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Many Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities are embracing multigenerational ministry. When we say multigenerational ministry, we are talking about a ministry that brings all of our people together, regardless of age. We are talking about a congregational life where all are welcomed, included, and encouraged to lead and participate at any age. Multigenerational ministry brings the ages together to minister to and with each other….children, youth, young adults, emerging adults, the middle aged, older adults and elders. It calls for a whole community, not fractured or siloed by age. Intergenerational relationships will be nurtured and sustained through our practice of being multigenerational faith communities.
When is comes to building Multigenerational community, Kimberly Sweeney, Multigenerational Ministry Director in the New England Region, regularly asks congregations to choose one thing to focus on for a year. Not five things, not twenty, but one. Choose that one thing and totally knock it out of the park. It might be designing a worship service where all ages had a role. It might be setting up a night where older adults offer to talk with young adults about how to create a budget. It might be a time during coffee hour where kids show their elders how to communicate with Skype, or see what people are saying about your congregation on social media. The possibilities are endless. And they are all important experiments. Some will be successful. Others will not. But you will learn along the way, and will be able to build on each success as you move toward a more inclusive and multigenerational way of being. There is not a single “right place” to start. You will start where the energy is, and that is different for each of our congregations.
There is a good chance that your congregation is a multigenerational religious community right now. With six living generations, it’s hard not to be. If you do not have scores of children or groups of young adults, it’s ok. Our congregations so often bemoan who they are not without being able to celebrate and embrace who they are. Know who you are, do what is yours to do, and you will be that religious community we so desperately need you to be. Sometimes, the path to knowing what exactly it is that is yours to do can be hard.
You have the support of your siblings in faith who have walked that path, others who are discerning the same questions that you are, and even others still who aren’t yet there. You will see some of their stories and examples of their journeys here.
Multigenerational? Intergenerational? What’s the difference?
Both of these terms have been gaining traction in our congregations in the past 5-10 years, and we wonder if they mean the same thing, and if not, which one do we use? Intergenerational typically refers to interactions between people of two different generations: a teacher working with a child in a Religious Education class, a Baby Boomer minister offering pastoral care to a Gen X parent, a young adult working with a grandparent in a mentor/mentee relationship. These are all great, and we need these intergenerational connections as well as multigenerational connections (among 3 or more generations) to help our congregations thrive.
Learn More About Multigenerational Ministry
- Why are we Talking about Multigenerational Ministry?
- What are the Benefits of Multigenerational Ministry?
- What does a Multigenerational Community Look Like?
- How is Multigenerational Ministry Happening?
- Resources for Multigenerational Ministry
- Multigenerational Ministry for GA Workshops
Is your congregation using multigenerational ministry? How has it made a difference in your setting? How have congregants, families, or staff groups been changed through multigenerational ministry? Share your story by emailing multigen [at] uua [dot] org.