This past week I had the privilege of speaking at our men’s retreat. Sharing our camp was another church that was having a father-son retreat. I came away with several thoughts.
1. A men’s retreat can include young men. The children in our church are relatively young. But we did have one teen come along with us. He circulated among the men, sitting at different tables when eating. He was appropriately engaged and listened. And he sat in on men talking about, among other things, their struggle with pornography.
This fits well into my understanding of the teen years. In our house we saw the 12/13 age as a transition from childhood to young adulthood. We called it adult-in-training.
I think it is very appropriate for churches to invite young men on a men’s retreat provided they act like young men. In other words, they come along knowing they will be attending an adult men’s retreat. They will not group together with other teens.
They are welcome to come on a men’s retreat or men’s breakfast and since they are men in training they will take this opportunity to learn and listen to other men. They might even come with prepared questions. They will interact and listen a lot.
To start the transition, a church might want to start by inviting a certain older age, like 15 year-olds and up.
2. A Father-Son retreat meets a different need. The other group had a different focus. It definitely was a Father-Son retreat. Lots of games and a loud, raucous time. I don’t know what material they covered or serious activities they engaged in. But there is great value in stepping back and having time for grade-school boys to spend time with fathers. In addition, there were so many young boys I would not be surprised if they brought along boys from single-mom families.
There, on display, are two easy ways to encourage intergenerational relationships. No dramatic programming. No extra money. It fits easily into the church calendar.
Might one of those work in your context?