Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Carson Reed

Secondary Advisor

Vic McCracken

Committee Reader

Tera Harmon


ABSTRACT This project, Evaluating “GRIT” (Genuine Relationships, Intergenerationally Tied) at the Highland Church of Christ: An Intergenerational Enhancement of Small Group Community Life is a response to the request for intergenerational partnership in worship, fellowship, and ministry by the university students at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. The church’s robust small group life was a logical place to create a vehicle in which intergenerational partners could ride for a determined period in pursuit of their common goals of furthering Highland’s mission and vision. The “Genuine Relationships, Intergenerationally Tied” or GRIT groups were formed by combining existing small groups which were joined with university discipleship groups consisting of students, student leaders, and adult spiritual mentors from the congregation who regularly volunteer in university ministry. Founded on the key principles of perichoresis and kenosis within trinitarian doctrinal theology embedded in Phil 2:2–11 and the Fuller Institute’s Growing Young theoretical principles of “key chain leadership” and “fueling warm community,” these six partnerships gathered throughout the fall 2022 semester. Equipped with a familiar curriculum modeled after the typical “Discipleship in Groups” (DIG), GRIT groups explored the themes of koinonia fellowship, generational theory, and the value of intergenerationality within a church. Along the way many discovered commonalities, shared interests, and engaged in Christian service and informal fellowship, fostering varying depths of community life outside of but inspired by the frame of the project. Focus groups convened in spring 2023 to lend insight for the future 2 enhancement of Highland’s communal life, based on their GRIT experiences. These groups’ engagement in the pastoral cycle of observation, action, and reflection in examining and cataloging their shared experiences and key learning about Highland’s high value of intergenerationality will inform both the future of university ministry at the church and the body life of the congregation. Churches interested in university students becoming deeply integrated and experiencing mutuality in church relationships and ministries during their college years will benefit from examining this project. The church and innumerable future congregations stand to benefit from the rich learning students experience in the concentration of their university years when embedded in the diverse fellowship that is possible within a local church.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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