Bridging the GREAT DIVIDE

I know I speak for all of us when I say “good riddance!” to the Church Music Wars of the 1990’s and early 2000’s! As musicians, our hearts broke when the beautiful gift we were given was used as a tool that divided the Church. Now that those times are mostly behind us, we are breathing a sigh of relief and choosing service music with greater freedom. However, although the war is over, we have been left with a generational divide that churches are trying to fix.

The Body of Christ is powerful! If a church can bring together the freshness, creativity, and energy of the youth combined with the wisdom, foresight, and maturity of the older saints, they are a powerful force in this world! And so, for the past few years, churches have begun brainstorming about how to bring the generations back together: through music, programs, and service projects, to name a few. There is such a push for this, that we have created our own buzzword: multi-generational worship.

The BEST example of multi-gen worship I’ve ever seen happened decades ago (before anyone had ever heard of multi-gen worship) in a little church in the woods of Minnesota. Every Sunday evening, I would go to Joy Club, a verrrryyy unsophisticated program for kids, mostly organized so that there would be childcare during adult choir rehearsal, I suspect. And yet, the director of that Joy Club tapped into a truth that grew something big in our little church: RELATIONSHIPS bridge the generation gap like nothing else.

Each child in Joy Club was assigned an elderly “buddy” in the church, usually a shut-in who had little or no family. Every time we did something nice for our buddy (a card, gift, phone call, house visit) we received a point. Because I was a competitive child, I faithfully did something for my buddy each week so that I could get points —- so that I could win the big prize at the end of the year! It didn’t take long, though, for a friendship to forge with my buddy. Points quickly became unimportant as multi-gen relationships sprang to life all throughout the church. I remember still getting feebly written notes and cookies in college from my buddy, Mrs. Fairman. Oh, the stories she would tell about her service in WWII! I was so proud to know her!

People before programs. When generations build one-on-one relationships with each other in the church, multi-generational worship is a natural result. Programs are fine; diverse music is good (I’ve got a list below!); service projects are great! But RELATIONSHIPS are where true multi-generational worship begins. So, let’s go pour into some people, now!


Recommended multi-generational anthems:
How Can It Be
• Crown Him (Majesty)
Great I Am
He Shall Reign


Heather Sorenson entered the church music industry in her twenties, and her name quickly became a welcomed fixture in the publishing world. Heather is hired by the largest and most respected publishers in the world, and her pieces remain at the top of Bestsellers lists and Editor’s Choice selections. Initially recognized for her skill as a pianist, Heather is now known for her compositions in choral anthems, solo piano collections, and orchestrations. Her works are performed regularly at competitions, concerts, recitals, and churches worldwide. Although her career is sometimes on a big stage, Heather’s heart is leading the Church in worship, and she feels that her greatest calling is using her music to connect people with God. In addition to being a full-time composer, Heather regularly is a guest speaker and conductor at churches across America, and leads scores of sessions each year at various worship conferences, schools, and universities.

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