Youth group leaders at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ont., took their faith formation sessions into the living rooms of older members to hear the faith stories of earlier generations.
“We have a vision for intergenerational ministry at Jubilee,” said the church’s youth ministry coordinator, Anna Bailey. “While I was thinking about [that] and planning an authentic faith formation component for our youth program, the idea of our teens receiving hospitality, wisdom, and life experience from older, faithful Christ followers came about.”
Jubilee CRC’s members responded enthusiastically to Bailey’s request to share their stories; 17 volunteered to share with a group of teens known as the “Jubes.”
Sylvia DeVries, who hosted the Jubes with her husband, Bill, said they were drawn to participate because they were thankful to be known to the youth of their church. She expects that after these meetings “the kids [have] more of a sense of the faith of some of the older couples in the church and who they [are].”
“When I heard [the older members’] stories, it really touched me, because most of their stories were probably hard to tell,” said Kadie, 15.
For Alan Vandermaas, the presence of the teens actually helped him to remember. “Several of my stories came from their questions,” he said. “They woke up my memory.”
Ben, 15, said, “The talks were inspiring because [these] were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. They showed that anything is possible and can be done with the helping hand of God.”
The teens closed their year of youth group with a Sunday worship service in which grade 12 students celebrated their own stories by laying stone markers. They thanked the older members for passing on their faith with a video showing the origin of the story-sharing project.
“Most of [the seniors] weren’t [always] that strong in their faith. But then they started to learn more about God, and they got deeper with God. After I heard that, it helped me to go into a deeper relationship with God,” said Kadie. “They opened my eyes.”