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.”
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.”
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?”
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.
More posts on the topic of intergenerational ministry.
Author of "Thank You For Your Service, Sheep!"
"For God can speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds."
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