With the current emphasis on family and multi-generational ministry, you may have decided it’s time for you to move forward and hold a couple of family-focused or intergenerational events at your church. Here are a few tips to help you pull off that exciting event and keep it meaningful and participatory for all involved!
- Pick an Appropriate Theme or Topic– Whatever topic you decide to go with, make sure that young and old alike can relate to the theme. For instance, holding an even with the theme “There’s an App for that!” will immediately dispose a certain group of people to attend and another group won’t even give it a second glance. Ask me how I know.
- Choose the Right Environment – Since most of the time you want these events to be interactive, make sure that there is space to interact such as round tables (high chairs and toddler seats for the little ones), open spaces with rugs to assemble on, chairs in circles, etc. You want the environment to facilitate interaction not inhibit it so rows of pews, long tables set up in a classroom, or a room with lots of distractions (toys, TVs, cabinets, etc.) can distract.
- Have something Prepared for Preschoolers and Toddlers! – Getting all age levels together for intentional faith formation and interaction can present a challenge when little ones are tired or need attention. Make it easy on Mom and Dad by having coloring sheets or quiet activities that relate to the topic available to them. Every part of my lesson plan for our Family Faith Formation nights has a section for YOUNGER KIDS and a plan for what they can do during that time if needed.
- Keep it Moving – It is easy to get bogged down with a big group. Distractions happen, some people move slower than others, and often activities can go way past their planned time. You will make everyone happy if you keep the event moving alongand if you communicate throughout the event how much time is left for each activity. Just a simple, “Five more minutes and we are moving on,” will help everyone stay on-task and engaged. When kids get bored, they get loud and active. Keeping everyone engaged will put a damper on that happening.
- Embrace the Chaos – I don’t care if it’s a family reunion or a state fair, when you put a variety of ages and personalities into a space together, things are going to get loud and crazy. You will find yourself most at ease when you embrace that reality and encourage families to “have fun” while they learn together. Find a way to get everyone’s attention without yelling- like flickering the lights, blowing a horn, or playing a countdown song so that you don’t add to the chaos when trying to communicate with everyone.
- Leave room for Celebration – More than likely, there are only a few times where your church families and generations get together and interact with each other. Make sure that during that time, some celebration happens. Celebrations lead to positive feelings and positive feelings lead to continued and increased engagement. During our Family Faith Formation nights we celebrate at the beginning by seeing who completed their goals from the last week and we celebrate at the end by having families affirm each other in their family group.
These are only a few of the things I have found really help in planning our family and intergenerational events. What techniques have worked for you?