Book Review

Book Review

Intergenerational Christian Formation by Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton Ross is a must read for those interested in learning both theoretical foundations and practical guidance for intergenerational learning, worship, community and serving.

The book is divided into 4 parts. Part 1 addresses generational realities. This section raises the problem, gives an overview of the history of why churches moved towards separating generations and reasons why it is beneficial to bring the generations together again. This section briefly outlines the thoughts of a number of twentieth century Christian educationists including Ellis Nelson, John H Westerhoff III, Gabriel Moran, James Fowler and others that communicate intergenerational constructs. The authours bring together the thoughts and descriptions and capture it with the phrase “intergenerational Christian formation”.

Part 2 is the heart of the book. It addresses the question of “why might intergenerational faith experiences uniquely nurture Christian formation?” The authours explore biblical foundations for intergenerationality as well as a number of theories with intergenerational principles. They introduce a macrotheory that explains why intergenerationality is so effective.

Part 3 offers thoughts from the social sciences including the data from the authours own research. Although rigorous quantitaive and qualitative research exploring intergenerational principles, practices and benefits in faith communities is somewhat limited this section does provide enough studies that offer strong support for the benefits of intergenerational Christian formation.

Part 4 offers a practical overview of intergenerational Christian formation practices including a chapter on creating a culture of intergenerationality, intergenerational worship, intergenerational learning experiences, intergenerational service and mission, cross-generational relationships in multicultural churches and more.

The book also contains additional material in the appendix including Forty Intergenerational Ideas, Intergenerational Ministry Resources and Biblical Passages that reflect an intergenerational outlook.

This book is rich with good thinking, research, stories and ideas and I highly recommend it as a must read for all pastors and leaders, particularly if you are just beginning to think about what intergenerational christian formation could look like in your faith community!

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