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Intergenerational Ministry During COVID-19

By | Posted In Personal Stories

Pastor Jon Warneke had plans for Parkhill Church to use Bible Engagement Project in person. Two weeks into the curriculum, COVID-19 hit his community of Billings, Montana. The onset of the pandemic sparked online gatherings for Parkhill Church. This posed potential challenges for upholding one of their church values: intergenerational ministry. In this interview, Pastor Jon shares what intergenerational ministry looks like before and during COVID-19, along with plans for future in person gatherings.

“Our pastoral staff loved the fact that the Bible Engagement Project app has curriculum for all ages so that everyone can walk through the same Bible passages at the same time,” says Pastor Jon. “So we restructured Wednesday nights to bring everyone together before COVID hit. The idea was that we would have everyone in the same room—grandparents, grandchildren, teens, parents—and present the night’s session in a fun and engaging way. We’d center the night on the Faith Verse (the Bible verse for memorization) because that’s life changing. That’s where transformation happens.”

Listen curriculum highlights one Bible verse, called a Faith Verse, for each four-week session. “While the kids will be learning the verse and hearing the Bible lesson, the parents and grandparents will have life experiences that relate to the verses. The adults can share their stories with the younger generations. Everyone can grow together,” says Pastor Jon. “Listen curriculum is the tool that will promote intergenerational relationships and really pivot our Wednesday night small groups.”

While the intergenerational sharing in person is on hold, Parkhill’s Youth Team has already introduced Listen curriculum to their youth and they enjoy it. “Some of our kids from age twelve all the way up to seniors in high school have said, ‘This is actually pretty cool and pretty fun!’ ” 

One of the defining features of Listen curriculum is that it walks all ages from Genesis through Revelation in one year. “Something my staff and I love about Bible Engagement Project’s Listen curriculum is that it presents the story line of God’s Word. Some people have said, ‘I don’t know how the Old Testament fits with the New, but this curriculum is helping me make connections between them.’ This is probably one of the biggest benefits of the curriculum for our church right now.”

Listen curriculum also features Family Devotions, a section of the app where families can find the Faith Fact, Faith Verse, and engaging questions centered on each session. Since families are spending more time at home during the pandemic, the Parkhill pastoral team is planning a “Dinner Challenge” based on Listen curriculum’s Family Devotions. They are challenging families with young children to spend as many dinners per week as there are Family Devotions so that they will engage God’s Word together at home. “This is one of our church goals,” shares Pastor Jon. “We want to show families what is on the app and teach them how to use it better.”

Overall, Pastor Jon and Parkhill Church are adapting to world conditions with grace and dreaming for the future of their church gatherings. “COVID-19 is a season of change, and in a season like this, we need a tangible example of the constancy of God. Bible Engagement Project is that tangible example. It brings us God’s Word—something that doesn’t change no matter what’s happening around us.”