A Posture of Learning & Intergenerational Ministry

My heart is filled with gratitude when I think about NYI. So many elements of who I am as a pastor have come through the opportunities and development granted to me by many in NYI who have shaped me.

While I was at the Leadership Conference in Kansas City, I had a brief conversation with Stretch Dean, the Lead Pastor at the Wollaston Church of the Nazarene in Quincy, Massachusetts. While discussing our work with up and coming leaders, he said to me, “We must constantly be working to become the best version of ourselves.” This has been a major takeaway for me as a leader from our time there.

With a posture of learning in mind and my partnership with the great people at the Fuller Youth Institute and their work on Growing Young and intergenerational dialogue, here are a few thoughts to consider as you navigate your own church context:

LANGUAGE MATTERS

So often we can assume we are intergenerational because we have people of all ages going to the same place. The difference between a multigenerational context and an intergenerational one has to do with life interaction. We have many church communities that have lots of ages represented but do not share life together. How would you answer that in your context?

When you use the term “intergenerational” in your church community, what do you understand that to mean? What is it you want people to understand about that terminology? Asking how people understand that can greatly help you learn whether you are getting across your intent.

IT TAKES TIME

Becoming an intergenerational community is like turning a cruise ship with an oar. We all know getting things done in the church can take a long time. The reality of implementing change in your context is slow and journey of several years. You will set yourself up for disappointment if you think it will all change in the next 12 months.

The good news is you don’t have to change everything in the next 12 months!

Begin to look at your church community and discover 1-2 (max) things that could be experimented with in the next 12 months to begin the process.

WRITE UP A SUCCESSFUL STORY 12 MONTHS FROM NOW

Learning to become a good storyteller is important to this process. We can’t try to be someone else, but what is the best version of yourself as a storyteller look like? Find some places where generational relationships exist and begin to tell those stories.

If you were to dream up what the ministry you are called to serve in looks like 12 months from now, what does that story look like? Dream together with a team of people that can write that story together to envision this successful reality.

After that, ask, “What are the steps needed to help this story become our reality?” You can then go over the details you need to work on to make that future story become your actual story.

IT’S A WORK OF THE PEOPLE

In my own church context, I have a family that has 12 kids. They live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house. The oldest is 23 and the youngest is a little over a year old. The family dynamic is amazing to watch.

Recently I sat down with the mom and she taught me something significant about her reality. She said that from the beginning when a new sibling was born into the family there was an expectation placed upon the older kids to step in and do their part to help the family rhythm flow. The older kids took care of the middle kids, the middle kids take care of the elementary kids, and the elementary kids step up and care for preschool and younger. The clinching line for the mother is this, “When everyone does their part, it works.”

That line is an invitation for all us as we continue our posture of learning as leaders. When every age steps in and does their part together, it works. Be encouraged! Our calling continues! We’re in this together! Let’s keep working to be the best version of ourselves!

You are loved!

Keegan Lenker

Keegan Lenker

Keegan currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Gig Harbor Church of the Nazarene in Gig Harbor, WA. Prior to this role, his journey has led him through arenas of youth ministry in Southern California, a position of Pastor of Intergenerational Discipleship, and the opportunity to coach churches in partnership with Fuller Youth Institute. His greatest joys are being a husband to Jayme and father to Joncee and Kaizlee. 
Keegan Lenker

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