Visions are not common. They are weird, distracting and frustrating to discern and define. They come and go. Visions are a breath of motivation and the fearful silence of the future.

Today, the intergenerational vision is not only a blueprint for tomorrow, but the screaming voice of realities, people and circumstances that call us to reflect on our work as Christians, the Church and people called to mission.

I remember having a vision of my future. I saw myself as a successful lawyer, battling for the progress of capitalism and defending the need for huge buildings and the advancement of corporate life. 

But when I started working in church as a 15-year-old volunteer, my vision changed. 

The first change was with time. Instead of planning for the “hopeful” future, the present became loud in its need for hope. Friends cried for help, and communities were instructional and direct about their problems. My father’s cry for memory was very loud. 

And there was a deep longing for meaning and identity in the colonial setting that is my home, Puerto Rico.

“A vision of a man from Macedonia came to Paul during the night. He stood urging Paul, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’ Immediately after he saw the vision, we prepared to leave for the province of Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.” (Acts 16:9-10 CEB)

Paul was moved from his vision of killing Christians to preaching the gospel. Paul was moved from the certainty of helping his cause and being transformed into a new mystical cause of hope. 

But it all started with a vision.

What’s your vision? 

Today, the Spirit’s breath challenges us to look forward to the present and acknowledge that we are crossing towards a new Macedonia. What does the new Macedonia look like for you?

I am writing from the Space for Grace Conference (2024) of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies. The challenge has been named–Intergenerational Faith. 

“Intergenerational” is understanding each other. It is the process of engaging in a relationship with Jesus so powerful that all people can connect. 

In the words of Dr. Sarah Drummond, Dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, intergenerational faith “is making faith formation less like school and more like home.” This means that the cry for help for our 21st-century Macedonias is a cry for the need for a home. 

Is church home or school?

It is important not to confuse school with education. Education is the liberating and transformative process of development in human reality, capability, skill, emotional, psychological, and intellectual reality. 

Making faith formation feel like home means engaging young adults as mentors for high schooler students, addressing the empty nest factor of older adults with creative spaces for children. 

Macedonia these days doesn’t look like a futuristic vision of flying cars, but rather like people from all generations longing for interaction, substance and meaning.

What are we to do with the need for engagement? The biblical text is clear. Immediately after the vision, they prepared themselves. Intergenerational engagement is an immediate need for the Church and society to nurture its present and progress into its future.

What motivates our preparation as the Church? 

The motivations for intergenerational engagement must include respect, justice, empathy, and love. The first letter to the Corinthians (13:13) expresses that faith, hope, and love remain, with love being the greatest. For this reason, love must be the everlasting motivation to engage in the intergenerational process because of loving mutuality. 

The new vision from Macedonia sees that the cry for help is a need for loving actions, transforming the need for being right to a mission of collaboration. Collaboration strives to work as a collective for something, and in these times, that something is love. 

Intergenerational good news looks like loving the elderly as young people for their wisdom, older adults opening to new things brought up by youth, inclusion in liturgy, acceptance of questions of life and faith processes. 

Intergenerational love is the general expression being present in phase, transition and growth.

How do we prepare the Church to be an intergenerational engagement space? 

First, we must see “intergenerational” as a value more than an adjective. When we cross to Macedonia with a value in mind and heart, then we can do it intentionally. Lacking intentional gospel work drains the energy of the second preparation: listening. 

In his book The Innovative Church, Dr. Scott Cormode, professor of leadership development at Fuller Theological Seminary, affirms that “leadership starts with listening.” When the values are determined and understood, it is a divine time to listen to people. 

That is a practical, ministerial, and pastoral way of preparing for intergenerational engagement. If the Church does not prepare to be quiet and listen, the crowded passing to Macedonia will be nulled by noise and not by intentionality and openness towards God’s kingdom. 

A third form of preparation is to create intergenerational spaces as continuous projects. One of the basic phases of project management is the monitoring phase. In this phase, consistent evaluation is key. The evaluation process of intergenerational engagement can help us be aware of opportunities, make us open to learning and relearning. It can also show us where resources are needed and when we may need to pause and restart.

When is the Church to promote intergenerational engagement? 

The text is clear that we must begin immediately. New visions of mission spaces for engagement can no longer wait. If we think our hesitation is “getting organized,” we are confusing mission with utility. When we something only by its use, we become critical of its faults rather than the solutions that can restore it to something new. 

The vision of the Macedonian man came to Paul not to promote the usefulness of the good news but the urgency of the gospel’s mission. When? Now.

Visions are weird, but they are necessary. Without vision, salvation would not be a reality. Visions invite new engagements of peace, love and hope. Today, God is calling us towards intergenerational visions of proclaiming in practice, value, intention and urgency. 

The Spirit’s invitation is to open our senses, feel reality, aspire for truth and act upon new visions.

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