Bringing the Generations Together By Dr. Holly Allen

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Holly Allen
Chair, InterGenerate Conference
Professor of Christian Ministries & Family Science
Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN

Throughout much of Christian history, the whole body of Christ, that is, all the generations, met together for ministry and worship as well as for most other gatherings; intergenerationality was the norm. However, in the last several decades, all but the smallest congregations have tended to
separate the generations regularly for learning, frequently for fellowship and service, and sometimes (or always) for worship.

Becoming Intentionally Intergenerational
Recently church leaders across the United States and around the globe have begun to question the wisdom of perennially separating the generations and to reconsider the spiritual benefits of intergenerational ministry.

Intergenerational ministry occurs when a congregation intentionally combines the generations together in mutual serving, sharing, or learning within the core activities of the church in order to live out being the body of Christ to each other and the greater community. [1]

Leaders in evangelical churches, emerging churches, mainline churches, missional churches, charismatic churches, Catholic churches—all types of Christian communities—are asking the same question, “How can we bring the generations back together?”

InterGenerate 2017
In 2017, we responded to this avid interest by calling to life a new cross-denominational, international gathering called InterGenerate. [2]

We believe that the Spirit of God is at work formatively—through the community’s worship, through the teaching, through modeling and mentoring relationships, and through spiritually-empowered and gifted roles—in special ways when believers across the life span are present and participating together.

InterGenerate 2017 was a big success:

  • Close to 150 participants arrived from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and South Africa and from 25 states.
  • A broad range of Christian traditions was represented: Anglican, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventists, the Uniting Church of Australia, and several community churches.
  • These participants were senior pastors, professors, graduate and doctoral students, children’s ministers, youth ministers, small groups ministers, curriculum writers, Christian education directors, and other church leaders.

It was a wonderfully diverse, engaged group of people passionately interested in bringing the generations together in our churches.

InterGenerate 2019
InterGenerate 2019 is happening May 20-22, 2019 at Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee. Over 150 participants from across the States and around the world and from over a dozen Christian faith traditions have already registered.

The purpose of InterGenerate 2019 is to bring together practitioners and academics in order to share current intergenerational research, surface intergenerational principles, discuss the challenges and benefits of intergenerational ministry, and share effective intergenerational

Along the way researchers and ministry practitioners will interact with one another, creating a collaborative synergy that will generate fresh intergenerational ministry implications and perspectives.

If you are just beginning the intergenerational journey or if you have already caught the vision and want to become more intentionally intergenerational in outlook and practice, this conference is for you and your ministry colleagues.

The InterGenerate conference will address two pressing questions:
1) First, and most importantly: Why should we bring the generations back together?
2) Second, the necessary consequent question: How can we bring the generations together?

If we jump directly into the how question without sufficiently addressing the why question, we will fail.

Our keynote speakers, along with our paper presenters, our mini-TED talk speakers, our workshop presenters, and our Taste-and-See presenters will not only share how they are intentionally ministering, worshipping, and learning together intergenerationally, they will also explore the foundations for intergenerational ministry:

  • Biblical and theological foundations for bringing the generations together
  • The sociological and theoretical reasons for becoming more intentionally intergenerational
  • Empirical support for intergenerational ministry
  • The benefits for children, teens, emerging, young, middle, and older adults

And through it all, they will share stories from their Christian communities that illustrate how intergenerational ministry is forming children, teens, emerging adults, and everyone else into the image of Christ.

It is our belief that intergenerational Christian experiences uniquely and especially nurture Christian spiritual formation across all ages. Come join the conversation.

You may learn more and register for the conference at
You may also wish to view a brief video at


[1] Holly Catterton Allen & Christine Lawton Ross, Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship (InterVarsity Academic, 2012), p. 17.
[2] The InterGenerate planning team consists of ten Millennials, Xers, and Boomers who are committed to helping churches bring the generations back together.

2 Responses

  1. Christians need to know that other people have had their share of problems too. Today younger people believe that they are the only people to have problems and everyone else got everything easily (which we know they did). People need to be able to talk to and understand each other. First though, people need to have a tiny bit of respect for others and be willing to try to understand what the other person is going through.

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