John Roberto, Becoming a Church of Lifelong Learners: The Generations of Faith Sourcebook (New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2006), 160 pp.
John Roberto is the creator and coordinator of the national Generations of Faith project, which aims to “develop lifelong, intergenerational catechesis in parishes.” In Becoming a Church of Lifelong Learners, Roberto lays out his case for intentional, intergenerational learning as part of the catechesis and discipleship programs in Catholic churches. Leaving out the now-familiar theological, sociological, and educational arguments in favor of intergenerational learning, Roberto begins by surveying the landscape of the Catholic church and noting with alarm the rapidly decreasing attendance and involvement in most local parishes.
One of his primary proposals is an event-centered curriculum that involves intergenerational learning events that revolve around the church calendar. For Catholic churches and other more high-church, liturgical traditions, this section will prove helpful. But for many churches, for whom celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi might seem a stretch, this proposal will not be much use.
Fortunately, much of the rest of the book could be extremely helpful to almost all traditions. Chapter four (“Practices of Lifelong Faith Formation: Intergenerational Learning for the Whole Parish Community”) gives some detailed sample outlines for what an intergenerational educational experience might look like, including options for all ages staying together the whole time or splitting up into smaller groups for part of the learning experience, ways to make the lesson meaningful to children and adults, sample activities and structures, and more. This, for many, will likely be the most helpful part of the book.
Chapter five takes these principles and applies them to actual family units, giving parents some help with doing faith formation at home with their children. This, too, is heavily dependent on the liturgical Christian calendar. The final chapter is especially for ministry leaders who want to begin making some of these moves within their congregations. Roberto gives advice for the vision-casting and strategic planning that will be necessary to become a church of lifelong learners.
Bottom line: this book is a real help for those who believe in intergenerational learning and need some help determining what that might actually look like within their own contexts.