The Fall 2012 “RCA Today” magazine includes an article about helping our young people develop a faith that lasts. Based on research over a six-year period, researchers determined that a significant factor was how much a church made their young people feel welcomed and valued. Special events and high-tech programs were less significant than adults making an effort to cross the generational lines. Do we want to get to know our young people and do we invite them to go into places where they can be a larger part of God’s ministry, right alongside us?
Upon reflection, the FRC family does provide many intergenerational opportunities. Bell choir has happily incorporated three generations of bell-ringers at one time. Overnights and day trips to Warwick give adults and young people a relaxed setting to get to know each other better, whether they hike, swim, break bread, sing or perform plays together. Coffee hours are wonderful when kids and adults combine forces—have you had the good fortune to sample one of Allison’s apple pies? Young adults, in the company of older adults, can be seen cleaning and organizing the nursery, tending a toddler to give their parent a break, sending cards and making video greetings to our shut-ins, singing carols through the neighborhood at Christmas time, or working intently together on a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Intergenerational plays as part of worship have been delightful and inspiring. It appears that FRC adults genuinely appreciate the contributions of our youth and thoroughly enjoy their energy and fresh approach to things.
The invitation to young people to be included in the life of the whole church seems to come naturally to this particular congregation. That is not always the case in other churches and it certainly was not the case in previous generations where children were “seen but not heard”. As a result, our young people will more likely feel welcomed and valued. They will have numerous opportunities to grow into an adult faith by being in relationship with the adults in their faith family.