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Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship


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“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” —Psalm 145:4

Most churches and faith communities segment their ministries by age and generation. The kids go to children’s church, the teens go to youth group. Worship services are geared toward different generational preferences, and small groups gather people at the same life stage, whether singles, young marrieds, parents, or empty nesters. In some congregations, people may never interact with those of other ages.

But it was not always so. Throughout biblical tradition and the majority of history, communities of faith included people of all ages together in corporate worship, education, and ministry. The church was not just multigenerational; it was intergenerational, with the whole church together as one family and people of all ages learning from one another in common life.

In this comprehensive text, Holly Allen and Christine Lawton offer a complete framework for intentional intergenerational Christian formation. They provide the theoretical foundations for intergenerationality, showing how learning and spiritual formation are better accomplished through intergenerational contexts. It is not just elders teaching youth; learning also takes place when adults discover fresh insights from children. Then the authors give concrete guidance for intergenerational praxis on how worship, learning, community, and service can all be achieved intergenerationally. Case studies of intergenerational congregations provide models for how a culture of intergenerationality can be created in local churches.

This volume serves as an essential guide for all preparing for and involved in congregational ministry and formation. Discover the riches of intergenerational ministry, and let all generations commend the works of God to one another.

Resource Experts
  • Offers a complete framework for intentional intergenerational Christian formation
  • Examines how learning and spiritual formation are better accomplished through intergenerational contexts
  • Provides an essential guide for all preparing for and involved in congregational ministry and formation

Part One: Generational Realities

  • What Is the Problem?
  • How Did We Get Here? Why Churches Tended to Separate the Generations
  • Why Bring the Generations Back Together? The Benefits of Intergenerationality
  • What Shall We Name This Approach?

Part Two: Biblical, Theological and Theoretical Support

  • Feasts, Jehoshaphat and House Churches: Biblical Foundations
  • Growing Each Other Up: Theoretical Foundations
  • Midwives, Tailors and Communities of Practice: Learning Theory
  • The Trinity, Koinonia and the Body: Theological Foundations

Part Three: Support from the Social Sciences

  • Becoming Christian in Community: “Religious Socialization”
  • The Very Old and the Very Young: Contributions from Gerontology
  • Millennials, Xers, Boomers and Silents: Generational Theory
  • By the Numbers: Empirical Research

Part Four: Intergenerational Christian Formation Practices

  • Creating a Culture of Intergenerationality
  • Intergenerational Worship
  • Intergenerational Learning Experiences
  • Intergenerationality and Story Sharing
  • Intergenerational Service and Missions
  • Intergenerational Small Groups
  • Cross-Generational Relationships in Multicultural Churches
  • Intergenerationality and Megachurches


  • Appendix A: Forty Intergenerational Ideas
  • Appendix B: Intergenerational Ministry Resources
  • Appendix C: Biblical Passages that Reflect an Intergenerational Outlook
This book is for pastors, lay leaders and professional church educators and students who want to model congregational life on the kingdom of God instead of marketing strategies designed to appeal to generational narcissism based on individual preference. This is one book that will both encourage and equip congregations to be less ‘conformed to the world,’ less prone to say, ‘I have no need for you.’ This is a book that argues persuasively from solid research, as well as the biblical mandate, for congregations to really ‘love one another.’ This book is honest about the costly demands of intentional intergenerational development as well as its rich rewards.

—Robbie F. Castleman, author, Parenting in the Pew

Drawing on classical developmental theories and biblical interpretation, Allen and Ross offer evangelicals a useful guide to the benefits and practices of intergenerational ministry. Their examples of multiage small groups and the true stories of multigenerational interactions included throughout the text are particularly helpful.

—Karen Marie Yust, Union Presbyterian Seminary

Allen and Ross have opened up a critical issue for thoughtful ministry leaders to consider. We have recognized for some time the strengths and limitations of age-segregated ministry but not had strong advocates to help us consider ways to strengthen our ministry efforts through intergenerational approaches. This book is a welcome guide to show us the needs, consider the biblical foundations for intergenerational ministry and learn from recent research about how people grow in their interactions with others from different generations. The final section on intergenerational Christian formation practices is worth the price of the whole book. If you care about the Christian formation of children, youth and adults in your church, you have to read this book and begin to put into practice what you have learned!

—Dr. Kevin E. Lawson, director, Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and editor of the Christian Education Journal

Holly Catterton Allen (PhD, Talbot School of Theology) is professor of family science and Christian ministries at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she holds a joint appointment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Bible and Ministry. She teaches undergraduate courses such as Nurturing Spiritual Development in Children and Family Ministry and has previously taught at John Brown University, Biola University, and Abilene Christian University.

Christine Lawton (PhD, St. Louis University) is currently the executive director of teacher programming at PathLight International. Her background includes professor/director of Christian education at Concordia University in Irvine, California, congregational youth and adult ministry, inner-city teaching, and international education consulting. She is also the author of several Bible studies and Sunday school curriculum resources. She particularly enjoys intergenerational, international, multi-cultural, Christian education, or beach-oriented activities.


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    Digital list price: $29.99
    Save $7.00 (23%)