Connecting the Generations (Romans 12, Issue 254)
Issue 254 — November 5, 2015
Connecting the Generations
Before Sunday worship at Excelsior United Methodist Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, I was introduced to Hannah Dudak and her mother, Shirley Dudak. Their pastor wanted me to see the Connecting the Generations program that Hannah organized and led on the first Sunday of each month.
After worship, I stepped into the G-Buddy room and found it full of energy with elementary-school-age children seated with senior adults working on a craft project together. I saw lots of smiles on the faces of the children and adults as they connected with one another.
Hannah Dudak is a senior at Chanhassen High School in Chanhassen, Minnesota. She received her Girl Scout Gold Award with the help of her pastor and church family at Excelsior United Methodist Church, a mid-size congregation in Excelsior, Minnesota.
The program is called Connecting the Generations. Hannah explained, “The issue that my project addressed was that there weren’t many events in my church to connect the various generations. I felt it was important to have everyone from kindergarten to seniors interact with one another. I knew if the generations would have more of a connection, the seniors would serve in the children’s events, and the Sunday school kids would help the seniors with various service opportunities throughout the year. I wasn’t trying to impact one specific age group; I wanted to make an impact on the entire congregation. Fortunately, everyone was excited about the program; and sign-up day was successful, with ten seniors willing to participate! Connections were made immediately among the generations."
Connecting the Generations events take place immediately following worship on the first Sunday of each month, September through May. The seniors and the KOOL kids (grades K-5) have time to talk and get to know one another while making crafts or playing games. When they are finished, the kids show their parents what they made and introduce their Generation Buddy or “G-buddy.”
“Before my Gold Award project, people had less interaction than they do now. Because of my project, Sunday school kids, their parents, and the seniors are all interacting each Sunday. There is a new and exciting vibe around the congregation because the generations are much more connected than they were before Connecting the Generations started last September (2014),” said Hannah.
This program is sustainable and has growth potential. Hannah has been contacted by area church officials to discuss the possibilities of implementing Connecting the Generations programming in other United Methodist congregations. “I have been so fortunate to belong to a church that is fully invested in my project, stands behind me one hundred percent and has helped me accomplish all my personal goals. I would like to thank Pastor Katie Schneider-Bryan and the church staff for their encouragement and full support.”
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- How does your congregation intentionally bring young and old together in ways that encourage connection and friendship?
- Disciple-making is a relational process. Disciples make disciples. How does your congregation encourage seasoned disciples to connect with children and youth to model discipleship to them?
Note: Shirley Dudak is a member of Excelsior United Methodist Church.
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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