I’ve been seeing a lot of both these words lately, and that’s a good thing. It means that more and more people in our congregations (and in our association) are thinking about the benefits of having multiple generations interacting in various ways. Of course, the most obvious way the word intergenerational has been used in our congregations is in reference to worship, as in “Today is an Intergenerational Sunday. Children will be with the adults for the entire worship service.” And that’s one of the main reasons I prefer to use the word multigenerational now. It has less baggage and it actually is more precise. See, intergenerational technically refers to two or more generations. So by that definition, every worship service is intergenerational (unless you had an all Boomer or all Gen X service). But multigenerational implies (at least to me) more that two generations. And when three or more generations are gathered for worship, some serious give-and-take needs to occur. Even among our “elders” there are significant differences between the G.I. Generation, the Silent Generation, and the Boomers, just as there are major differences between Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. And if we really take seriously the task of bringing generations together in order to create a single Beloved Community, the stakes are even higher. For my money, multigenerational is the better word for describing who (but not what) is involved in addressing that task.

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