While NBC News has a story about a school doing this, almost every healthy intergenerational church I have studied offers a version of this kind of cradle to college working class family support.
They act on the needs of the whole family unit: food, education, networks of support, work, reading, language and safety. Healthy intergenerational churches leverage their assets (kitchens, large spaces, classrooms, playgrounds, internet access, skilled mentors, wise mature adults, access to financial resources) with the assets of a community of need (local knowledge, relationships, language skills, time, energy, youthful passion, optimism, hope, willingness to work) and build something beautiful. The details vary from place to place, but the fundamental posture of openness to the people who live all around the church remains a constant across all the churches.
Just like Jesus said, when two or three people gather together to pray and dream a divine dream, Jesus shows up and shines a light on all the human resources he has provided to make the dream come true. It is early July as I write this. Have you got two or three people in mind who might pray and dream to get something started in your neck of the woods?
For those of you still reading: Here is a little secret for your church. Lots of churches have community meals. Far fewer build intergenerational ministry out of those meals. There is a path from eating together to building a community together. It isn’t that hard a path, but you do have to draw a map and mark the way points along the way. Think eating to talking to serving to leading to loving to inviting.
That’s why I got into this work – to help churches mark the path and find their way.
The best example I know of this kind of church is Opportunity House in Kannapolis, NC: