Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community, and Worship, By Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton and Cory L. Seibel

Intergenerational Christian Formation

Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community, and Worship

Second Edition

by Holly Catterton Allen, Christine Lawton, and Cory L. Seibel
Foreword by Jason Brian Santos

Intergenerational Christian Formation
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: June 13, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0142
  • ISBN: 9781514001424

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"One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts." —Psalm 145:4

Most churches and faith communities segment their ministries by age and generation. In some congregations, people may never interact with those of other ages. But it was not always so. Throughout biblical tradition and the majority of history, communities of faith included people of all ages together in corporate worship, education, and ministry. The church was not just multigenerational; it was intergenerational, with the whole church together as one family and people of all ages learning from one another in common life.

The process of becoming Christlike does not happen alone, and intergenerational faith communities are designed for Christian formation. All generations are gifted parts of the body, and churches need all the parts. In this comprehensive text, Holly Allen, Christine Lawton, and Cory Seibel offer a complete framework for intentional intergenerational Christian formation. They provide the theoretical foundations for intergenerationality, showing how learning and spiritual formation are better accomplished through intergenerational contexts. Then the authors give concrete guidance for intergenerational praxis on how worship, learning, community, and service can all be achieved intergenerationally. Case studies of intergenerational congregations provide models for how a culture of intergenerationality can be created in local churches.

This second edition has been revised and updated throughout with new empirical research, intergenerational spiritual practices, and Gen Z realities, with fresh stories of intergenerational formation both in the US and around the world. Discover the riches of intergenerational ministry, and let all generations commend the works of God to one another.

"[Intergenerational Christian Formation] has become what I call the 'bible' of intergenerational ministry. It is the primary text for all college and seminary classes on intergenerational ministry and formation, is part of the bibliography of every book written on the topic since, and continues to guide the global conversation today. . . . In the pages that follow, you will undoubtedly encounter one of the most compelling and needed arguments for the life and health of the church worldwide. The enthusiasm, scholarship, and dedication of these three authors will no doubt spark new ideas, hopes, and dreams for your ministry and for your understanding of what it means to be the church."

Jason Brian Santos, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Lake City, Colorado, from the foreword

"Post-Covid-19, churches grappling with 'new normals' for effective ministry and mission may well find this revised Intergenerational Christian Formation to be a real game-changer. Its comprehensive insights comfortably spanning the ministry practice/academic spectrum provide solid foundations for those who wish to release the cross-generational potential of their church community, and it gives ongoing encouragement and resourcing for those already making headway on that journey."

Allan Harkness, educational consultant and Founding Dean of AGST Alliance (Southeast Asia)

"I love it when a really good book gets even better! This new edition is a wonderful resource to help us consider ways to worship, learn, fellowship, and serve together intergenerationally in the church. Allen, Lawton, and Seibel share strong biblical and theological foundations, more stories and examples to learn from, and gleanings from the latest research in the field to help us learn how to be the church of all ages for all ages. Thank you for this gift!"

Kevin E. Lawson, global affiliate professor of educational studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"This book is a gem! The authors explore the reason intergenerational ministry largely fell by the wayside, why that was a mistake, and how to make changes to bring generations back together. By weaving together personal experiences, studies, and the Word of God, they illustrate the importance and impact of intergenerational ministry for the church. Intergenerational ministry is near and dear to my heart, and I'm thrilled to see these authors put a spotlight on it."

Ben Meyer, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Sunbury, Ohio, and author for

"I've had Intergenerational Christian Formation on my shelf for a decade and have recommended it to many students and pastors who are interested in looking more deeply at intergenerational ministry. This new edition makes me even more excited to recommend it as Holly Allen and Christine Lawton, along with new colleague Cory Seibel, have taken this excellent book and updated it with some new chapters, recent research, and additional stories. Anyone looking to learn about why or how we should think about intergenerational ministry will find a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in these pages. This is a book that belongs on your bookshelf."

Robert Keeley, professor of education, emeritus, at Calvin University

"In our polarized world, Intergenerational Christian Formation guides with the simple yet profound truth that all generations can and should learn from each other. This engaging, meticulously researched book is loaded with stories, practical applications, and ideas. When generations interact, everyone benefits. Barriers tumble down, knowledge is shared, and hope and acceptance permeate the entire community. It's clear to see why this book sparked a global movement of intergenerational ministry. A must-read for anyone in leadership, it'll ignite your excitement for ministry to all and offer concepts to implement. Intergenerational Christian Formation is a valuable reminder that all belong to the family of Christ—and that we belong together."

Cassie Moore, leadership consultant, speaker, and author of Authentic Youth Ministry: Straight Talk about Working with Kids, Teens, and In-Betweens

"The first edition of Intergenerational Christian Formation helped inspire churches across the world to a newness of life by bringing the generations back together. This second edition builds on that strong theological and empirical rationale with up-to-the-minute research, insightful case studies, and ideas for intergenerational practice. It holds together depth and accessibility, making it the essential companion for those already practicing intergenerational Christian formation and those starting out on the journey alike."

Darren Philip, intergenerational practitioner, the Church of Scotland

"A classic is even better! Everyone will benefit from the new research, stories, insights, and practices in Intergenerational Christian Formation. The authors have done a great job of capturing the energy and growth of intergenerational ministry over the past decade. If you are new to intergenerational ministry, begin with this book! If you are a veteran, fine-tune your knowledge and skills."

John Roberto, author of Faith Formation with a New Generation and president of Lifelong Faith Associates

"Already the go-to textbook on the topic, this second edition of Intergenerational Christian Formation enriches the discussion of intergenerationality for pastors, students, academics, and engaged lay leaders. Revised chapters on theology evidence the biblical foundations for intergenerational practice, while a new chapter on spiritual disciplines puts flesh on the theoretical bones. Finally, the chapter on recent empirical research highlights the continuing development of the field, fueling current leadership and sparking the imagination for future projects."

Tim Beilharz, children's ministry advisor and lecturer in intergenerational ministry with Youthworks, Sydney

"Building on the foundation laid by the first edition, this revised edition of Intergenerational Christian Formation brilliantly enhances and expands the original content. Drawing from a wider range of ministry experiences and geographical contexts—testimony to the burgeoning impact of intergenerational ministry across the church globally—it is a valuable addition to the intergenerational 'canon.' Whether you are engaging with intergenerational ministry for the first time, a seasoned practitioner, or anywhere in between, you will find much to stimulate both your thinking and your practice."

Chris Barnett, executive general manager of Intergen in Victoria, Australia

"Intergenerational Christian Formation informs, inspires, provokes, and guides practical action in Christian ministry better than any book I've read in years. The authors' vision is compelling, grounded in thoughtful biblical exegesis, rigorous social science research, engaging ministry experiences, and the practical realities of contemporary church life. Not only will you be convinced that intergenerational Christian formation is important, you will also be empowered to see a practical path forward to reimagine congregational ministry in a way that actually echoes the ways Christians have lived, learned, worshiped, prayed, and served others for centuries."

Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, senior scholar at the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota

"Building on the seminal work of the first edition, this text is indispensable for both academics and practitioners. The second edition includes updated data, a strong expanded theological discussion, and is both theoretical and practical. Real-life examples, including how to engage in spiritual disciplines intergenerationally, and powerful stories all help readers visualize how they can integrate intergenerational Christian formation into the life of the church. This revision of Intergenerational Christian Formation is just as necessary and significant for the church today as it was a decade ago. It will remain a highly recommended book to those I minister alongside and teach."

Jody Linkletter, lecturer in next generation ministry at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University

"Holly Allen, Christine Lawton, and Cory Seibel’s foundational book, Intergenerational Christian Formation, embraces the theoretical and theological (the why) as well as the purposeful and practical (the how). This book is infused with the understanding of all generations being integral and important to the body of Christ. It also provides loads of doable ideas that help congregations create more intentional Christ-centered intergenerational community, no matter the size of their church."

Liz Perraud, executive director of GenOn Ministries

"Churches are busy looking for the next best thing in ministry without realizing it is with them already! Living and worshiping intergenerationally is life giving. We already have the people we need, but we don't often recognize it. I welcome the revision of this foundational text with its emphasis on bringing theology and praxis together, helping congregations start (or continue) on the journey of bringing all God's people together. This is not the next best thing—this is the best thing."

Mary Hawes, former National Children and Youth Adviser for the Church of England

"This new version of Intergenerational Christian Formation amplifies the insights provided in the first. In particular, new research is provided that affirms many of the original premises. The original book elevated the importance of intergenerational ministry, and in the intervening years, the value of intergenerational ministry as a vital part of the overall ministry in Christian churches has become an even more valid premise. This book will serve as an excellent resource for students, church professionals, and laity who seek to enhance the ministry of the local church."

Mark Blanke, Concordia University, Nebraska

"Intergenerational Christian Formation is the gold standard textbook in the field of all-age ministry, and this new edition has elevated it to platinum. It continues to have a pivotal role in my ministry, research, and teaching. The breadth and depth it offers is second to none."

David M. Csinos, associate professor of practical theology at Atlantic School of Theology and author of A Gospel for All Ages

Read an Excerpt


Prologue: Venturing into Intergenerationality: Our Stories
Introduction: A New Edition

PART 1. Generational Realities
1. A Changing Paradigm
2. What Is Happening and How Did We Get Here?
3. Why Bring the Generations Back Together? The Benefits of Intergenerationality
PART 2. Biblical and Theological Foundations
4. Critical Moments, Feasts, and House Churches: Biblical Foundations
5. The Intergenerational Dance: Forging an Intergenerational Ecclesiology
PART 3. Sociological, Theoretical, and Empirical Support
6. Becoming Christian in Community: Sociological Foundations
7. Gen Z, Millennials, Xers, Boomers, and Silents: Generational Theory
8. Growing Each Other Up: Theoretical Foundations
9. By the Numbers: Empirical Research
PART 4. Intergenerational Christian Formation Practices
10. Intergenerational Worship
11. Practicing Spiritual Disciplines Intergenerationally
12. Intergenerational Small Groups
13. Learning Experiences in Intergenerational Settings
14. Intergenerational Story Sharing
15. Intergenerational Service and Missions
16. Intergenerational and Intercultural Connections
17. Leadership: Fostering an Intergenerational Culture
18. Intergenerational Ministry: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Appendix A: Interview Protocol for Ministry Leaders in Intergenerational Research Congregations
Appendix B: Biblical Passages That Reflect a Generational Outlook
Appendix C: Intergenerational Resources
Appendix D: Fifty-Five Intergenerational Ideas


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