When the Israelite families would travel to other places, often times it would be with their extended families. Children would have the chance to mingle with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all ages together. These times offered informal opportunities for the children to learn from other adults besides their parents. Today with our mobile society, children often live far from their extended families. Our faith communities can provide families with children this valuable experience through intergenerational gatherings. Typically at church we gravitate to our regular groups but with a little intentionality, faith communities can facilitate relationships across the generations.
Spring and summer months offer a variety of opportunities for informal gatherings with all age groups.
Consider planning once-a-month church-wide activities beginning in May or June and ending in August with an end of summer celebration.
Take me out to the ballgame – Plan a trip to a professional baseball game or one of the minor league teams. If you have students who play on summer teams encourage classes to go out and support the teams. Take the church bus/van or carpool to provide opportunity for conversation.
Day trip to a state park, lake or beach – Bring your own picnic or plan a potluck picnic with different groups bringing different parts.
Outdoor movie night in your back yard – Plan this before it gets too hot
Holidays – Memorial Day or July 4th, many communities plan special events. Encourage members to bring friends and meet at the park or celebration area to enjoy the community event. Depending on the setting, you could consider making it a community service project by providing a water station or activity booth.
Ice Cream Gatherings – Plan times in between the bigger summer activities to meet at the local ice cream or yogurt shop. Have a regular gathering on a specific weekday every other week during the summer. Weekdays work better than weekends since many people travel on weekends. These kind of gatherings offer a break in the middle of the week and a chance to catch up with friends and meet new members.
These are just a few ideas. What do your members and community usually do during summer? What activities and celebrations happen in your community in which you can participate?
When planning for summer activities, involve leaders from all age groups to offer input and help plan. If you haven’t had summer activities then plan just one a month or one in June and one in August.
This year plan to take advantage of informal summer gatherings to help make connections with members and your community.
These thoughts above are from Mary Langley, one of our partners in the ministry. Her primary focus is working alongside churches in children and family matters. She is based out of Raleigh, North Carolina.