Welcome back to another episode of the Think Orange Podcast. Today, we’re talking intergenerational neighboring. What’s intergenerational neighboring? Simply put: It’s about the intentionality of reaching every age group. We know that age groups in church tend to stick together, but to build transformational relationships that grow us spiritually and grow the church, we need to think past our own generation. On this episode, Chuck Bomar tells us why thinking intergenerationally is vital for the church and the next generation. Then, we’re joined by Virginia Ward in the studio for an incredible conversation on what successful intergenerational neighboring looks like and how you can practically start in your church.
Welcome to Episode 14 of the Think Orange Podcast.
It’s mission season: Ashley’s stories from Uganda (00:00)
Introduction to Chuck and Virginia Ward on Intergenerational Neighboring (3:55)
A special deal on Orange Curriculum (5:23)
Chuck on the disconnect between generations in church (7:05)
Focusing on the theological beauty of diversity (10:10)
We have a responsibility to value discipline people who are younger, both in age and spiritually, than us (11:50)
We need to value family (but be careful how we use the word family) (16:00)
We need to put value on others (19:22)
Embracing the value of quality over quantity (23:05)
Joseph Sojourner and Virginia Ward (20:00)
What is intergenerational neighboring? (29:35)
How do you reach the millennials without angering the tithers? (30:20)
Building relationships between generations (31:35)
How to execute intergenerational neighboring with a lack of resources, staff or volunteers (33:40)
Where to start (38:35)
What’s one thing you can do today to help the people in your church who are resistant to change? (42:17)
Is being “for our neighbors” a ministry opportunity? (44:55)
When you have a diverse cast communicating the message, but not constructing the message (51:30)
How do we help the next generation think intergenerational? (55:40)
Dave and Ashley unpack today’s lessons (1:01:10)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
Orange Curriculum helps you do more of what matters. Try it free.
Free e-book from Reggie Joiner: Sometimes It Takes A Party
Blog: Orange Leaders – a blog with strategies, tips and ideas from leaders influencing the faith and character of the next generation
REV. DR. VIRGINIA WARD
Virginia is the Director of Leadership and Mentored Ministries at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston Campus, where she teaches classes in urban youth ministry, leadership, and directs mentored ministries. Virginia served as the first full-time Youth Pastor of the Abundant Life Church. She also served as the Director of Black Campus Ministries (BCM), New England for Intervarsity, a campus-based organization that seeks to build spiritual communities of students and faculty. She is the wife of 32 years of Bishop Lawrence Ward, Pastor of the Abundant Life Church in Cambridge, MA., and the mother of two adult sons, Paul and Mark.
Chuck planted and serves as pastor of Colossae Church, a multi-congregational church with congregations on the westside of Portland. He’s a husband to Barbara and dad to Karis, Hope and Sayla. He’s authored nine books including: Serving Local Schools, Losing Your Religion and Better Off Without Jesus. You can find the rest of his books here.
Quotes from This Episode
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
1. We can’t program intergenerational relationships.
Church programs are wonderful things, but we can’t program relationships. We have to teach the church that building relationships isn’t just something extroverts do for fun, but it’s a Biblical responsibility.
Older generations have a responsibility to disciple people younger, both spiritually and in age, than us. The churches that value this and hold people accountable will see and experience intergenerational neighboring. People invest in their church when they feel like they belong, and a sense of belonging is formed through relationships.
2. Building relationships between generations requires intentionality.
Most of us are wired to stay with the people we know, or the people who are like us. To build relationships outside of your age bracket, it’s going to require intentionality.
Where do you start? Start with common ground. As Virginia said “everyone needs to eat.” Go to lunch or coffee so that you can start to understand their world and they can start to understand yours.
People in the church have to be comfortable talking to other people in church who aren’t the same age. Intergenerational neighboring shouldn’t just happen outside the building, but inside first.
3. How do we help the next generation think intergenerational?
This isn’t a convenient answer: Helping the next generation think intergenerational starts with asking them what you should do instead of telling them what you will do.
Talk to your teens about church events or programs that are being planned. Ask them: “if you could make changes now, what would they be?” Then make it personal, ask them “and how would you parents like that?” or your grandparents or aunts or siblings. These kinds of questions help the teens think outside of their own world. Suddenly their cool idea to have an event on the church roof changes when they realize that maybe their grandparents wouldn’t be able to climb the stairs to get there. It’s a practice that teaches empathy, shows them how to think through consequences, and helps them feel ownership for people in different age ranges.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
Does your church encourage—and hold people accountable for—discipling people who are younger? Why or why not?
What are some ways you can incorporate teaching intergenerational neighboring to your teens?
What’s one thing you can do today to help the people in your church who are resistant to change?
When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.
Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.
Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.