Periodicals, educational institutions, and spiritual leaders are weighing in on an up-and-coming approach to discipleship and evangelism. But is a multigenerational approach to ministry in fact a new idea and is it an important angle in ministry? Or is it just another fad that will come and then be gone?
While the term multigenerational is not specifically used in the Bible, there are countless examples of intergenerational ministry. A command from the Lord for this approach is found as early in Scripture as Deuteronomy 4:9 to teach and instruct “your children and your children’s children.” In addition, Titus 2:3–5 guides older women to teach and encourage younger women.
While it can be easy to target a specific age group, thinking about ways to incorporate several different generations in ministry while maintaining relevance to each can seem like a daunting task. One of the easiest ways to begin introducing a multigenerational approach to ministry to women in church is with group discipleship.
Jane Heeke, Assemblies of God Kansas Ministry Network Women’s Ministries women director, created a 9-month discipleship program, Women of Valor, that has recently yielded results. The program utilizes a group discipleship approach mixed with individual mentorship. Women of Valor has reached girls just entering their teenage years all the way up to women in their mid-80s.
“Every woman, despite her age, has a hunger to know the deep things of God,” Heeke says. “Biblical truths and scriptural fundamentals feed the God-given desires that all women have from childhood through our senior years.”
Likewise, church planter Loralie Crabtree has witnessed incredible collaboration between women of different generations in her most recent pastorate, Hope Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
“One thing that was really important to us as we started the church plant was to have a multiplicity of voices at the table to feed into what we call group discernment,” Crabtree says. Her approach to church planting called for a collaborative team of diverse men and women to help mold and shape the congregation. Crabtree has elicited the help of women in their 20s to women in their 70s.
“It is important to understand how those from different generations feel because when we forge the way together, it lasts longer and takes us further,” Crabtree says.
While often it seems as though only older generations pass along knowledge to younger Christians, AG General Superintendent Doug Clay says people of different ages can learn and benefit from each another.
“In a multigenerational approach to ministry, it is not just good for a younger attendee to be around a seasoned saint,” Clay says. “The passion of the younger generation can have a positive influence on the older group.”
More resources on ministering to women are available at AG Women.