Young Adult Hospitality as Intergenerational Outreach

In the Fall of 2019, Pivot NW attempted to host a dinner and panel discussion concerning Young Adult Hospitality. Our goal was simply to hear from voices in church and the hospitality industry that could help us examine our own biases about what young adults want and need from each other and from our churches in order to grow their faith.

Due to lack of interest, we canceled the event. But we reached out to a few folks among our partner congregations who practice young adult hospitality to learn about their approaches. Here is one musing by Tom & Susan Lane who, as a Boomer generation couple, have been hosting and creating a safe space for the Millennials at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church for the last few years (posted with permission):

I was sorry to learn that this month's conversation about hospitality with young adults was cancelled. Since hospitality is expressed in so many ways, we'd welcome opportunities to hear what others are finding helpful, what's gone wrong, and what they're learning about their own traditions and cultures. We started hosting monthly potlucks with young adults in our home about a year ago, and they've become a highlight in our schedule.

We love learning what the world looks like to people in their 20s and gaining insights into different ethnic and cultural stories. People our age (67) often can't imagine that hip young adults are interested in us, so Susan and I have been surprised and delighted to discover that they enjoy hanging out with us, hearing our stories, and being in our home. (We appreciate how the group sets up 'the big table,' brings out the folding chairs, knows where things are in the kitchen, and helps put stuff away and clean up.) We cherish the new friendships that are forming and the opportunity to give and receive perspective and encouragement, and pray for one another. We no longer assume that people prefer to gather only with others in their age group.

I liked the place settings idea, and recall our own experience of a growing "soup fellowship" that provided ladles and mugs to several other groups that it spawned. In addition to a small practical boost, it was a symbol and reminder that we began together and grew to become something new and life-giving.

Please let us know how we can help if there are other opportunities for this conversation to take place.

Tom & Susan Lane
Lake Burien Presbyterian Church

Even among the Pivot NW research and innovation team, Tom and Susan's openness and partnership with the young adults at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church is legendary, and yet probably not as wild or uncommon as it one might think. Do you know of any "Tom and Susans" in your congregation? What might help folks tip into this sort of outreach/hospitality if they are already inclined? What other models of young adult hospitality have you seen work?




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