On Spiritual Generativity

What does “Spiritual Generativity” mean?  In the simplest terms, it’s the passing on of our faith tradition from one generation to the next.  If youth are always separated from the rest of the life of the church – how will they learn what it means to be the church as adults?  How do we in youth ministry make the connections between the generations?
While visiting Stonebridge United Methodist Church in the Dallas area, I was able to witness spiritual generatively in action.  Here is what the pastor had to say after my visit:
A few Sundays ago, Mary Brooke got up early to take off to DFW Airport to pick up a friend of hers. Amy Valdez Barker is a PhD. student at Garret-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.  She has been contracted by the Connectional Table of the United Methodist Church to serve as a consultant on their Vital Congregations Initiative, that seeks to provide resources to help local congregations set meaningful and achievable ministry goals (www.umvitalcongregations.org).  Amy came to town for a regional meeting on Monday but came early to spend her Sunday visiting a vital congregation.
So Amy spent all day with us on Sunday.  She attended both the Celebration Hall Service at 9:30 and the Bridge service at 10:45.  We took her for lunch at Spoons afterward where we got her to talk about her work and interest.  Amy’s graduate work is in the area of spiritual generativity.  That is a fancy phrase describing the responsibility of the current adult generation to give personal attention to the spiritual well being of the upcoming generation. Making Christian disciples is a total church responsibility that integrates all age levels and engages in inter-generational and interactive mission. Congregations need to provide a multitude of opportunities for inter-generational activities where the Christian life is modeled and lived out in front of and with our children and youth.
Amy’s calling is to help churches realize this responsibility and intentionally focus their mission and purpose to this end; the shaping the next generation of adult Christians.
After lunch we took her on an afternoon tour of the Holiday Homes of McKinney and then we found our way back to the church at 5 p.m. for the Aloha Christmas feast and show.  I noticed that Amy was quite engaged in the program with all ages performing on the stage.  She was one of the first in the audience to jump to her feet for the standing ovation.  When the program was over she and Mary Brooke had to bolt out the door for her to get back to her hotel room.  But as she was leaving her last words to me were:  “That’s it, that’s what I’m talking about, that’s spiritual generativity.”
I was reminded of that Saturday when a bunch of folks gathered in the Upper Alley to make sandwiches for the homeless and hungry in our area.  It was a wonderful inter-generational time. It took many hands of many sizes, to make and sack almost 900 sandwiches.  A homeless person will soon be blessed with a simple meal, but all the hands that prepared it received a double blessing, serving and sharing our faith together. It’s called spiritual generativity.
In His Service and Yours,
Vic Casad
Senior Pastor
How successful is your church at passing on the faith from one generation to the next?  How do the members of your youth ministry interact with the rest of the church?  We would love to hear your success stories and ideas.

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