COHESION: the act or condition of cohering; the tendency to stick together.
Since returning from the Intergenerate Ministry Conference last month, there is a “buzz” around St. John’s. That “I” word keeps surfacing in conversations, sermons, announcements, the eNews. There is excitement paired with nervousness, right? And that nervous energy is a positive attribute! Imagine a congregation generationally siloed; where sparsely filled pews exhibit multiple seating options; where a church calendar lists single Sunday services with open blank dates the other 6 days of the week.
Our Nashville conference team heard multiple individuals from across the United States express the sense of urgency to find ways to get people to return to church. Many shared this trend was already prevalent in their congregations prior to the pandemic, which only intensified a more rapid decline in numbers. And there we were on the flip side, sharing that finding a parking space on Sunday morning can be challenging; that worship seating is nearly at capacity; and we need to create another worship service asap! This is THE SPIRIT at work and it’s happening right here, right now at St. John’s!
Is there anxiety envisioning the future? Yes. But what a blessed position God has given this congregation and Wake Forest community!
In the weeks leading up to the Nashville conference, there was much reading and internet study happening regarding all things “Intergenerational.” With the vast amount of information to digest, one of the last books I read put things very succinctly.
Developed by sociologist Vern Bengston and known as the Intergenerational Solidarity Theory, this hypothesis uses an acronym (COHERE) and summarizes how we might approach worship and ministry programming in a way that is respectful of tradition and enlightening to those who are seeking. Read on:
C = Connecting
O = Organizing
H = Harmonizing
E = Empathizing
R = Recognizing
E = Exchanging
Envisioning what the future might hold for St. John’s, consider:
Connecting—crossing relational lines and eliminating age specific categories or silos.
Organizing—creating worship and ministry opportunities for all.
Harmonizing—solidarity as a congregation within the concept of change.
Empathizing—understand and feel the emotions of others amidst change.
Recognizing—acknowledging needs and responsibilities which guide relationships.
Exchanging—honoring the diverse gifts which each of us, as God’s creation, possess, and using all these gifts in ministry.
I cannot wait to see where God is leading St. John’s. Can you?
Soli Deo Gloria.