Multigernerational versus Intergenerational Churches

Spiral of Hands from Flickr via Wylio

2008 lostintheredwoods, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

Here is an article that introduces some discussion about Multigenerational Churches versus Intergenerational Communities.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • In a MULTIgenerational church, the generations can show up on the same day and in the same place, can all be in the attendance rolls and partner files, but not be interrelated or interconnected in life or experience.
  • An imbalance between the generations can lead to problems like…
    • Older generations have the money and resources to keep the lights on, so their preferences, advice, and past experiences hold more weight in the direction of the church.
    • Younger generations are “the future,” so massive shifts in worship, style, look, and structure of the church are risked to head towards that future.

Here are some additional resources concerning building an Intergenerational Community.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Is your faith community – Intergenerational or Multigenerational?
  2. Does your leadership reflect the diversity of the body of Christ by generations?
  3. What is the first step for your community for moving towards a intergenerational church?


Anatomy of Generations – by Wrong Hands

I came across this cartoon, and needed to share it with my readers.  There is plenty more laughter at the Wrong Hands website –  Click here.

anatomy of generations

I believe that laughter can be used to build bridges between the generations as long as it is equally given to each age group.  In this comic, as a Gen Xer, I am just happy that the author acknowledges our existence (sniff-sniff).

All joking aside –

There is a need for inter-generational relationships within the church.  Here are some links if you are interested in learning more about how to help your community connect.

David - Prof 2If you are looking for someone to speak to your community or staff about working together, contact Dr. G. David Boyd at

The Power of Generational Mediators

A “mediator” serves as a conduit, or channel, between two parties in conflict, seeking to ensure that both feel understood, respected, and able to contribute towards an agreeable solution.

As a pastor, I have served as a mediator numerous times – negotiating house rules, establishing consensus over new policies in the church, or seeking healing in a relationship.

© 2010 Eric Danley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Within the church, disagreements can erupt between different generations due to disparate values, beliefs, and practices. I have stood up in defense of Millennials amidst a boardroom of angry Baby boomers, and I have defused frustration among disillusioned Millennials in hallway conversations.

As churches seek to become more intergenerational in their programming, conflict will inevitably arise. Does your community have people who are equipped to serve as intermediaries between the generations? Mediators of generational conflict can restore peace and unity in three ways.

1.    Mediators understand.

Effective mediators are “swift to hear, slow to speak.” (James 1:19) They ask great questions and are motivated to understand another’s perspective. They want to know the “what,” but will keep digging until they also discover the “whys.” Before bringing together conflicting parties, mediators will seek to understand each group’s desires, values, and practices.

2.     Mediators translate.

During times of conflict, fear and anger can limit or completely block reasonable communication. Mediators are able to remove these obstacles and promote effective communication. By knowing those involved, they will choose words and expressions designed to calm emotions and facilitated mutual understanding between the parties. Fruitful mediation takes time, and all sides must remain patient through the process, believing the results will be worth the effort.

3.    Mediators build bridges.

In the midst of discord, we tend to focus on our differences and perceive our opposition as villains. Dehumanizing others relieves our own sense of guilt, allowing us to justify hurtful words, thoughts, and actions. Mediators remind each side of their common ground, and build bridges towards mutual respect, understanding, and love. As human beings, we can always find some common ground in personal fears, dreams, and emotions. Within the church, mediators lead us to our common ground in Jesus and His call upon our lives.

If your community seeks to become intergenerational, who has God provided as potential mediators?  Seek out and train individuals who are able to value varied perspectives, who can communicate with patience, and who know how to build bridges upon common faith and love.  Well-trained mediators are essential to maintaining a healthy, united community.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  This article first appeared on, where David is a regular contributor.

Prerequisite for Intergenerational Ministry

Recent research was released by the Pew Research Center, displaying “the Millennial Exodus” from the church. I believe that one reason why young adults leave the church is because of Ageism.

© 2007 Florencia&Pe, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based upon age.  “Ageism” was first coined by Robert Neil Butler in 1971, and is displayed through stereotyping various ages and generations, disdain and avoiding contact with different age-groups, and practices that discriminate services based upon age. While the elderly are often the targets of ageism, emerging adults are also victims of its abuse.

Ageism raises it head ever time that jokes are made about a certain demographic within the church.  Ageism smiles when roadblocks keep the young (and old) from leadership and service roles.  Ageism cheers in victory when the “youth” alone are designated for a specific project of the church.  Ageism reigns when generations glare across the aisle at one another rather than standing hand in hand.

© 2007 Mike Renlund, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

The Good News according to Erdman Palmore is that “Religious organization are uniquely able to use exhortation to reduce ageism because most people belong to one and because they can call on the authority of the Bible and other teachings of their religion.“ (Palmore, Ageism: Negative and Positive)

As followers of Christ, we hold powerful answers to ageing and death for our world.  The church also has a single unifying cause (Hint:  The answer starts with a “J” and ends with “esus”).  Armed with a positive perspectives of ageing and death, the church is equipped to build thriving intergenerational communities.

However, when is the last time that you heard a message, homily, blog-post, or devotional on this topic?  Even as I write, I wonder whether or not anyone will read this post.

Intergenerational is a buzzword that you hear every day within youth ministry circles.  In order to create healthy intergenerational communities, we must confront ageism and develop strategies for individual and community change.

© 2010 Eric Danley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

When you combat ageism, you stand as a warrior for church unity.  Don’t simply be a spokesperson for the youth of the church.  I call you to blaze new trails which allow them to speak for themselves. Don’t strive for intergenerational communities until you know that they won’t attack each other.

If you don’t know where to start combating ageism, then look inside.  Ask yourself the question, “How does ageism affect you?”  May your answer lead you to the cross, and start you on a journey towards healing.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.

7 Reasons NOT to bring Emerging Adults under your Youth Ministry

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014.

One of the first obstacles to overcome when a community desires to minister to emerging adults is the question of leadership.  As already overwhelmed staff and volunteers exchanged fearful glances around the table, this question of responsibility often keeps church communities from moving ahead.  Continue reading

Beyond Mentoring – A Call for Symbiotic Relationships

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2015.

Mentoring is a hot topic these days within the church.  Many people say they want to find a mentor, however, few actually do the work (or find the courage) to acquire one.  Sharon Parks writes, “Restoring mentoring as a cultural force could significantly revitalize our institutions and provide the intergenerational glue to address some of our deepest and most pervasive concerns.” (Parks 2000, 12)  This quote acknowledges that our deepest concerns about our society and the church cannot be solved by one sector of society, but will require a unified vision of all generations.

Many young adults seek after mentors within their vocational fields in order to build their knowledge, contacts, and other resources.  Emerging adults are taught to seek after mentors in order to advance.    This perspective of mentoring further defines mentoring as a relationship where one gives to another.  One partner of the relationship is a gatekeeper to money, fame, experience, or advancement.

Mentoring is defined as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.”  (Merriam-Webster, Online).  This definition clearly expresses a unidirectional relationship where one gives, and the other receives.  However, anyone who has spent significant time with a person from another generation knows that both individuals give, and both individuals receive.  Healthy human relationships are omnidirectional where giving and receiving moves in both directions.

As Millennials come of age, a new perspective of mentorship has emerged, one which is changing our understanding and praxis of mentorship.  Kinnamen states, “Are you open to “reverse” mentoring, wherein you allow younger leaders to challenge your faith and renew the church?”  (Kinnamen, 205) Setran and Kiesling in their excellent book Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood say, “…guidance still desperately needed but it is a guidance that is dialogical and mutual rather than unidirectional mentoring (Setran, 206).  We must acknowledge the interdependence of human relationships among generations.  While many resort to the word mentoring, the concept has changed and requires us to go beyond.

© 2011 Lakshmi Sawitri, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Scientists use the term symbiosis to describe relationships that exist for the mutual benefit of each individual.  One example of a symbiotic relationship is the Goby Fish and Snapping Shrimp.  The near-blind shrimp relies on the eyes of the Goby fish while constructs and maintains borrows on the ocean floor.  With one flap of his tail, the fish communicates to his partner that danger is present.  Another example is the African Oxpecker’s relationship with various large African animals.  Larger animals are cleared of ticks by the Oxpecker who live off the ticks (and according to more recent findings, the blood of their host as well).  Symbiosis illustrates the interdependence relationships that God designed humans to develop. (Here is a scientific article on the topic.)

© 2009 Ian White, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

We were designed by God to be in relationships with others.  Interdependent relationships cause growth and maturity.  Interdependent relationships supply love and encouragement.  Interdependent relationships provide personal significance (“My life matters to another person.”)

The time has come when we are called to go beyond mentoring.  We must seek relationships in which we give and receive.  We must move from independence into interdependence.  We must call others to do the same.


  • Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by Setran and Kiesling
  • You Lost Me by David Kinnamen
  • Big Questions, Worthy Dreams by Sharon Parks

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to provide resources to parents and churches as they seek to help emerging adults.

Why the “Teen Section” in your church is NOT a sign of church health, but of sickness.

© 2010 Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Several years ago, I interviewed for a position in Ohio.  Whenever talking about their church’s vitality, they would always reference the “Teen Section” during worship services.  For those who have not heard the term, “Teen Section” is an area of the auditorium where all the adolescents sit together each week during services.  The search committee would discuss how large the section was.  They would discuss how faithful the section was.  They would discuss how active the section was during worship.

This was not the first time that I had heard a teen section is a sign of a healthy church, and I doubt that it will be the last.  During the interview, I held my tongue, but here is what I wanted to say:

Five Reasons Why Your “Teen Section” promotes sickness within your community.

1.  It trains adolescents to seek out and require “peer-driven” experiences.

Adolescents who are limited to a “Teen Section” experience of Christianity are going to struggle as they phase out of age-segregated programming.  I believe that one reason why so many emerging adults leave the church is because they graduated from youth group, and gave up trying to find the “post-teen” section.

2.  It teaches our community that teenagers are not a part of normal human society, but are a subset with strange interests, wild behaviors, and raging hormones.

It is good for adolescents to have their own space.  Due to their raging hormones and rebellious behavior, they are “other,” meaning not like us, and barely human.  It promotes low expectations among teenagers, and continues the myth that rebellion is a natural part of the adolescence experience.

3.  It separates parents from their children during corporate worship.

Worship with kidsWorship services are a time when my children can see what parents value, what parents believe, and what parents feel about faith.  Research by Sticky Faith reveals that only 12% percent of youth have a regular dialogue with their mom on faith or life issues.  This same research shows that only 5% have regular faith or life conversations with their dad.  (Sticky Faith, 71)  By establishing and promoting a “teen section,” we have ceased to support the spiritual development that happens within the familial context.

4.  It isolates adolescents from the body of Christ, leaving the community weak and sickly.

It is not simply that Emerging Adults need us, but the church must realize that we need them.  I have never heard someone say, “Wow, our church is so healthy.  You should see our retirement section! Their section is so vibrant and they love being with each other.”  Seriously, think about it.  We would not say it about other parts of the body of Christ; therefore, we should not say it about adolescents.  The body of Christ is at peak strength when we do not see another’s faults, money, race, status, or age, but serve hand in hand without discrimination. 

5.  It perpetuates the myth that “peer-driven” relationships and age-segregated programming are crucial to spiritual development.

While I do desire that my children develop friendships with peers, I also want them to have an entire network of people at various life stages who will encourage them in their faith.  While popular in our society, age-segregation is not Biblical or healthy.  By not speaking up for the unity of the body of Christ, we continue to promote segregation and ageism within the church.

As we consider the “teen-section,” each church must ask what values, ideals, and practices should be developed within its community.

As Christians, we often promote the “Teen Section” as a sign of life because we as the church feel beaten up in this life.  The world is winning the war for our kids.  We are losing.  Pointing out the “Teen Section” gives us hope for the future of the church, and makes us feel better.

We must remember it is His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Let us work for new signs of life in our communities.  Lives being changed.  Hope being found.  Acceptance being granted.  Care being received.  Love being spread.  The Kingdom being restored.


David Boyd 1 (1)Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  You can follow his publications on Twitter at  @G_David_Boyd as he writes on Manhood, Emerging Adults, Faith, and the church.  He is the proud father of three children – Josiah, Andrew, and Tobi.


Resources Referenced:

Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark


Why Youth Groups should Require Warning Labels.

Medicines are required by law to warn the user about the risks involved when using them.  Parents and students should know about the risks involved in participating in youth group.

No, I am not talking about the physical danger involved in playing dodgeball in a dark room after four cans of Mountain Dew and no sleep, or drinking strange concoctions mixed in a blender by the youth pastor.  Parents should be warned that an unhealthy social environment for your child might be deadly for your child’s faith.

Youth group is not something that your child has to attend.

God doesn’t command it.

The Bible doesn’t require it.

Many people have flourished spiritually for centuries without it.  Not only is youth group something that your child doesn’t have to attend, youth group could be detrimental to their spiritual health.  

The concept of “youth group” where youth gather alone to do spiritual community and worship really started in the 1940’s with the Young Life movement, and was further developed by the Youth for Christ Movement in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Since that time it appears to have become a necessity for most Western churches.

I was a youth pastor for over twelve years.  I saw the spiritual lives of many teens change as they were introduced to Jesus, and accepted within our youth community.  I am a believer in youth workers.  If they are volunteers, then they are underpaid.  They pour out their energy and lives in order to love and change the lives of teens.  If they are employed staff, then they are under-paid.  They do it because they believe in the Kingdom of God.

However for all their work and effort, youth workers can cannot control the spiritual outcome of their group on your child.  I also believe that if they are honest, they will admit they have seen the negative affect that their ministry can have on adolescents.

1.  Youth group could negatively affect your child’s faith because it is a peer-centered environment.

A peer-centered environment is a community that is built upon a similar age demographic.  While some peer-centered environments may be structured and led by someone outside the age demographic (like youth group), this person cannot control the group. Peers set the standards and values, and control the ethos of the group.  Our schools, sports teams, and churches are built around that concept that peer-centered communities are the best way to build community.

Some individuals thrive in communities based solely on their peers, while others merely survive.  There are even some adolescents who when placed with peers simply shut down.  During my adolescence, I was very involved in youth group, but it was not the peers that helped my faith stay alive as much as my connections with multiple generations.  My grandfather, my Bible teachers, my co-workers, and my youth pastor and his wife were all instrumental in my discipleship process.

While some adolescents perform well in peer-centered groups, this type of environment is not beneficial for all adolescents.  Especially since many of these adolescents are balancing not just one of these groups, but several peer-centered groups at once (including school, youth group, sports teams).   The emotional and social stress of fitting in with multiple social circles can be overwhelming.

2.  A Child’s social development is tied with their faith development.  

When attending youth group, your child’s faith development becomes tied to their social development within the group.   If the experience is good, then it will often result in positive affects on their faith.  However, a negative experience results in negative affects on their faith journey.  Parents should have an understanding of how the social dynamics of youth group affects your child’s faith.

Even if a child has a positive social community at youth group, that stability could disappear overnight (due to a romantic break-up, or fight between friends, or a friend moving away).  If your child’s entire spiritual influence is based solely on this community, then it could jeopardize their spiritual maturation.  Being rejected by a church group can be perceived by an adolescent as being rejected by God.

Parents have often asked if they should make their child go to youth group, but there is not a simple answer to that question.  Sometimes, parents wrongly view participation in youth group as the spiritual solution for a child’s struggles.

In order to avoid these issues, parents should make sure that their children have multiple sources of spiritual influences in their lives.  Here are some questions to ask yourselves:

  1.  Is your child apart of an inter-generational community at your church?
  2. Do they have spiritual aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas who can model faith, and encourage them in the midst of struggles?
  3. Does your child have a friend(s) their age who also claims faith in Christ?
  4. Is your child working with younger children within the church, displaying to them what it means to love others and follow Christ?

If you are seeing healthy spiritual development in your child, then there is no need to change.  However, if you are unsure, and you don’t know why…then maybe it is time to reevaluate.  Warning labels do not mean that no one should use them, but that there are risks of which parents should be aware.

The purpose of this article is not to destroy your faith in the church, but to call parents to reflect and examine how participation in a “Christian” youth group is affecting their child’s spiritual development.

Spiritual community is essential for healthy development, youth group is not.

An Apology from the Millenials

The blame game and name calling continues.  Everywhere you turn in the media, you find a major news source either yelling at the “Millenials.”  Time recently put an article on their front page calling them the ME ME ME Generation (future review to come).

They are spoiled, entitled, lazy, and simply a detriment to all of society.  This is why they have issued a public apology to all of us, but particularly to the great “baby boomers.”  (Partially because no one even gives a rip about Generation X – of which I am supposed to be apart).

I believe that this video does a good job at poking fun at both generations, and shows how ridiculous this pattern of blaming other generations has become.  It is hurtful to families, society, and churches.

We suck and we are sorryPlease check it out by clicking on the link below.