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Intergenerational Faith Formation: Inside Tabl•Ed at College Wesleyan

College Wesleyan Church, nestled in the vibrant college town of Marion, Indiana, serves as a central hub for community engagement and spiritual growth. Situated near Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University, the congregation has long been intertwined with the rhythms of student life. In recent years, College Wesleyan’s commitment to community development and fostering meaningful connections has expanded its vision of service and discipleship.

“At College Wesleyan, we strive to be humble neighbors, loving people in the name of Jesus,” shares Ethan Linder, Pastor of Discipleship at the church. “Over the past decade, we’ve increased our focus on community development, with the mission of ‘making more and better disciples who transform the community and resource the greater church.’”

In 2023, College Wesleyan initiated discussions to address the diverse needs and aspirations voiced by members of their congregation. Through a comprehensive listening tour and one-on-one conversations, they identified a shared desire for deeper exploration and practice of various aspects of faith.

“We engaged with individuals from all walks of life within our congregation and community,” says Ethan. “There was a hunger to delve into topics such as silence and solitude, evangelism, and Bible study. Through these discussions, we began to envision what a ‘seminary for laity’ might look like.”

Thus, College Wesleyan conceived “Tabl•Ed” – an intergenerational program fostering dialogue and exploration of the complexities of faith and life. With the support of a Resource Grant from the Center for Congregations, College Wesleyan’s vision came to fruition. Tabl•Ed brought together over 40 participants for six sessions of profound discussion.

“Tabl•Ed welcomed participants spanning all generations and backgrounds, ranging from our youngest attendee at 12 to our eldest at 88,” reflects Ethan. “We witnessed our tradition revitalized as this cohort of individuals from different life stages explored the essence of our faith.”

Collaborating with the Center for Congregations not only provided financial backing but also offered invaluable guidance. The Center played a crucial role in furnishing College Wesleyan with a supportive framework for nurturing curiosity and fostering connections.

“There’s a gift in having a built-in collaborative partner who is always thinking ahead,” says Ethan. “The Center for Congregations serves as thoughtful and compassionate curators of ideas, resources, and people.”

As Tabl•Ed evolves, College Wesleyan Church remains dedicated to both internal growth and sharing its insights with others. Recognizing the potential ripple effects beyond their community, Ethan emphasizes their efforts to refine the program for broader application.

“Word has spread about this model, with other churches beginning to adopt it,” says Ethan. “We’re actively exploring ways to distill our experience into a format that can be shared and easily implemented by others.”

College Wesleyan’s grant project with the Center for Congregations exemplifies the transformative power of intentional collaboration and communal exploration. Through Tabl•Ed, College Wesleyan has crafted a communal space where diverse voices converge, curiosity thrives, and connections deepen, offering a beacon of hope and renewal in an ever-changing world.

The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities. Contact us today.