What do you think of when you hear “Intergenerational?” Do pictures of youth going to nursing homes (I know that is not the politically correct name for them) and visiting the elderly (another incorrect political term) come to mind? How about when the childern’s choir sings with the adult choir in a Christmas cantata or for a special service? Please don’t get me wrong, either of these situations are great and I hope they will continue but let’s talk briefly about the impact having all ages come together to work towards a common goal and the benefits it can have.
In my previous position as a Worship Pastor, each year we would put together a full musical production at Christmas. If you have read my blog before, chances are you have heard about these productions almost ad nauseam. These would inlude roles for all ages, and so the cast age ranged from 4 to 74. I loved seeing the younger actors and singers interacting with the older ones. Relationships were formed. I still see some of these relationships continue to grow and thrive, and they started because of spending hours together in rehearsals and performances. I occasionally would even hear the younger people calling some of the older people “Grandma” and “Grandpa.” In our society where families are spread out acorss the country, or families are non-traditional, or relationships are severed for many reasons, the new relationships developed in intergenerational endeavors can help people find healing and peace.
At my current position working at a community center where our mission is to develop the God-given talents of our members, intergenerational programming is essential. However, it has to be more than just a program or event. It has to become a part of our community’s culture. How does that happen? I am convinced it only happens when relationships are forged. People must be given the opportunity to not just come together and say we did something intergenerational, but they truly get to know the people that come and they interact with them and have time to get to know them.
My challenge is to look at the programs I offer and see where this fits best and where there will be ways the young and old can interact in meaningful way with each other. It is more than just having my children’s choir sing with my adult choir. It is more than just having my youth kids visit and give gifts to residents in retirement communities. Do you see how I didn’t use the politically incorrect terms? It will take more effort and time on our part as leaders, but the benefits are great as we build stronger communities within our walls where people are genuinely connecting and developing relationships. Afterall, it is not the programs or events we do that will last for eternity, it is the lives we have touched and the relationships we have made.
Sing on, friend!
Editor’s note: Check out some recent releases from Hal Leonard and Shawnee Press by clicking on the links below: