The Key to Doing Intergenerational Worship


On that morning the dew was heavy as we became this journey to the Magic Kingdom. The young people could hardly contain their emotions. The adults were bracing themselves for a long trip, deciding who would be the navigator, the driver, the entertainer of the young enthusiastic people in the back. As the trip got underway we began with a prayer, for safe travels, a fun vacation, and an opportunity to create lasting memories and give thanks for the three generations trapped for ten hours together on this family getaway. Once the prayer for a safe journey is over the key starts the engine and off we go.

Everything was going along swimmingly until some genius puts on some music to make time fly. And the generational war begins. Grandma wants to hear her favorite hip swinger, Tom Jones. Mom reliving her teen years wants to hear the Four Tops. Being sensitive to their lack of coolness, I want to bring them into the present and hear from a not yet discovered musical genius, Prince. No one wanted to expand their horizons and so this ten-hour trip is marked by everyone being unhappy during this trip. Welcome to Sunday morning at the intergenerational worship service.

This quote hits the nail on the head.

“The challenge of an intergenerational church is often reduced to worship style, and it is honestly difficult to plan and lead a worship service that appeals to the tastes of 5 generations all at once. But that misses the point. The biggest challenge is not appealing to everyone at once — Jesus wants disciples, not fans. Instead, the challenge is finding ways for every generation to participate in the mission and vision of our churches.”[1]


Avoid Reducing Worship to Likes and Dislikes


To move beyond making worship about likes and dislikes we have to focus on the mission of the church. It calls us to baptize, teach, and make disciples by our Lord in the Great Commission. You will also notice that the phrase “all generations can be found 91 times in the Bible, yet we divide generations up into subgroups.”

Howard Vanderwell, who’s editing a book about intergenerational worship says,“God does not form our character all at once or all by himself. Nor does he expect us to unilaterally form our own character. God acts on us through others. Interaction among generations is necessary for forming faith and character. Each age learns from another.”[2]

Steve Burger agrees. “Who or what we choose to exclude from our worship gatherings says as much about our community of faith as who or what we choose to include. And, really, does exclude anyone makes sense when you realize we’re spending an eternity together?”[3]

If we are serious about doing intergenerational worship it will take an attitude shift on the part of leaders, it will require humility as well as intentionality. The founders and builder generation can’t hold the other generations captive with a “this is how we’ve always done it” attitude. Nor can current generations use a “fresh and new is better” attitude. Worship leaders who focus on one or two age-groups and ignore others will kill this opportunity to bring people together for the good of the kingdom.

Everyone takes part.

I got the chance to preach at a congregation. And I noticed that it involved no lay people. Now I preach to a lot of congregations in a year and everyone does things a little differently. I missed having more people working alongside me leading people in worship. It is not my ministry, first, it is God’s and we are serving God’s people. For intergenerational worship to work I think you need to have all generations engaged in worship. This is our act of worship, we bring our praises to God and He is offering us His grace, forgiveness, and strength to live out our lives as Children of Light.

Questions to keep the conversation going, you can add your responses in the comment section.

  1. If intergenerational ministry is a priority for your church what have you done that is producing fruit?
  2. If your church focused more on some generations than others what steps will you take to reverse this trend?
  3. If your congregation provides opportunities to worship with people older or younger than you, what blessings has that experience in your faith formation? If your church doesn’t provide that opportunity, what could you add or adopt in your worship schedule to provide this opportunity to your members?


More posts on the topic of intergenerational ministry.






6 Comments on “The Key to Doing Intergenerational Worship

  1. I have read, and totally agree, don’t hire a worship minister. Hire a worshipper who always is worshipping before the Throne and will lead by example into true, humble, broken hearted passionate longing for the King and a word from the WORD. I have found, no matter how “lame” the sermon or the music, when my heart is prepared I hear from the Holy Spirit and I am blessed in glorifying the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a baby boomer who grew up on hymns I have realized we have to be flexible and open to change and I totally agreed with our worship team that we need to use contemporary music to be relevant to the younger generations (and I actually love most of the contemporary music). However, I find myself really not enjoying worship lately because the worship team is all very young playing only the latest song in KLOVE and the music is so loud my husband sometimes has to leave the sanctuary or turn off his hearing aids. It’s not about what we like or don’t like (I get that) but it seems the church is basically telling the older generation we no longer matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many churches cater to the younger ones because they are harder to reach, but it leaves older ones unhappy and feeling as if they don’t matter. Some churches have an earlier service with familiar hymns, which can be delivered with an up beat instead of dirges and a later one with contemporary music, for the younger ones and that can work too. I like being with the younger crowd but miss my old fashion hymns. They don’t mean to but it causes generational segregation. I think young people in general have a difficult enough time relating to the older generations as it is, so compromises may need to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

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