One of the goals at Unity of Roanoke Valley, Va., is to develop and nurture a thriving multi-generational spiritual community in which folks of all ages feel welcome and connected. In a culture that often segregates different age groups, we can forget that each generation within our community has something important to contribute. Our young children provide delightful innocence and energy; our teens a keen sense of humor, enthusiasm and excitement. Our young adults bring new life and a sense of openness to new ideas, while our older adults provide stability and the wisdom of experience.
One step we are taking in the direction of our goal is offering a multi-generational Sunday service on the four “5th Sundays” each year. Over the course of the last two years, we have developed a few Sunday services that have successfully engaged all of our congregants.
Base the Message Around a Children’s or Bible Story
An idea that has worked well for us is to build the service around a children’s story. The story is read to the children during the “talk,” and children and their parents are invited to sit around the reader while the story is read. Questions about the story can be asked that lead from the story to the lesson. If the children or teens are stumped by any of the questions, the reader can ask for help from the adults in the congregation. For communities with projectors, the pictures can be scanned and projected as the story is read. Stories you might consider using are It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr and You Are Special by Max Lucado.
We have also performed a modern day version of “The Good Samaritan” set to music, with our young actors pantomiming the story as a jogger is accosted in the park. A business person and minister pass her by. A biker finally steps in to give aid and take her to an urgent care clinic, leaving her with his leather jacket and $20 for the co-pay.
When planning the service, we try to find ways to make it engaging for all. We endeavor to involve our young congregants whenever possible. For one service, we put an altar in the middle with seats in the round and passed out electric rainbow tea lights to folks as they entered to place upon the altar. Meditation time may include a simple chant or standing, stretching and breathing. It might involve a short imaginative journey. We ask young adults and teens to perform some of the music, or we may teach the children and teens a song to share. We may have our YOUers and Uniteens lead one of their joy songs learned at regional rallies or Uniteen retreats.
Below are links to information about some of the Sunday services we have created:
- 12 Powers Multi-Generational Service
- Modern Good Samaritan Multi-Gen Service
- Jesus Calms the Seas Multi-Gen Service
Editor’s Note: Unity Worldwide Ministries’ Eastern Region created a section on their website to share best practices. They have kindly given us permission to reprint articles. Reposted from http://best-practices-unity.org/multi-generational-services-at-unity-of-roanoke-valley/. Accessed on March 11, 2015, 1:49 p.m. CT.