Inter-generational or intergenerational ministry is a model of Christian ministry which emphasizes relationships between age groups and encourages mixed-age activities.

Contrast with traditional models

Inter-generational ministry stands in contrast with other modes of ministry more traditionally seen in local churches, such as Sunday schools and youth ministries.

In Sunday school, children, youths, and sometimes adults, are instructed by teachers who are, typically, adults. Classes are usually divided by age groups, as in secular schools. In youth ministries, teens or young adults (especially college age) gather in groups presided over by a "youth minister". These groups, which are often part of parachurch organizations, focus on peer fellowship and instruction of their members.

These modes of ministry segregate members by age, and presuppose a hierarchical ministry in which more experienced, more educated, and generally older members minister didactically to their charges. Inter-generational activities, by contrast, emphasize a mixture of ages, and de-emphasize formal teacher-pupil relationships.

Types of activities


Inter-generational ministry is one of a number of movements which have arisen in response over concerns that young adults very commonly cease participation in church, and often do not return. Proponents of the inter-generational ministry movement hold that the hierarchical and didactic roles found in traditional church ministries deprive teens and young adults of a sense of purpose and involvement, since their role in these ministries is passive and subordinate, and since they are often kept separate from adult activities. Therefore, they propose that younger members should take active roles in the ministry of the local church, and that church activities should involve and encourage participation from members across a wide range of ages.

A second thread in the inter-generational ministry movement is that of family involvement. Concerns over divorce, abuse and other family disruptions led to criticism of how traditional church activities typically segregate family members according to age, thus de-emphasizing family relationships. Inter-generational activities were seen as a means to involve families as units, thus reinforcing family bonds.

Studies show that children attending Sunday Schools and youth programs are less likely to continue church involvement, compared to those who attended worship with parents, and are integrated into a community (eg, Mark de Vries Family-Based Youth Ministry, 2004). Those children who continue church involvement as adults often have a ‘nominal faith’ (e.g. George Barna Transforming children into Spiritual Champions, 2003).

Proponents of this mode of ministry claim it is a Biblical model - particularly when the ministry is located within the family in accordance with the 'relational' Hebrew model described in Deuteronomy 6.


Many denominations have instituted offices or programs which focus on inter-generational ministry.


  • Bak, Mindy. (1999). Together in Faith, Youth and Family Institute. ISBN: 9781889407302
  • de Vr, Mark (2004). Family-Based Youth Ministry. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP. ISBN 0-8308-1396-9. 
  • Barna, George. (2003). Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, Regal. ISBN 0-8307-3294-2
  • Seymour, Jack and Miller, Donald (eds). (1982). Contemporary Approaches to Christian Education, Abingdon Press. ISBN 0687094933

External links

  • [1] 'Together In Faith' is an easy-to-use supplemental curriculum that helps churches begin inter-generational ministry around faith-basics - including classes on Praying Together and more for Preschoolers through 5th Graders and their parents or significant adults (like grandparents and god-parents)
  • ChurchBaby is particularly dedicated to information concerning the church as inter-generational community, including the e-zine ChurchBaby. News.
  • Calvin Institute provides suggestions for 'multi-generational' worship form
  • Seasons of the Spirit aims to equip congregations for inter-generational life with a lectionary-based resource for multi-age congregations available for purchase.
  • Discussion Forums and Blogs abound on the topic with Blogspot collating some discussions of the paradigm shift.
  • Children at Worship presents resources for the inclusion of children and youth as full participants in the regular worship life of a congregation.
  • Faith Inkubators aims to spearhead a Christian education reform that restores parents as the primary faith teachers.
  • Institute for Uniting Church and Home has a vision for accomplishing the Great Commission through their households.
  • Family-Based Youth Ministry FBYM began when Mark DeVries began to devise a system targeted at bringing families together within the church body.
  • entry
  • Prevention of Child Abuse Discussion of child abuse.

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