Leading Intergenerational Service Projects that Stick

The following is part of Fuller Youth Institute’s “Sticky Faith” research:

Serving together beyond the church can be a powerful catalyst for the intergenerational relationships young people need. Whether these are weekly or monthly experiences in your community or short-term mission trips out of the country, following are a few helpful tips based on what we’ve learned from experienced leaders:

1. Start small. 

While we do know several youth pastors who canceled their typical summer youth mission trip so they could host an intergenerational trip, few leaders attempt that kind of leap as a first step. Look for a local opportunity to serve alongside adults in your congregation or jump on board with something another ministry is already doing. Serving with your children’s ministry can also be a great first step.

2. Give lots of framing. 

Many leaders have found that they need to frame the “why” of serving together both for young people and for adults. You might want to share the insights from Sticky Faith that point to the importance of intergenerational connection. For example, share that every young person needs a web of support that ideally includes at least five nonparental adults. Teenagers with such a web in place tend to stick with faith and church into adulthood. Serving together creates a natural context for building these kinds of supportive relationships.


Fuller Youth Institute