20s and 30s have a deep need for relationships. Once you start a ministry to this group one of the things that happens is they tend to become isolated from the rest of the congregation because they develop such close bonds with each other. That is not all bad and is really to be expected. However, I think it is important to be intentional about getting them to form relationships with older Christians as well. There are many reasons why this is important. First, they need to know more mature Christians and learn from them. Second, one day they will be older and need to be willing to be connected with those outside the 20s & 30s ministry.
Here are a couple of ways of connecting 20s and 30s upward to the older generations. Some of these we have tried, others we are going to try in the near future:
- Encourage them to periodically attend another Bible class or small group. Usually young adult ministries have their own Sunday morning class. It is important that they go to other classes every once in a while so that they can form connections with people outside the group. I have considered passing a sign up sheet at the beginning of the year and have people sign up for a quarter in another class where they go for a quarter with the intention of getting to know some older people in that class.
- Marriage mentoring. There are some excellent marriage mentoring programs for the young marrieds in your group. This is a meaningful way for young couples to connect with and learn from an older couple in the congregation. Ed Gray of Harding School of Theology has some good material you can use called 12 Conversations.
- Invite older members into your 20s Bible class. Have them share their story. Let the class ask them questions/interview them about life, faith, marriage, and things they wish they had known when they were 25.
- We have made several of our young men who have small children deacons and co-deacons in various areas. This allows them to serve alongside other deacons and learn from them.
- Get to know the elders. When our young people have questions or concerns we have taken time for them in elders’ meetings to voice their concerns and get guidance from the elders. It is important that our young people feel like they have a voice and that there are elders who care enough to listen. It also helps them to get to know the elders who they might not otherwise connect with. We have one elder who periodically takes some of our 20s & 30s out to lunch on Sunday. He also attends our Bible class and various outside activities with the sole purpose of getting to know them and letting them know there is an elder there for them who they can come to if they need to.
How have you tried getting ministries to be more inter-generational so we can better practice passages like 1 Peter 5 & 1 Tim 5:1-2?