Rolling out the fala on Intergenerational
This week we close our series exploring what it means to be an Intergenerational Church. Assembly National Consultant Rev Charissa Suli shares a wrap on the recent Let's Yarn gathering, reminding us of the importance of cultivating relationships and understanding across generations and cultures as we seek God's leading.
Written by Rev Charissa Suli, Assembly National Consultant
“All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God – your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel together with your children and your wives … You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God. Each one of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” (Deuteronomy 29:10-12)
On the evening of Thursday 9 September, we held our final Let's Yarn session via Zoom on the theme ’our Intergenerational church’, one of the pillars of the Assembly Strategic Plan. The Assembly Resourcing Unit rolled out the fala (a traditional woven mat used to sit on for conversation in Pacific communities) as almost 40 people tuned in from across the country to be part of a conversation about what intergenerational ministry and mission look like in their local context.
It became evident that there is no single way for the Church to undertake Intergenerational ministry. For some, it is more of a way of being than a means of doing. For others it is about culture change that weaves our Intergenerational commitments into the broader fabric of ministry and mission across the breadth of our Church, rather than a new program to be added. We all recognised relationships are critical to growing a welcoming, inclusive Intergenerational Church.
The Assembly Resourcing Unit heard that there is a solid biblical foundation for why we should work in this field. All people are valued members of the body of Christ, according to the book of Romans. There are numerous examples of God's story being passed down from generation to generation in gathered communities throughout Bible.
However, the practice and understanding of intergenerational ministry vary throughout our church's history, and people will respond differently depending on their context, environment, leadership, culture, and community needs.
Here are some of the things people said on our virtual fala:
- “We do need to clear up our terminology on what we mean when we say ‘Intergenerational Ministry and Mission’”
- “Intergenerational Mission is something we do”
- “Intergenerational Church is about discipleship and giving people opportunities”
- “Intergenerational Church is about creating interactive and collaborative spaces”
- “We need to work on breaking generational boundaries”
- “CALD communities do Intergenerational Ministry differently. We have a lot to learn from our CALD communities”
- “Why do we do Intergenerational Ministry? Who is it for?”
- “Why is the focus always on worship when we talk about Intergenerational ministry”
- “A lot of congregations don’t identify themselves as being an Intergenerational church”
- “Intergenerational Ministry and mission are about relationships”
- “Often in CALD communities’ faith is tied to culture. We need to focus on faith formation in the local church”
- “Why put our energy into Intergenerational ministry if our young people are not in the church. We need to shift our energy into Intergenerational mission and look out into the community”
- “Our end goal is about God’s reign on earth not about our culture.”
As we shared many more stories, ideas, and insights, we were reminded of the importance of this area of ministry and mission for the Uniting Church as we cultivate relationships across generations and cultures, especially amid change brought about by COVID-19.
Our virtual fala reminded me that we are more powerful when we work to hold together the many generations in the life of our Church and beyond. This is true no matter what we call it – Intergenerational or cross-generational ministry, mission, or discipleship.
When we address our differences with humility, we deepen relationships and mutual understanding. What we are together is enhanced by what individuals bring to the table. Young and old, male, female, transgendered, non-binary, different nationalities, different levels of education and more are all better together.
In our diverse unity there is strength, understanding and learning as we seek God’s leading. The impact is far greater than we can imagine.
The Assembly continues to lean into our national Church’s stories and experiences, and we’re eager to engage and learn about how we can contribute to resourcing this area of ministry and mission.
We don’t have all the answers but commit to highlighting various Intergenerational ministry and mission models, developing models for growing emerging generations’ faith and leadership, supporting our Synods, and partnering with the UAICC in enabling this area of ministry.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to join us in our Let's Yarn series and contribute to the Assembly's work. We hope to have more occasions to yarn around the fala. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information and to stay in touch with the Assembly Resourcing Unit.