May 07, 2020

Community Is . . . Intergenerational

Joshua 4:1-9

“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them. . . .”

—  Joshua 4:6

I have two vivid memories of community from my time in high school: teaching a Sunday school class, and having breakfast once a month with a local pastor. I’m not sure how I was trusted to teach Sunday school, and I’m sure I didn’t always do it right, but I remember being able to share lessons with children and laughing with them a lot. I think they taught me more than I taught them. I’m also not sure how I got connected with that pastor and mentor, but I remember it as a formative time for me during some difficult years.

At its foundation, the community of God’s people is intergenerational. Young people learn from older generations, and older generations learn from children and youth! We are good at talking about today’s youth being the “church of tomorrow,” but the truth is that they are every bit the church of today as well.

God wanted Israel to be able to learn from previous generations, so he told them to pile up twelve stones after crossing the Jordan River. Whenever a younger person asked what those stones meant, someone could tell them who God is and what he had done for them. What a perfect picture of intergenerational learning!

Jesus also taught God’s people that they needed to be like little children, trusting in God and realizing their dependence on him (Luke 18:16-17). We can learn from children just as they can learn from adults.

Father, equip us to teach children and also to learn from them, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

About the author — Bret Lamsma

Bret Lamsma is Director of Faith Formation at First Church in Denver, Colorado, and has served churches in Michigan and California in youth, emerging adult, inter-generational, and educational ministries. Bret and his wife, Julie, have two children, and he enjoys hiking, disc golfing, and cheering for the Chicago Cubs.

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