Paper Presentations

These are the 2017 Paper Presentations. Check back soon for the 2019 ones!

Walking with Emerging Adults on Their Spiritual Journeys
Holly Allen,  Professor of Family Science & Christian Ministries, Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee 
How might traditional churches join twenty-somethings on their spiritual journeys? How might the church support young adults as they enter the work force, forge adult identities, re-visit childhood beliefs, and re-story their lives? The premise of this paper is that emerging adults actually desire authentic intergenerational relationships as they enter adulthood; they need those older and wiser to listen as they voice doubts and fears, negotiate peer and work relationships, and integrate who they were with who they are becoming. Building on research from David Kinnaman, Christian Smith, and Kara Powell, this paper will explore why emerging adults are walking away, share current research from two church plants made up almost exclusively of twenty-somethings, and outline six ways more traditional churches can welcome these emerging adults into our communities.

The impact of intergenerationality on discipleship
Joe Azzopardi, Lecturer, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, Australia
This presentation is a response to the call for more research about intergenerational practices in churches. My current research project seeks to assess what impact intergenerational Christian practices have on discipleship. My presentation will outline twelve key factors that contribute to discipleship; it will also describe the various intergenerational activities the churches are experiencing. My pilot study with two intentionally intergenerational congregations has field tested the synergy between discipleship and intergenerational experiences; and I will soon be working with eight other churches to further connect the dots between these two concepts.

And God came down: Intergenerational communities and a theology of accommodation
Gareth Crispin, Youth, Children and Families Minister, St. John's Anglican Church, Lindow, UK
Are you looking for a theological principle that can guide your congregation in the challenging work of integrating the generations? The theology of accommodation is just such a principle. In Scripture we see that God accommodates himself to humanity not only in word but in action; and God's example is a description of how to live as God's people in the church. Specifically, 1 Corinthians 8-11:1 demonstrates that those with authority and knowledge in the church are to accommodate those without, which almost invariably include youth and children. the theology of accommodation offers a biblically sound resource to address the challenges of living as an intergenerational community in your setting.

Biblical and Theological Foundations of IG Ministry
Darwin K. Glassford, Director of Online Learning at Kuyper College, Grand Rapids, MI
Executive Pastor at Harderwyk Ministries, Holland, MI

Intergenerational ministry is the norm in Scripture; it is a way of life. Yet the default response of many churches to research supporting intergenerational faith formation has been to adjust current programming and call it "intergenerational." In our time together we will explore the understanding of intergenerational ministry found throughout the Pentateuch, specifically in Genesis 1-3; Exodus 20:1; Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 6:1-20 and 21:18-21, as a basis for developing a holistic and generationally inclusive ministry strategy.

Practicing Lectio Divina, Journaling, and Imaging Prayer Intergenerationally
Laren McCormack, Children’s Minister, White Station Church of Christ, Memphis, TN
For eight weeks in late 2016, a group of people ages 6 to 80 participated together in contemplative spiritual exercises. Each week this cross-generational group listened with each other via Lectio Divina, journaled and reflected individually, and participated together in imaging prayer. These intergenerational exercises were part of a qualitative research project; this conference presentation will summarize the project, share responses from the participants, and offer analysis of the spiritual impact of this eight-week process on all ages, but especially the children. The presentation will also address challenges of implementing this intergenerational project followed by open discussion regarding future uses and possibilities for practicing intergenerational spiritual disciplines. 

Lessons From an Intergenerational Reading of Scripture Through Dwelling in the Word
Wilson McCoy, Associate Minister, College Hills Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN
This paper presents the results of a qualitative study of the spiritually formative impact of reading Scripture in an intergenerational environment at the College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon, TN. Once a week during August and September of 2015 two separate groups, each consisting of five generational cohorts, were guided through a reading practice called Dwelling in the Word. This reading method served as an appropriate exercise due to its emphasis on encountering God and Scripture through a community of participants. During the two months the cross-generational encounters happening within each group were explored. The intent was to discern the spiritual formation impact of these intergenerational experiences. This paper will present lessons from this research.  

Principles and practices of intergenerational faith formation: Research findings from practitioners
John Roberto, Lifelong Faith Associates
Over the past 25 years a growing body of knowledge has been emerging from faith communities about the principles that guide intergenerational faith formation and the practices that make it effective - for the participants and for the whole faith community. This paper presents the results from a survey of practitioners and from the 2014 Symposium on Intergenerational Faith Formation sponsored by LifelongFaith Associates. The results from 2014 have been updated with a new survey of church leaders in the Spring of 2017.

The Most Important Intergenerational Ministry No One Is Talking About"
Dawn Rundman, sparkhouse
What if you asserted that the most important people in your church are the infants and toddlers in your midst? When we begin children’s ministry with 3-year-olds, we miss a remarkable opportunity for intergenerational ministry. The church can provide a remarkable context for faith formation at a time when young brains are the most plastic and when parents are most in need of support, encouragement, and ideas for raising their children in the faith.

Why Intergenerational Participation in Shaping Millennial Leadership is Vital for Future Youth Ministry with Screeners (Gen Z)
Dave Sanders, Professor of Christian Ministries; Judson University, Elgin, IL
Do you know who taught Moses about leadership or mentored Ruth in cultural engagement or poured wisdom into a young John Mark who later wrote one of the gospel accounts? The dynamic success of Jethro, Naomi and Barnabas was established on the principles of intergenerational influence, mentoring and leadership. In light of these examples, and knowing that the next 20 years of youth ministry will be about the Screener generation with Millennials as their primary leaders, it seems equally crucial for churches and ministry organizations to implement an intergenerational strategy for mentoring and leadership development. This paper investigates what each generation needs, wants and offers, and why the Millennials as young leaders require intergenerational influence as they spearhead ministry to the youngest generation of Screeners.

How Age and Stage Ministry Has Hurt the Church and Why Intergenerational Ministry Provides a Cure
Jason Santos, Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency and National Director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries, Louisville, KY
There is a growing concern in our nation around the hemorrhaging of youth and young adults from our congregations. Perhaps, however, we shouldn’t be so surprised. For the last half-century, we’ve increasingly formed our children and youth through developmentally centered, peer-oriented ministry programs that removed them from the corporate life of the church. Recent research suggests that we might have taken the ages and stages model of ministry a little too far. This seminar explores the history of that trend through generational and identity formation theories that shed light on the problem and offer insight toward a more communal understand of discipleship which is most faithfully cultivated through intentional intergenerational spiritual formation.

Leading Multigenerational Churches to Become Intentionally Intergenerational
Cory Seibel, Central Baptist Church, Edmonton, Alberta; Affiliate Professor, Sioux Falls Seminary, South Dakota
Many church leaders today possess an affinity for intergenerational approaches to ministry, yet struggle to help their congregations transform into intentionally intergenerational communities of faith. As these leaders have discovered, it is not easy to reverse decades of the church being conditioned by approaches to ministry that have tended to isolate the generations from one another. This paper will address this challenge by exploring how leaders might guide their congregations through the process of change. Important insights will be gleaned from the fields of organizational leadership, systems theory, and diffusion of innovation theory. Leaders will be aided in navigating the difficult dynamics that are likely to arise within their congregations and within themselves as they journey through the process of change.

Why and how intergenerational interactions improve the spiritual and mental well-being of aging adults
Diane E. Shallue, adjunct faculty at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN; retired Director of Christian Education and Small Group Ministries, University Lutheran Church of Hope, Minneapolis, MN
Sharing wisdom and hope between the generations is not only important for children but also for older adults.  How can we encourage intergenerational interactions as important for the mental and spiritual health of older adults? How can we affirm older adults and help them feel like “elders” rather than “elderly?”  Older adults are often marginalized, ignored or negatively labeled, yet they are a foundation of faith in most congregations.  Many models of ministry with older adults still focus primarily on socialization with peers and home visits. As our society and congregations continue to age, new approaches are needed.  This paper will provide theory and practical ideas to encourage an intergenerational approach as a caring ministry with benefits for older adults.

What to do When the Kids are Few?
Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation, Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda, Presbyterian Church in Canada, Toronto, Ontario
In the synod in which I serve, 49% of the congregations have ten or fewer children on their rolls, yet most of these churches strive to do ministry with their children using age-segregated programs designed for churches with hundreds of kids. It’s not working! This qualitative study, which included four diverse congregations, tested five practices for intergenerational ministry for their effectiveness in congregations with a handful of kids—practices that take the primary emphasis off the Sunday School and place responsibility for ministry with children across the whole church. There is good news as well as a cautionary tale or two to share. 

Towards a Spiritual Theology of Christian Formation
Dr. Regina Walton, Pastor & Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Newton, MA; Denominational Counselor for Episcopal/Anglican Students and Adjunct Instructor, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA
When our beliefs and practices around Christian formation lack a robust theological core, certain problems tend to arise in our congregations: underestimating children’s innate capacity for God; choosing resources and curricula without an overarching framework of values, goals, and outcomes; ignoring the home as a primary locus for Christian formation. This paper points towards a spiritual theology of Christian formation that is biblically-based, holistic in approach in including all ages, and accessible to ordained and lay ministers. Spiritual theology is concerned with Christian disciplines and practices that contribute to spiritual growth, and as such is an especially appropriate lens through which to consider the theory and practice of Christian formation across the lifespan.

Could churches become intergenerational communities by changing their values rather than adopting the latest programs?
Murray Wilkinson, Adviser for Ministry with Children and Young People, Diocese of Canterbury, Kent, UK
The tradition of segregating by age has robbed today’s church of the child’s view of God. A succession of models and programs has been forced onto hidden value systems biased towards adults. The Whole Church conversation is attempting to invite churches to test their espoused intergenerational aspirations against their foundational value systems. The solution does not lie in yet another new program but in the hard process of changing those underlying attitudes to allow an intergenerational way of being to:
a) see children and young people as fellow pilgrims, focusing on faith formation not just information;
b) to encourage our churches to become intergenerational communities that make space for individual transformation as they encounter God together.