by Karen DeBoer
“Profoundly moving.” “Beautifully chaotic.” “An incredible gift.”
Those are the words I heard again and again when I asked people to describe their intergenerational small groups.
Something else they say frequently: “It’s difficult to find Bible study resources we can use with all ages.”
Yet intergenerational small groups thrive. Faith grows in such gatherings through the sharing of lives and the stories of God’s faithfulness in them, the offering of prayers, the breaking of bread, and what Suzie Lane of GenOn Ministries refers to as the “mutual investments” made in each other.
Spiritual growth can’t be programmed, but great resources are important. As someone who is part of an intergenerational small group (we call ours a “missional family”) and who works in resource development, I set out to find resources that could be used in three ways:
- as a method for gathering
- as a segue to storytelling
- as a connection to Bible reading.
Every item on the list below fits those criteria.
Each photo from Vibrant Faith’s Visual Faith Project can generate a thousand words. Buy a package of images, spread them out, and invite each person to select a photo that does one of the following:
- shows how you are feeling today
- reminds you of the week you’ve just experienced
- makes you think of your family/your neighborhood/your relationship with God
- reminds you of a time you were sad/happy/afraid/feeling peaceful/confused
- gives you a picture of hope
- reminds you of the Bible passage we just read
- makes you think of a favorite Bible story or verse
- speaks to you about the character of God
- illustrates a word/phrase/theme from the story/verse that was read
Tell about why you chose that image. (If your group includes children, I recommend ordering their Kids Pack images.)
Milestones Ministry sells a bowl of stones with symbols painted on them to mark beginnings, endings, thankfulness, remembering, prayer, loss, and more. Use the stones as tangible story starters by taking turns to selecting a stone to hold and then telling a story related to that stone’s meaning.
These wonderful Story Prompts from Faith Formation Ministries team member Sandy Swartzentruber can be used with the stones or on their own.
Bible Story Themed Questions
One set of God’s Big Story cards will provide you with 165 questions to generate faith-nurturing conversations with all ages. Use the questions on their own or in tandem with a particular Bible story. The Bible passage is listed on the front of each card; look for the question marked Share on the back. To see a sample of the cards, click here.
Inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk on The Danger of a Single Story, the card game More Than One Story was created to build bridges between people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Questions include: “Tell a story about a moment when you were nervous,” “Tell about a time you succeeded,” and “Tell about someone you miss.” Available in multiple languages and as a free app.
Speaking of questions, this list of questions to generate conversations about faith is one of the many helpful resources you’ll find in Faith Formation Ministries’ Storytelling Toolkit.
Faith5 provides a simply structured framework for leading devotions:
- Share your highs and lows
- Read a Bible verse or story
- Talk about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs and lows (“Where was God in the story?” and “Where was God in your high/low?”)
- Pray for each other, and
- Bless one another.
(Consider ordering a set of Faith5 bookmarks for folks to use in their homes as well. )
Teach Us to Pray is a family devotional which follows the Christian calendar and which includes brief passages, wondering questions, and prayer ideas that could be used to shape a devotional time in an intergenerational setting. Read a sample here.
How might you use these ideas with your small group? What other resources have you found helpful?
“Originally posted on The Network, a sharing website of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.”
Karen Deboer works as the Creative Resource Developer for Faith Formation Ministries of the CRCNA. Over the years she has worked as part of a team to shape the children’s ministry curricula Kid Connection and Dwell, published by Faith Alive Resources. She is also the author of the Home Grown Handbook for Christian Parenting and a contributing author/editor for the family devotionals You’re Invited and God’s Big Story cards.