BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: Intergenerational classes

Here’s the Q:

Recently, you spoke at our xxx Diocesan Convention and it was wonderful. (I was the one in the back asking a question about “Empire.”) I’m a parish priest in yyy and I want to have an intergenerational class where we discuss your book. I know the high school age kids will be fine – but I also want to include middle schoolers. They are extremely bright and I know will have much to give to the conversation.
Do you have any ideas, or handouts that might distill or bring into focus the topic of your chapters so they would be easier for them to read – I’m thinking of vocabulary, and/or a framework of the questions explained and phrased in a way that would be more on their level.
Maybe you know some pastors who have done this kind of intergenerational experience with your book and you could put me in touch with them?
As you know, Christians need to include everyone in these ‘emerging church’ conversations – so I’m just trying to find a way to do that and would be extremely appreciative of any help you can provide.

First, I’m grateful you’re doing this. I really agree with you – under-18’ers will have a lot to offer. There’s a full study guide you can download here …
The study guide will be fine for the adults and maybe the older high schoolers. You might just present the questions and then say, “Which question would someone like to respond to?” This allows the younger people to hear the older people speaking about their faith, ideas, struggles, etc., which is really important.
Here’s another suggestion that might be especially helpful for the younger folks. How about taking one or two paragraphs from a chapter and putting them on a handout. Then have the students (and everyone) read those paragraphs together, first aloud. Then ask these four questions all at once:
1. What’s a question you would like to ask about anything in these paragraphs?
2. What’s something that you like or agree with?
3. What’s something you’re not so sure about?
4. What do these paragraphs make you think about in relation to your life and our parish?
Then give them a few minutes to collect their thoughts silently while rereading the passage. Then you might say, “First I want to hear from the under-19 members of our group …”
Maybe others will want to weigh in on this on my facebook page …