In a world that seems so divided right now, music is a beautiful vehicle that brings people together regardless of lifestyle, politics, race, your Coke/Pepsi preference, etc. Unless you go to church, where music has been the divider of unity for decades. We all watched in agony as Satan used one of God’s most beautiful gifts to divide His Church. Thankfully, most of us are past the huge music wars, and churches are actively seeking to bridge those gaps that divided us for so long. Multi-generational worship has become a buzz word at conferences and weekly church staff meetings as we seek to bring together the two age groups that the contemporary and traditional services divided. I have found that most of these discussions are centered around bringing younger people back into the church, so I interviewed a 25-year-old millennial for this blog. Here are some of my take-away points:
• Bringing different age groups (together) into your worship planning can be an eye-opening exercise. It has been said that “it is hard to hate up close.” Hopefully the different generations in our churches don’t have any hate towards each other! But the sentiment of that statement shows that when you bring people together, it is much easier to have respect for differing viewpoints. And mutual respect is a necessary quality in multi-gen worship.
• The younger generation doesn’t always prefer “contemporary” (in quotes because contemporary means many different things to many different people), and the older generation doesn’t always prefer traditional/liturgical. In fact, we are seeing a shift in worship culture: millennials find beauty and depth in a worship heritage and tradition. Praise and Worship (which we often associate with the younger generation) is becoming the worship style of the middle-aged.
• While millennials find beauty in our faith heritage and tradition, they struggle with the monotony of routine. They enjoy creativity in worship. If your worship service never changes its format and flow, it’s probably not just the younger generation that is losing interest.
• Millennials are more interested in authenticity than style of music. My interviewee mentioned John 4:24 as her criteria for worship: “Those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth.” She mentioned that sometimes she feels that liturgical services focus only on theology and not enough on the spirit of worship. She also stated that there is a tendency in some contemporary services to focus only on the spirit and emotion of worship and less on truth and theology in the music. A worship service that includes both is our biblical model.
I believe that true worship is happening in both traditional and contemporary services. I also believe that once we realize that worship is a heart issue and not a style issue, it is much easier for us to achieve multi-generational worship. May God bless you and your ministry as you seek to worship Him in unity!