Making Friends Across the Generations

by Paige Evers

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You probably remember what it feels like to walk into a new church for the first time.  Besides taking in the layout of the building and the look of the sanctuary, you were aware of the other people.  Did anyone say hello to you?  Did people notice that you were new?  Did they introduce themselves and ask for your name?

Now imagine being a child in a church.  For a lot of children, all they see are the grown-ups knees! But there are some adults that they remember and even look for each week.  What makes the difference? 

When an adult takes an interest in a child, the child notices.  After a few hellos, high fives, fist bumps, or conversations, an intergenerational friendship can begin.

Faith Connections at Reformation Lutheran Church is all about making time for those intergenerational friendships to begin and to grow.  I’m thankful that my kids rarely want to sit with me at Faith Connections.  They want to get their donuts and sit with their friends.  A lot of time those friends are their own age or in their age range.  Other times, they are adults who they know, feel comfortable with, and want to catch up with while they’re at church (after all, they see me every day!)

There’s no magic formula for fostering intergenerational friendships.  Young people have gifts, stories, and God moments to share, and so do adults.  If you’d like to get to know some of your younger brothers and sisters in Christ, there are some really easy ways to show young people that you care.

These fifteen ways to show kids that you care are from the book we’re reading and discussing in the Sunday morning Parenting Group this year.  It’s called The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell. 

Take a look at this list and think about what you’re already doing to get to know the young people that God has placed in your life. 

Pick one or two actions that you can try to show kids that you care.  You may be surprised by some new friendships that form when you make a small effort to connect with kids, and when they are encouraged by your actions to connect with you.

Fifteen Ways to Show Kids (Yours and Others’) That You Care
From The Sticky Faith Guide for your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell

1.     Ask them about school.

2.     Find out their extracurricular activity schedule and go to at least one game, recital, or show.

3.     Call them and sing to them on their birthday.

4.     Swing by their house with ice cream after they’ve had a spectacular day.

5.     Swing by their house with ice cream after they’ve had a lousy day.

6.     Keep your promises, no matter how small.

7.     Text them and share your three favorite things about them.

8.     Find out their favorite candy and give it to them for no reason at all.

9.     Give them your undivided attention.

10.  Ask them how you can be praying for them.  And then pray.

11.  A week after you’ve asked them how you can be praying for them, loop back and find out how they’re doing.

12.  Learn their top hobbies or interests and then connect them with someone you know who can teach them more about what’s special to them.

13.  Let them choose the music in the car, and learn why they lean toward that style.

14.  Send them something—anything—in the mail.

15.  Give them your phone number and let them know they can call you at any time, whether they need help or just to talk.

Not too hard, is it?  What are your thoughts about this list?  Anything you’d add?  What’s a way that you show kids in your life that you care?

A great way to get started is to attend Faith Connections on Sunday mornings at 9:45 a.m.  Look for the donuts and you’ll find the children.  A friendship can start with something as simple as a smile and asking a child their name, their age, and any simple thing about them.  A child might be shy or not used to talking to adults, and that’s ok.  A simple smile can communicate that you’re glad they’re there. 

Be more than a pair of knees to the children you see at church.  When we make connections across the generations, we can all grow in our faith and discover the blessings of friendship.

Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas, and thanks for reading!