It was around 10:00 pm sometime in April that I received a text message from Meztli Morales, one of the Waukesha Seventh-day Adventist Church young adults. “Sorry to text you so late, but I have to ask you: Our church has a group of elderly folks, and I’m not sure if this is possible, but could we communicate and ask them if they need help with outdoor work or getting their groceries? I would be happy to help out.” This is how the project, “Be the Light,” all started.
One of the core values of our church is “Intergenerational Fellowship.” As the term suggests, to be intergenerational means to “intentionally cultivate meaningful interaction between generations.” By this value we strive to go beyond simply being a multigenerational body in form, but also to be functionally intergenerational, in order to be more effective in ministry, to promote stronger bonding, and to promote spiritual growth. In times past we had tended to focus leadership only on the older and more experienced members. Now, with these intergenerational efforts, voices of the youth are meaningfully integrated and valued in working together to further the Everlasting Gospel to the local community.
So when I received this text message from Meztli I became super excited. Divine inspiration has led these younger leaders to take up leadership and initiative in the mission of the church. This would turn out to be a good moment in promoting an intergenerational culture. Also, I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity to provide for the community in this time of crisis. Two birds with one stone.
The following day our young adult leaders, Rayden Balisnomo and Meztli Morales, and I met online to discuss how we could make the project happen. We were reminded of this passage from the Bible, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18 (NKJV) The mission was to identify and provide support and services for those that are in need within the church and surrounding community during this social lockdown. The goal was to reach the elderly, the sick, and the high at-risk in order to provide them aid on the basis of simplicity and practicality.
The next step for our young leaders was to quickly gather a list of those that could provide service and of those that were in need of service. In order for this project to develop, it was necessary for all members to get involved in contributing to this effort. Following a list of criteria, the services that were needed were: making face masks, grocery delivery, rides to essential locations, care package, yard work, online tutoring for younger students, etc. For this to truly become an intergenerational effort, there was considerable measures taken to ensure that all generations were involved and had a part to contribute in this effort.
This project is special, as our young leaders took the initiative. This is a positive change for the church as the church attempts to grow young. These leaders are coordinating with other ministry leaders of the church to execute the services mentioned above. We don’t want this to be a one-time project during this time of pandemic. We want to convert this crisis into a movement of opportunity, and this opportunity into a long-term ministry. We plan to continue serving the church and the community even when this crisis is over and when we start the new norm.
Because (in John 6) that boy committed his lunch box to Jesus, Jesus was able to multiply it and feed the 5000 (and women and children). In the same way, this one text message is helping our church grow the snowball to nurture this intergenerational culture, and moreover, we can continue serving the church and the community. There is great joy in serving others. And there is greater joy when it is an intergenerational effort.
If you are interested in knowing more about an “Intergenerational Church,” or sharing your thoughts on how our churches can respond to the COVID-19 crisis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Myoung Kwon, Waukesha District Pastor
 Allen, Holly Catterton, and Christine Lawton Ross. 2012. Intergenerational Christian Formation : Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 19.