I just returned from a student mission trip. One stop on the way was to stay a night at the church where I grew up. As I was pondering about the rich past of the church, and I began to ponder on how we pass our faith from one generation to the next.
One way our student ministry engaged multiple generations was to use a mission’s experience. I don’t mean we put them on a bus together, although that may not be the worst idea, but if you are like me, perhaps easing into some relationships is best. Here’s four ways I used our missions experience to begin the process.
Have Senior Adults and Student Adopt Each Other.
Seniors have a heart for missions and whether they admit it or not, a heart for students. The best opportunity I had to build relationship between students and seniors was adoption. For two weeks a senior adult “adopted” a student through the mission experience and committed to pray and keep in touch with them. The student ministry created pictures and bios and had an adoption drive at a senior adult event similar to a Worldvision sponsorship drive. Seniors were able to choose a student’s picture, post it on their fridge or have it on their kitchen table in front of them every day. I also attached a copy of the devotional that we went through. The senior could follow along daily and could relate to their adopted student’s every move. Prior to leaving, each student received information about their adopted senior so they knew who had adopted them.
Have Senior Adults and Students Pray for Each Other.
Senior adults are typically the prayer engines of the church and usually pray for missions. Combine prayer and missions and you have a win-win situation. One of the commitments in the adoption package was to pray daily for their adopted student. The student bio included several concerns about the trip to pray. I also scheduled intentional times during our mission trip to pray specifically for their adopted senior adult.
Have Senior Adults and Students Encourage Each Other.
The seniors not only prayed, but also wrote emails and Facebook posts to the students encouraging them the whole trip. The communication kept the senior adults engaged in the mission activities and built relationships with the students. The student ministry created a specific email address for seniors and students to correspond with each other..
Have Senior Adults and Student Intentionally Interact With each Other
The most influential times on this past mission trip were the times of telling the history of the churches and the times spending time with the older members sharing their stories with the students. We intentionally scheduled time for the senior adults to prepare a meal and spend time telling stories with the students. Students need and desire foundations. The testimonies build great appreciation for the history and experiences for the people they are serving with and break down the barriers that may exist between the generations. This served well for when we returned to build generational bridges with those at our sending church.
Minister of Education and Students
Riley’s Creek Baptist Church.