By Kelly Carr
Almost 11 years ago we left a large, vibrant congregation to plant a church. Though excited by the endeavor, it was hard to say goodbye to the smiling faces we wouldn’t see from week to week. One particular group we still dearly miss are the seniors.
My husband had been on staff at that congregation specifically to minister to the younger population—college-age and people in their 20s and early 30s. But when we had free time, we enjoyed volunteering with the senior saints of the church. One night we dressed up as a princess and court jester for the seniors’ medieval-themed banquet. What memories! This older generation loved us as family and became role models and mentors. Through Facebook several folks continue to stay in touch and offer encouragement.
Even though we have great age-specific programs in our congregations, getting to know people outside our demographic is important. All of us benefit when we reach across the generations to spend time with different brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the spirit of cross-generational relationships, I want to challenge you, if you don’t already, to be intentional about getting to know people who are different ages in your church. Take a turn in the nursery. Read a Bible story during a children’s Sunday school class. Ask if you could fill in one time for the youth group leader when they are absent. At a men’s or women’s event, sit by a person who is older or younger than you. Join a seniors trip. Host a Bible study and specifically invite differently aged people to attend. Take an individual or family out to lunch after church—those born in a different era than you.
When you do these things, ask questions, listen, and observe. See what God is doing in the hearts of people who grew up in a different time than you did. What can you learn from them? How can you bless their lives?