed, but being an intergenerational church is about belonging.

The denomination to which I belong practices infant baptism, but there are times when we also experience the joy of witnessing the baptism of a child, teen or adult who has come to follow Jesus. Such was the case with Vivian, a young adult in our congregation.

On the day of Vivian’s baptism, the pastor invited her to come forward and tell the congregation her story. Everyone - babies to retirees - was present and she had our full attention as she shared how growing up in Hong Kong she had been enrolled in a Christian school by her unbelieving parents and how years later, after moving to Canada, her faith was nurtured in the relationship she had with her boyfriend and through the friendships she’d made with older adults in our congregation. It was a powerful story of God at work.

And now it was time to celebrate God’s faithfulness through the sacrament of baptism. Vivian and the pastor had decided that this milestone called for a big visual so rather than sprinkling water from the baptismal bowl over Vivian’s head, the pastor planned to pour water from a pitcher. What happened next took my breath away.

“Kids! We need your help!” said the pastor. “I’ve got a tarp to cover the floor. Can some of your spread it out?” Several kids rushed forward and began unrolling the tarp. “Who can get the towels? Can you carry the table to the tarp and put the bowl of water and the towels on it? And can you stand all around the tarp and hold it in place?” And they did. With smiles and giggles and amazement, they did it all.

With wide eyes, they watched with the rest of God’s family - their family, the church - as the pastor picked up the pitcher of water, poured it over Vivian’s head and baptized her in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then the pastor invited all those who wished to do so to surround Vivian and to pray for her. The children moved in tighter and were joined by young and old. Just before the prayer began I saw 5-year-old Nathan look up at Vivian and whisper, “May I hold your hand?”

The following week during Sunday school - one of my favorite places to form relationships with the children in my church - I asked if anyone could remember the special thing that had happened the previous Sunday. “Yes!” said Meaghan, “We baptized Vivian!”

Being an intergenerational church is about shaping a culture in which all ages belong and are known and have opportunities to learn and grow, serve and worship together.

At InterGenerate, I’ll be facilitating a workshop on storytelling. I’m looking forward to telling some stories, but mostly I’m looking forward to hearing stories and learning from the experiences of those who will be attending the conference: people from a variety of denominations who have been at work forming an intergenerational culture in their own church, those who have been researching intergenerational faith formation practices, those who have just begun to dream about what it might look like to be more intentionally intergenerational in their context. People like you.

See you there.

My InterGenerate Story: Liz Perraud

One of my first experiences in church was singing in the choir. I was about nine years old, not much of a singer but I liked to sing and I loved church. It wasn’t a children’s choir but just the choir, in the small church where I attended Sunday school. I wasn’t brave enough to invite myself so someone must have asked me to participate. I remember that I felt important and I felt equal to the adults—with my robe and my music notebook, just like their robes and music notebooks. 

My sons were raised in a LOGOS ministry in a church where they formed strong relationships--not just with peers but with adults as well. Each Wednesday evening for over ten years, they had Bible study teachers, recreation leaders, worship arts directors, and two “table parents” helping them learn and practice the Christian faith. Each summer in high school they spent a week at the GenOn Youth Summit in deep and impactful Christian community. Growing up, they were surrounded by lots of adults who, in addition to their parents, loved them as children of God and taught them to love all others as children of God too. 

Generation after generation passing on the faith. Generation with generation learning and practicing the faith. It’s what I’ve devoted my life’s work to, and I get just as charged up about why it works as I do about how it works. 

That’s why a conference like InterGenerate is thrilling to me! It is not just academics presenting researched theory and it is not just practitioners presenting proven models. It’s both.

I’ve been waiting for this conference since Holly Allen brought the idea to GenOn when it was just a dream, seeking our interest and participation. We are honored to be a sponsor and so deeply involved in the planning with Program Director Suzie Lane and board member Shirley Carlson on the task force. Holly also serves on the GenOn Board of Directors and leads InterGenerate and the planning of the conference. 

I look forward to seeing you there! 

Liz Perraud is executive director of GenOn Ministries, a sponsor of the InterGenerate Conference. 

My InterGenerate Story: Olivia Bryan Updegrove

I do not want to go to another “conference.” I want to go to an experience where I can engage with practitioners and academics beyond, “We have five minutes for questions.” I want to build relationships that will last beyond a quick “after session” conversation.

Intergenerate is limited in its number of participants so that those sitting next to you can also inspire you as much as those in front of you. We are working to make sure that those in front of you have ways to sit beside you, and together we create a foundation that can bring ways for God to work at all ages and stages of life across many denominations. 

Intergenerate is ministry in its simplest and most profound form. It is a call to be God’s community in intentional, inclusive, and relational ways. 

Intergenerate will have new voices, experienced voices, inspired voices, and your voice. You will leave with lots of information and ideas, but most importantly, you will leave with new people working alongside you as we all seek to be the church, together. 

I can’t wait to hear you voice! Join us!

 

My InterGenerate story: Holly Allen

I first glimpsed the significance of cross-generational Christian practices when my family and I joined a church plant that met weekly in intergenerational small groups. At the time our children were 7, 9, and 16, and we worshiped with that church for four years. My experiences in those intergenerational groups changed my understanding of children and my perspective on Christian spiritual formation for children and adults; ultimately these new perceptions led me to change my career.

However, I hadn’t realized the impact those groups had on my children (now young adults) until a few years ago when our daughter, Bethany, was visiting with us when I spoke about intergenerationality at a gathering of church leaders. One of the church leaders asked Bethany about her memories in the small groups. This is what she said:

It was so natural, sitting with everyone in our intergenerational small groups. I felt like I belonged, like we all belonged there; age wasn’t a factor. We’d all sing songs, and pray, and do a fun ice-breaker, and I participated on every level. Sometimes, the group leader would ask me to choose a song, or would ask me a particular question, like maybe how I felt about a certain verse or story in the Bible, and everyone listened to my response. I felt important, like what I had to say mattered. I remember so many of the adults in my small groups, and they were my friends, not just my parents’ friends. I remember listening to them talk about what was going on in their lives, or what new insights they’d had recently about God, and I felt a sense of intimacy.

I knew from the beginning that the groups were powerful and life-changing, but Bethany’s touching tribute to their influence in her life affirmed this conviction in me.

I am looking forward to the conference next summer, when dozens of other committed intergenerationalists (I may have just coined a new word) will share their understandings and experiences—and even their research—regarding fresh, new intergenerational Christian practices. Come join the conversation!