Transform Lives through an Intergenerational Mission Trip

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It all started while we were eating Subway sandwiches.

A church member called me and said that he wanted to talk about something that has been on his heart and asked if we could meet halfway between the church and his office which happened to be a Subway.

While I was eating my BLT, he was telling me about his recent water well drilling mission trip to Central America. “I’m developing a real heart for mission work,” he said, “and I’ve been wanting to do more.”

My response was “I’ve been trying to think of new ways to get our teenagers involved with the rest of the church. How can we combine these two things?”

Over the course of the next several weeks we began to write up an idea. We wanted to do something that could unite the entire congregation around a single project or retreat, and we landed on the idea of an intentional intergenerational mission trip. We didnt want the trip to be too far away but we also wanted to make sure it didnt feel like our home town. We also wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a youth and youth-parent trip.

We bracketed the entire church into 4 different age groups:

  • Youth
  • Young Adult
  • Non-Retired Adults (a very broad category!)
  • Retired

We put it out to the congregation that we would only take 15 from each category, and we could not believe how fast the spots filled up. In no time we had 60 people on our list.

When it came time for the actual trip, the retreat center that we stayed at divided us up into about 8 different work sites – each site had various jobs from chopping firewood, to painting a house, to even taking off the siding of a house so that we could install new windows. The benefit of having all of the generations together was that we combined youthful energy with years full of experience.

At night we worshipped together, and in the past the youth group has designed and led the worship services. Picture a room full of people from different ages and backgrounds who chose to leave their houses to come together to worship and literally build the kingdom of God – you might even say that we were a mini church.

Since we’ve come back, the effect on our church as a whole has been palpable. It is not unusual to see older adults stop and talk to the youth. My volunteer base has grown. I even get to hear stories about adults and youth who get together outside of church just to hang out and get frozen yogurt after school.

2017 will be the 4th year in a row that we have gone on this trip which we call “Generation to Generation” or simply “G2G”. Every year has been different (with new people joining us), and I look forwad to what will come of this year’s trip.

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Bill is an ordained Deacon in the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He obtained a MDiv from Candler School of Theology with an emphasis on Biblical Interpretation and Religion in the Academy. He spends most of his time watching Netflix with his wife Lindsey and his daughter Arden. Bill currently serves as the Associate Pastor at Mulberry Street UMC in Macon, GA where the majority of his duties center on youth and intergenerational ministries and seeks to help people move from spiritual baby food to solid food.

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