Multigenerational ministry can happen in congregations in a variety of areas and ways.
Most congregations’ first experience with multigenerational programming is the worship service. There are many expressions of multigenerational worship, for example, a “time for all ages” for 10-15 minutes in Sunday worship, once a month; three or four services each year for for all ages, centered on particular holidays; and worship for all ages every Sunday.
A common aspect of multigenerational worship services is the importance of collaborative planning with all involved in worship. In fact, collaboration is key to all intentionally multigenerational programs such as community building events, faith development or learning, social justice activities, and service to others.
Here are some stories:
- While serving the UU Congregation of Binghamton, New York as Transitional Director of Lifespan Faith Development, Ann Kadlecek reported on the birth of a new family ministry model. Her report tracks the Binghamton congregation's story of moving from a Sunday School model to approaches that meet the needs of families in new ways and welcome them into congregational life. Her report discusses collaborations for staff and volunteers and an evolving role for the religious educator.
- In "Creating a Multigenerational Culture: A Drive Time Essay," Krista Taves, minister of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel (in Ellisville MO) ties her small congregation’s recent growth to their decision to move to a two-hour format with one hour of worship for people of all ages and one hour with religious education programs for both children [and youth] and adults. Listen to the audio, read the transcript from the pdf.
- The Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, UT's multigenerational approach to worship and religious education is one of the reasons the 102-member church has been named a Breakthrough Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Learn more in the UU World article "We Know Why We're Here".
Opportunities for Connecting All Ages
The useful website, Living the Principles, grew out of multigenerational ministry work at Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich, RI in 2014-15. The Rev. Ellen Quaadgras and Ann Kadlecek, then the Director of Religious Education, offer this guide for leading all-ages exploration of the Unitarian Universalist Principles. The materials may be used by professional or lay leaders; the program as a whole can support a congregational theme year, or elements may be adapted for an individual, family, or multigenerational group. Living the Principles was made possible by a grant from the Unitarian Sunday School Society and the support of Westminster Unitarian Church.
Adrienne Summerlot, Director of Religious Education at the UU Church of Bloomington, IN shares: “We are finding that people are busier than ever and seeking quality family and community time. Providing occasional opportunities for people to connect with all ages in small groups is welcome. We try to focus all of our programs towards our vision for the church: Seeking the Spirit, Building Community, Changing the World. All are involved in planning: the Religious Education Team (Minister of Religious Education, Director of Religious Education, Religious Education Support Team and Religious Education Assistants) along with great support and encouragement from our parish ministers, membership coordinator and the rest of the staff.”
Multigenerational programs and events have included:
- Monthly Family Worship on Wednesday evenings
- Spirit Play for All Ages on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 5:30-7pm, exploring a story related to our congregational theme
- Fourth Friday Fellowship to make social justice more accessible to everyone; several Social Justice Task Forces were excited to partner with RE.
- Monthly Spiritual Crafting series led by the Senior Minister
- Stand-alone events such as a holiday sing-along, a gift-making workshop, a Soul Food dinner, and a May Pole dance
Read more complete descriptions of these programs and some helpful implementation advice here.
Explore more "success stories" shared by congregations in different areas of programming:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.