Midweek Message: "Christian Education and Faith Formation for All Ages – Together"

Week of the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ:

As we have now embarked on a new year for Christian education and faith formation programs, I want to call your attention to an emerging new reality among us in our congregation. And that is that you can expect to see more programming that is intended to include persons of all ages together. This promises a more intergenerational approach to Christian education and faith formation.

Why this new, emerging approach? First off, Christian assembly is for all persons together. The Holy Spirit does not call us to affinity groups of the like-minded, or to interest groups inclusive only of those in similar circumstances or age groups. No, the Holy Spirit gathers all of us together at the same time and in the same place. This is what we attempt to embody in our single liturgy of Holy Communion on Sunday mornings. I believe that other programs, initiatives, and events of our congregation should emerge from, grow out of, and parallel our usual Sunday assemblies.

Thus, you will be invited to programs that formerly might have only been targeted to children or youth, but which now intend to draw persons of all ages – and not just the parents of the children and youth involved! You can, for example, expect to see more confirmation-related events that include whole families, and not just our confirmands. Moreover, you will be given resources intended for use at home – with your whole families, however they are configured. Martin and Katie Luther saw home life as domestic church, as Christian assembly in microcosm in ways that emerge from and parallel and reinforce life together in the whole church.

In addition to such approaches being faithful to and in keeping with our whole liturgical assembly on Sunday morning, there are other reasons for more intergenerational initiatives in our life together. Another is that nurturing a deeper sense of Christian community in our congregational life is identified as the first priority of our set of newly approved by Council vision statements to guide our mission and ministry together. Intergenerational approaches to Christian education and faith formation can serve to build community both here at church and in your homes.

Moreover, we live during a time when people are ever more increasingly subdivided into ever smaller groups until we risk being atomized and reduced to our radical individuality. We labor in silos in our places of work. Professional endeavors become ever more specialized such that experts may fail to see the forest for the trees. We risk becoming in our wider society collections of isolated individuals who are alone even if we are together, quite often with our faces glued to the blue-lit screens of our devices. Bringing people of all ages and all circumstances together can literally have healing effects for us physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually.

Another reason for an intergenerational approach to Christian education and formation is that it is just plain fun and life-giving. On those occasions when I have participated as an adult in activities typically designed for kids, I have found it liberating to, for example, get down on the floor with others to imagine, to play, to color, or whatever the activity happens to be. Play is not just for kids. And for children and youth, it can be compelling for them to see in adults the capacity for playfulness.

So, you see, there are many compelling reasons for us to offer programming intended to draw together persons of all ages and varied circumstances in our life together as a congregation.

Look in the announcements in coming weeks for news of such new opportunities.

Seeking deeper community in Christ,

Pastor Jonathan Linman