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!