Psalm 71:18 ESV
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
Two weeks ago, I was tagged in a picture on Facebook of my youngest son working on his memory verses in AWANA with one of our wonderful volunteers. The one who took the picture wanted to make sure I got the picture, not only because it had a picture of my son learning the Word, but because it was a wonderful picture about who we are as the body of believers—steeped in intergenerational relationships. But the story doesn’t end there…
You see, this gentleman helping my “wild child” (seriously, the fact that he isn’t moving in the picture is shocking!) is not a grandparent or relative of any child in our AWANA program. He simply loves working with children and investing in the next generation. He gets it…he is faithful to serve even though he probably could simply say, “you know what, I’ve done my part; it’s time for someone else to serve.” But no, he serves not only faithfully, but intentionally. A couple of weeks ago, he called me and was very concerned that he had been too hard on my child (impossible, by the way) because he had not finished memorizing his memory verse. He wanted to discuss how we can help him commit these verses to memory and how he could help customize his approach to teaching/coaching him so he’ll be able to hide the Word of God in his heart. I can’t tell you how this thrills a father’s heart to hear someone so intentional about investing in my child. This gentlemen is a blessing to our church and to my family even in the midst of his personal grief. He just lost his precious wife in the last year after many years of marriage. Over the last year, he hasn’t curled up into a ball and let his grief consume him; rather, he has continued to serve the Lord and invest in kids.
This story is a perfect picture of the church in action…all generations learning and working together…old teaching young, and young keeping old energized and feeling useful. Encouraging and using volunteers in children’s ministry of all ages helps cement the fact that “we’re in this together.” While this is an extreme age difference of how intergenerational ministry may be used in the local church, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve used youth that have graduated from children’s ministry to serve in children’s ministry as well. Often youth have a penchant for technology, crafts, or recreational ministries that can used to build relationships while modeling servant behavior. The youth view leadership positions as a honor and the kids love seeing kids closer to their own age paving the way.
There are many ways that all ages can serve outside the typical ministry positions within a local church body. Some are found by necessity due to size and availability (or lack thereof), but in the end, the church is stronger and better when everyone works within the gift-set given to the glory of God and the building of His Kingdom.