All in this Together

Published 29th November 2023 by Aike Kennett-Brown

This Autumn the Messy Church team, hosted by BRF ministries, have been digging deeper into our ‘for All Ages’ value.  We’ve been considering what best intergenerational practice in Messy Church looks like and how we can support Messy Churches to flourish in this area.

Being ‘Intergenerational’ is a bit of a buzz word in church circles now, particularly as post-pandemic volunteers for children and youth ministry are in short supply.  However, it’s always been one of Messy Churches core values, although one that many struggle with.  Perhaps it’s around engaging the adults during the celebration time or recognising that some families disappear as their oldest child reaches the top end of primary school.  How can we do ‘All-Age’ better?

We’re in the process of hosting a number of conversations around this topic, to hear the wisdom in the ‘zoom’.  Back in September, we consulted with Diocesan children youth and family advisors.  In October, Aike attended an International Intergen Collective meeting on the topic and has been reading new publications ever since including: ‘Being an intergenerational Church’ (Suzi Farrant and Darren Philip, 2023) and ‘All Ages Becoming’ (Valerie Grissom, 2023).  In November, we asked our Messy Church Think Tank (an ecumenical group of Messy Friends) about the topic, we also hosted a zoom with our international Messy Church regional and national leaders, with 10 countries present.

For those still a bit unsure as to what being ‘intergenerational’ means, Chris Barnett (Australia) provided us with a working definition that we are referring to ‘2 or more different age groups, intentionally connecting with one another.’  Why are we so bothered about this?  Recent research keeps noting that an intentionally intergenerational environment is more likely to encourage and sustain lifelong discipleship for all ages.  During our discussions we thought about each of our core values (Christ-centred, for all ages, creativity, hospitality, and celebration) and what we would notice if we were truly being ‘for all ages’ in each value.  We also wondered what it looks like to be ‘intergenerational’ in our planning, preparation, presentation, participation, and feedback at Messy Church.

Our time of listening continues, and we hope to speak with our young leaders group and support teams about this topic in the New Year, as part of our discernment process for a potential project in this area.  There’ll be opportunities for every Messy Church to feed in their ideas, as we hope to do a small piece of research about this in early January.  To be continued…

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