What are the benefits of Multigenerational Ministry?

Multigenerational guitar circle.
Screenshot of SpiritJam Blog.

SpiritJam blog by Katie Covey.

After a couple of decades as a youth minister, Mark DeVries recognized that youth ministry was failing in its goal to foster spiritual growth and mature faith in teens. His diagnosis of the problem was that in typical youth ministries, teens had been systematically separated from adults, isolating them from the very relationships that are most likely to lead them to maturity.

Ivy Beckwith, a longtime children’s minister, claims in Postmodern Children’s Ministry that children’s ministry is broken. She came to see that the systematic separation of children from all other cohorts of the church was detrimental to them…Beckwith says, "A church program can’t spiritually form a child, but a family living as an intergenerational community of faith can.” (Allen, Ross, 2012)

Our faith communities are one of the last places in our society where people of all ages can and sometimes do gather.

And we need to do better. We need to because it matters for us, for our kids, for our society.

Creating intentional multigenerational communities means doing things differently. It means thinking creatively and constantly asking, are we considering the needs of all of our people? Are we able to include a wider span of ages in meaningful ways? Meaningful here is key.

The Search Institute, which has been conducting global research on spiritual development for fifty years, notes that one fundamental aspect of spiritual development is interconnecting, that is “linking oneself to narrative, communities, mentors, beliefs, traditions, and/or practices that remain significant over time.” The best way for the most people to link to the narratives, communities, mentors, traditions and practices of their faith communities is to participate in actively intergenerational age-integrated experiences with others in those faith communities.” (Allen, Ross, 2012)

Additional Resources:

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 religiouseducation@uua.org.