Being intentionally intergenerational in worship can sound like an overwhelming task. Indeed, it does require some time and effort. As a place to start, consider planning a service that celebrates each generation and the particular gifts it brings to the body of Christ. Doing so may jumpstart your thinking about how to draw in all generations on a more regular basis. Following are two resources that could be used in such a service.
Articles in this issue:
Every Sunday morning at 10 a.m., worshipers fill wooden pews in the sanctuary that once housed Thirty-sixth Street Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan, a Grand Rapids suburb.
Ninety minutes later, as the first group streams down the center aisle to shake hands with the pastor at the back of the church, another set of worshipers enters from doors on either side of the pulpit area.
The way in which we worship and express faith must remain supple and open to the change necessary to be heard in an changing world.
Most North American congregations are already multigenerational, and those that are not are usually intentional about not wanting to be. In multigenerational congregations, the pressing issue for leaders is not only how does the church speak to new generations, but how does the church hold together multiple generations in one time?
2/12 Afternoon Ruminations . . .
LOFT has felt so flat these past weeks, and I’m not sure what that’s about. But God is good: today Nord and I talked about his work helping students to have healthy devotional lives, and how that’s a prerequisite for healthy weekly worship. Then I found this quote while digging around some old sermon files: “We can do all sorts of things to try to generate vigor in our worship, but if we do not have fire for the Lord on Wednesday afternoon, how can we on Sunday morning?”
This litany was originally adapted from the Wellspring Worship Group, based in the north of England, by Christine Jerrett and Susan Woodhouse for use in conjunction with the “Family Tree” service described in RW 75 (p. 20). It is suitable for any service that focuses on passing the faith from one generation to the next, such as All Saints’ Day or a profession of faith. The image of light also fits well with a service on evangelism, mission, or serving.
The following list of resources is a small sampling of the growing library available on the broad topic of understanding the various generations who worship in our churches. Some of these books could be added to your resource library, others could be read and discussed in a worship committee setting. All are available from Faith Alive Christian Resources (www.FaithAliveResources.org; 1-800-333-8300).
What does it take to become intentional about intergenerational worship?
The first step is to take an objective look at your congregation. You probably have a good idea of the balance of age groups in your congregation and how well each is represented in worship. But you might be surprised at what you can learn if you ask some of the following questions.
Who worships at our church?
Earlier this year, my pastor and I discussed number of options for visuals to enhance a four-week series he was planning on the attributes of God.
His ideas were good. He gave me the sermon topics early. He checked in with me periodically—inquiring but not pushy—as one who has a job to do but is used to being at the mercy of volunteers. He did his part well.
As for me, I could not get this thing off the ground. Did I have the designer’s version of writer’s block? Was I losing my knack? Had I finally lost whatever it was that I thought I had?
Since multigenerational worship services involve all generations, why focus on children? First, children need advocates because they are seldom allowed to share their thoughts, primarily because no one asks them. Second, the inclusion of children seems to be the biggest stumbling block when congregations begin to discuss gathering the generations together. Finally, adult generational issues most often focus on style and preferences. There is really no theological debate as to their inclusion.
Long-term Subscriber from Australia Retires
I have been a recipient of RW for close to twenty years, and during that time have found it to be a great resource for worship. I used much of the material and introduced the magazine to a number of like-minded ministers who also have found RW most beneficial and helpful.