Multigenerational Worship

A topic that is receiving a good deal of attention at worship conferences within the last few years is multigenerational worship. Increasingly, multigenerational worship appears to be the preferred approach to revitalizing the worship experience for churches of various type. For example, some churches that have offered venue worship are now turning their attention to a multigenerational model. To achieve a healthy multigenerational worship context, the members of the body must be committed to understanding and appreciating the interests of one another. I am asking students from a recent worship leadership class to share their observations on this topic but comments are welcome from all.

149 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 9, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Multi-generational worship is a tough context. One is literally having to be “all things to all people” as the Apostle Paul talks about in I Corinthians 9:22. However by utilizing the chart written by Michael Sharp called “Multi-generational Worship Profiles” here are my thoughts of worship concerning the sermon in this context.
    On the chart Sharp defines five different generations. They are the Builders, Boomers, Busters, Bridgers, and Children. Each of these different generations desire a different kind of sermon to help facilitate their learning and worship. The Builders want a simple outline sermon. The Boomers want practical application. The Busters want practical messages that apply to real life by telling real stories. The Bridgers want stories also, but they want to make certain their stories apply to putting their faith or “worship” into action. Lastly, the children want a narrative that they can relate to and illustrate the teaching. Having seen all of these elements used in various different sermons why could someone not have all of these components within a sermon? Let me give you an example. Just keep in mind that this example is a structure but it is not meant to become another carbon copy that people will become tired of. It too will need to remain flexible and indigenous to the context that the worship is taking place.
    Basically a potential sermon would be structured in an outline format. The outline would then allow the preacher to exegete a text to disclose the “topic” that is being taught in the passage. The preacher could apply this to a real world problem. Once identified the problem could become an illustration that the Busters would want emphasized. Then another illustration of how to fix it according to Scripture would appeal to the Bridgers. Potentially the kids could be allowed to worship through the sermon by using simple illustrations in the introduction or conclusion. After all this is usually when the thesis of a sermon is introduced or restated. They would then be allowed to tie the narrative with the sermon’s message. Also the conclusion could have a brief and memorable “application statement” that would appeal to the Boomers.
    This of course is an ideal setting and like anything in worship contains its problems. Some might say it is too inclusive, while others would say this model would become too predictable. Obviously the preacher should utilize some variety to this approach. But for the one that desires for all generations to worship through the sermon it is an option.
    Lastly, effectively preaching a sermon for all generations could mean that the sermon each week does not contain elements that appeals to all generations every week. Instead the preacher may need to learn to preach a variety of different expository styles to use over the course of multiple weeks. After all he is helping multiple generations worship through a sermon. It may take the very thing that divides them, which is time for everyone to be included in this element of worship than none at all.

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    • Posted by Christi Gibson on August 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

      I love that you focused on the sermon, rather than the music. We sometimes forget the exposition of God’s Word in our worship discussions. Until I looked at Dr. Sharp’s chart, I hadn’t really thought about the sermon being a part of the generation discussion.

      Our pastor sends his working outline, including illustrations, to our worship planning team. As we look at the sermon, we are more likely to consider the lost, new believers, singles, people who are grieving, etc. than the generations — but reading your post makes me realize that we could easily ask ourselves what each generation would be likely to hear in this sermon. Our team members are actually fairly representative: 3 Boomers, 1 Buster, and 2 Bridgers. We do not always do a good job of representing the children, but we do often consider the Builders, although we have none on the team.

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      • Posted by mack elkin on August 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

        As our group did the “blended” worship, we found ourselves moving quickly toward defining it as Multi-generational. By doing so, we were able to see more clearly a desire to have all the generations represented within the “ideal” church, for the growth and deepening of not just the community involved, but the families, their depth/roots, and also their ability to be accepting of and ability to relate to others for a fuller and well-rounded Christian. I would compare it to opening more than one door in the house during the spring or fall to allow the Spirit(breeze) to flow more freely. I know this analogy might not work for everyone, but I was recently in a more traditional church, and belonging to a more contemporary worship, the “traditional” stylel worship brought me back to earlier days combined with a longing and a quickening of the Spirit that day…Praise God!! The enemy has already split us in our theology to such a degree that we forget the principle of loving and appreciating other perspectives and personalities unlike our own, let us not travel too far down the road of worship that we realize his goal of tearing us apart generationally over our
        selfish preferences in worship. Not only that, we lose the “cultural signature of church worship” in America when we forsake the traditional styles that have lasted hundreds of years…

      • Posted by Stephanie on August 11, 2011 at 4:06 am

        I would just like to add to this: I found myself arguing, ummm, I mean passionately discussing, that worship is also the offering (as in the giving of our tithes and offerings)! At out church offering is a big deal (my friend did not like this). We all pray, together and out loud, but not scripted, over the offering. It is a time that we celebrate God’s faithfulness to ourselves, each other, and our church. Cheerful hearts giving to a loving Lord. That is also worship, but many times it is just another “thing” that we do. Worship is not just the music.

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:02 am

        Christi, as I have went back and read my own post I must say that the objection I have to my own post is that it is too inclusive. There is a point where one can be so inclusive that there is no depth at all. I wonder in my post if I didn’t make it so wide that there was not any focus? It could be that there needs to be multiple focusses over multiple weeks than all in one sermon each week. What do you think since you serve on staff with a staff from different generations?

    • Posted by Mike Cobb on August 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

      Dear Mike,

      Excellent presentation! Identifying the various ages in a multi-generational setting certainly helped in understanding the difficulty in presenting the Gospel. I must say that although I am a boomer, I identify the most with the bridgers. I really do not desire that practical application be present in every sermon. Thus, I believe the bridgers represent those individuals that sincerely want the Word to enforce belief, leading to action. Certainly, inclusiveness is necessary in a multi-generational worship service. I believe that the worship service cannot be too inclusive. I do agree that the pastor will need to learn a number of expository styles in order to reach all the congregation with the message

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      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 12:58 am

        Mike, I agree with you the preacher really needs to learn multiple styles of preaching. As I have studied evangelism I have found that there is not any one “plan” of salvation that is best. Rather by studying all of the different “tracks” the better one is to be an evangelist because they know different approaches to fluidly appeal to many different people. They can also be fluid more on the spot than by sticking with a script. As a Pastor/Preacher I have tried to learn everything from narrative preaching, expository, topical, etc. in order to not be stale but also to connect with different people. I have a congregation that is not multigenerational, but multiethnic and it has helped greatly!

    • Posted by Mike Cobb on August 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Multi-Generational Worship, Mike Cobb

      Utilizing Michael Sharp’s Multi-Generational Worship Profiles chart allows one to clearly understand and observe the different ages and characteristics of various congregations. If the Church is to worship as a body including all generations is essential. Michael Sharp identifies and defines five generations represented in many churches accross the country. The generations listed on the chart are as follows. The builders, boomers, busters, bridgers, and children. As Dr. Woodward stated in the introduction to this topic, many churches are turning from a venue oriented worship service to a multi- generational one. The challenges facing the pastor and the worship leader are myriad; however, Jesus’ admonition to worship ” in Spirit and truth [ John 4: 23 ] can only be adhered to if the church is willing to acknowledge and utilize the contributions of all generations represented in Sharp’s chart. We need to comprehend the context of the words of Jesus. Certainly, few examples of inclusiveness exist in Scripture than in our Lord’s words to the Samaritan woman. Following the example of Jesus will, in fact, include all five categories.
      Worship services that address the needs of the “Builders” will add to the great theology expressed in traditional hyms. The energy produced in music that takes into consideration the “Boomers,” the “Busters,” the “Builders,” and the “Children” will also build unity in the church. All five groups need a Word-driven service and this can be accomplished understanding the characteristics of the entire congregation and their individual needs

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      • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        Mike, I believe that you made an important point by noting that Jesus’ admonition can only be adhered to if the church is “willing to acknowledge and utilize the contributions of all generations.” I believe that the whole church must understand that every single generation has a contribution to make in the church. If we overlook or place one generation over another, we will not be balanced in our worship or outreach.

      • Please note that my last comment was accidentally entered under my wife’s account, so it will read “Kristi Malone” but it is actually mine. Josh Malone.

      • Not sure if my other post posted or not. But I think it is important that we know that for some congregations multi-generational worship is not as critical because that particular church may not be made up of as many generations. Does a churchplant made up of 20 and 30 somethings need a focus on multi-generational worship? I would not think so.

    • Posted by Steve Efferson on August 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      In the preaching classes I have been in it has usually been emphasized that one particular style of sermon is not the most effective. Varying the way a sermon is presented is a very effective way to keep people from getting too comfortable with a predictable pattern. There are some passages that lend themselves to certain delivery types. One of my favorite sermon outline styles is the one that Any Stanley uses. While he is very application driven he also has a very well defined expository section of his sermons. You can emphasize a great theme while still using a “to the point” outline. Many times a preacher will have an introduction to the sermon. This can be a story that will help bridgers connect with the topic. In the introduction the preacher can relate how the topic affects people in every day circumstances (busters). There can then be an expository section that outlines what God’s word says about the topic at hand (Builders) and then finish up with a sending or a practical application of the topic. For the children a preacher could have a short children’s sermon that is linked to the sermon that he will preach later. Of course that will not always work because of the topic the preacher may be discussing. It is very critical that a sermon addresses the needs of the people. What do they need to know about God? There are times where one style may be used, but I think it is possible to effectively use a combination of them.

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      • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:26 am

        Steve, I agree that a preacher should not preach in a particular way each time. The people will begin to stop listening because they know when its the end if we preach the same way each time. We must make sure that we do our part in being good communicators.

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

        Steve, when preachers get into a rut, the people often stop listening because of predictability. I agree that different styles should be used and different illustrations to reach multiple generations. This can be a challenge for the pastor but is necessary if you want to reach across generational lines.

      • I am curious as to the necessity if you will of multi-gen worship in the context of younger churches/church plants. If a church of 200 people is predominantly made up of 20 somethings does their really need to be a multi-gen approach? I don’t think good theology in music needs to be related to one generation, one can have solid biblical worship but not be focused on keeping all ages happy, particularly if a variety of ages aren’t represented.

    • Posted by Jeremy Willis on September 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

      Mike,

      I find your thought on multi-generational worship very interesting. I have spent much time the past few months thinking in-depth about worship styles, elements, and those who attend a service. I found myself wondering if instead of different services each week to please different segments of worshipers if maybe the service should change up a bit each week. I was thinking more along the lines of music style and flow of the service however you bring up interesting points about the sermon and its style and content. I think you may be onto something here. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Jeremy

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  2. Posted by Stephanie on August 9, 2011 at 3:09 am

    I really like the idea of multi-generational worship…but I have no idea how to accomplish it. As I led worship with our leaders and team every week, I see (some) seniors that don’t connect with contemporary music. However, they don’t always connect with “their” music either. That reservedness that our grandparents are known for does not always translate into a visible connection. There have been times that an elderly gentlemen or lady would tell me later that a song really blessed them, but I never would have known it had they not said so. The idea of our seniors being put out to pasture worship-wise is sad to me, and not what Christ would have in mind for His church. We must find a way to engage them if they are not engaged!

    One thing that encourages me is our youth. They have taken some great hymns and rearranged them/modified them/changed notes/changed words slightly, etc., in doing so, they have made them their own. They will take those songs with them as generations change, preserving the primers that taught our grandparents, parents, and us.

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    • Posted by Christi Gibson on August 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

      “I really like the idea… but have no idea how to accomplish it.” — I agree with this statement, Stephanie. I have eclectic tastes, so it is difficult for me to understand why it is so hard for any generation to relate to the music of another generation. I love the rearranged hymns — they bring something fresh to our heritage of faith. Yet they do not seem to satisfy those who complain about more contemporary music.

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      • Posted by Beth Tucker on August 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        I am right here with you ladies! At my church, we are “blended” but occasionally we try to bring in the multi-generational feel by giving our youth AND children the opportunity to lead the church in worship. One way the “Builders” stay engaged is because they see it as their grandchildren worshipping the Lord. I loved how Jeff Slaughter added the hymn”Take the Name of Jesus With You”…words from the chorus…”Precious name, oh how sweet, hope of earth and joy of heaven” into the VBS song for day 4 this year “I Will”. The Sunday after VBS, worship at Parkway looked very similar to Worship Rally during VBS. We sang all of the VBS songs from Jeff Slaughter. The following Sunday we made sure to sing an extra hymn or two. Everyone once in a while Parkway can lean towards multi-generational worship as in music. I know it was discussed above about the sermon. Every Sunday I do a Children’s Sermon during church and our pastor speaks to every age in attendance. “I really like the idea…but have no idea how to accomplish it.”—Is exactly where Parkway is right now. We are trying…but man, oh man…it is not easy! It is a heart matter which makes the difficulty a tad higher. How do we truly know the hearts in the congregation? Unless people tell us a song blessed them, or they loved witnessing their grandchildren worship the Lord…how do we truly know? God knows and I guess that is good enough for right now! 🙂

    • Posted by Kirk Maxey on August 10, 2011 at 3:04 am

      I agree that we must look to engage our entire congregation in the identified profiles. No question there. However, I’m frustrated by the lack of worship participation by the older generation. Of course we should not “put them out to pasture,” but I don’t see comparable accountability. Should they be held to a higher standard than the less mature Christians?

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      • Posted by Stephanie on August 11, 2011 at 3:59 am

        I’m not sure that we can recognize when the older generation is actually worshipping, except by their verbal testimony afterwards. At the same time, our youth may be physically portraying worship, but actually just be rockin’ out to a good groove. Neither group gets to get it their way. I have actually found myself saying this in worship meetings w/ our team. “THIS IS NOT BURGER KING! WORSHIP IS NOT A WHOPPER! EVERYONE CAN NOT HAVE IT THEIR WAY, ALL THE TIME!” The Burger King mentality of America has got to stop! Worship is about 1) Glorfying Christ, and 2) edifying the church. The answer to the worship wars is this: what glorifies and edifies?

        As part of the Gen X group, I sometimes feel a little torn. I grew up with those hymns, they are nostalgic to me. However, I had no idea what they meant until I was grown. I also love contemporary music, but it can be a little flaky and fluffy. But there are many wonderful, rich songs. Let’s use all of those! Rather than picking sides, let’s pick the best!

      • Posted by Lindsay on August 13, 2011 at 2:44 am

        I agree with Stephanie that we can never really tell when someone is worshiping just by outward appearances alone. When I think about this kind of situation, I always think of my Granny. I sat next to her in church for almost twenty years but I never heard her sing a word. She is a Godly woman who truly worships on Sunday morning, but she comes from a more reserved generation of Christians. She wouldn’t be caught raising her hand in the air, but the worship is there.

      • Posted by lvillestudents on August 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm

        I think Stephanie made some great points in her reply. When I look at our older generation I cannot tell if they are worshipping either. Like she said, most of the time it is not until they are finished and give verbal testimony, do we even realize they were engaging.

        I don’t necessary feel like I am torn between the two sides of contemporary and traditional hymns, I just feel like worship leaders do not do a good job of bringing both to the table. They bring this wonderful arrangement offering to the service one day and follow it up with something half-hearted, half-practiced, with half-enthusiasm. No wonder I can’t get a 15 year old student to realize the meaning in the words.

      • I agree with Stephanie and Lindsay that it is not our job to judge others based on their outward expressions of worship. God is the only one who sees our hearts and has the right to judge. The criteria many use to evaluate if a person is worshiping can seem very superficial when critically analyzed. Does singing a song along with a room full of people always mean that I had an encounter with God? Of course not. I love they hymns I learned as a child and the contemporary songs that are more current, but every so often a phrase from one of these songs will resonate with my soul as a sing it. It can make me stop and think about God in a whole new way or lead me to spend some time in prayer. Although I am no longer singing, I am still worshiping.

        Kirk- I do have one severe reservation with your statements. It seems like you are saying that older Christians are always more mature than younger believers. A vibrant relationship encouraged through continuing encounters with God, not age, determines spiritual maturity. Worship should be about leading people to have these encounters with God. That is the very heart of this discussion.

      • Posted by Matt Coker on August 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm

        The statement I am about to make reflects the area which I am currently serving and I am sure does not apply everywhere. The blended services that I see more than anything represent the illustration given in class where they took a wonderfully balanced and visually appealing meal and threatened to dump it into a blender. Of course, we know that the meal could have then been eaten (or rather drank) but no one would have enjoyed it. Multi-generation (in my opinion) is a new name for a blended service and it can still be presented as a wonderfully plated meal or a blended disaster. The thing is Stephanie, (once again this is happening in the current area that I am serving) wether right or wrong, people (young and old) are treating worship services like fast food establishments. They are saying, I would rather have Chic-fil-a (contemporary service) instead of Burger King (traditional service). Because of this I am seeing older traditional churches grow smaller and smaller. My hope is that wether one person likes traditional and another likes contemporary, their purpose in worship is the same. Burger King and Chick-fil-a, or contemporary and traditional, Different taste but the same purpose.

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

        Kirk, what does “worship participation” look like? Could it be different for each generation? What does “worship participation” look like from a maturing devoted follower of Christ? Doesn’t it extend beyond certain actions during a service?

      • This is a good point. Sadly though age is not always a true sign of spiritual maturity. Some people in their 20’s are mature Christians, and some people in their 60’s are immature.

    • Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on September 2, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Stephanie,
      I really appreciate the perspective you have on viewing the “reservedness” of some people in worship, especially people in the older generation. I loved how you pointed out the comment that the elderly woman said the song affected her, even if an observer maybe would think the opposite from viewing that woman during the song. I think it is important to remember (especially in multi-generational worship) that people express their worship in different ways. If a person chooses to stand still or sit during a hymn, then it does not necessarily mean they are not worshipping and connecting with God. On the contrary, if a person raises their hands or claps during a more contemporary or emotionally-driven song, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are worshipping. It is definitely important to find the proper balance when dealing with musical style and multi-generational worship, and it is also important that we do not try to judge if someone is worshipping or not or if their style is worshipful or not! Thanks for your post! it was very insightful!

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    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Stephanie, I appreciate your comments concerning worship. It has been my experience as well that many of the older generation do not express themselves in worship in a way that is seen by others. Some of it is the way they have been raised while another part is that they have different ways to express it. I agree also that no group should be totally set to the side to accomadate for another. All ages must remain important.

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    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      Stephanie, I appreciate your post. You make a great point that we can not always recognize when our senior adults are engaged in worship. I can go to our 9:45 service, filled with primarily older generations, and “feel” they were not engaged in worship. But who am I to determine whether they were engaged? Recently, I attended both the 9:45 and 11:00 o’clock services and honestly beleive that the senior adults were more engaged in worship than our younger generations at 11 o’clock. Not only did they seem more engaged in worship through music but also in the sermon. It was extremely encouraging.

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  3. Posted by Christi Gibson on August 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I desire to be a part of multi-generational worship. I love sitting between my 77 year old mother and my 19 year old son and worshiping God together. I love seeing children in worship, and hearing of their responses to the songs and sometimes to the sermon.

    Looking at the chart by Dr. Sharp, I do not see how it would be possible to offer worship from the platform that would satisfy each group. How can you be formal for the Builders and and casual for everyone else at the same time? How can you be slick for the boomers and rugged and real for the busters at the same time?

    Based on this chart, and somewhat on my own experience, I believe that the boomers and the busters may be the biggest problem. If Boomers are so set on having the newest and the best, and expect to be given preference — and Busters are just busy hating on the Boomers, where is there room for worship? I am a Late-Boomer (born in 61), and I will be the first to say that we are a selfish generation.

    I do believe, however, that multi-generational worship can occur. (1) Worship planning must be intentional and focused more on revelation and response than on style. (2) Worshipers must be taught and trained to be more concerned with what they bring to worship than with what they are given in worship,

    I like to think of having a worship-pod with music downloaded by everyone in the worship family — It wouldn’t be an ipod, because that’s all about me and all the varieties of music “i” like to listen to. The worship pod would have playlists with names like: repentance, God’s glory, living water, forgiveness, confession, celebration, creation, etc. It would not have playlists with titles like hymns, traditional, 70’s contemporary, 80’s contemporary, 90’s contemporary, bluegrass, jazz, etc. In planning worship, we would go the the appropriate playlist and see what was available. The worship leader would consider transitions and keys and all that good stuff, and we would be good to go. Sometimes our service of worship would look more traditional and other times it would be more contemporary. As we saw how it was coming together, we would set the stage (or space) accordingly. We could provide the clear instructions that the builders want in a worship guide.

    A few more random points:
    (1) if we consider all that we bring to God as worship, then we really do address much of what the generations desire as we “do church” together. It may not be in the walls of the sanctuary, and there may not always be music accompanying us, but we are doing it.
    (2) for this to work, we’ve got to attempt to “get” one another’s expressions of worship, and not judge or scoff. If a builder or a boomer is more reserved than I, I cannot assume they are not worshiping. If a buster or bridger is more casual than I, I cannot assume they are irreverent. I need to bring myself to God as a living sacrifice, not go about crucifying or burning others.

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    • Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on August 10, 2011 at 2:55 am

      Christi,
      I have the same feelings as you, in that I would love to be a part of a multigenerational congregation! My church is contemporary, and has lost some of the richness of the community that a multigenerational congregation must have. I appreciate your “random points” section because it makes several conclusions about worship that need to brought up in order to refocus our attention to the purpose of worship. I agree with your first point in that true worshippers desire to bring God pure worship, regardless of worship style or the age of the worshipper. I believe that your second point relates to the first, in that we should strive to obey the second greatest commandment to love one another. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we will gain love and respect for one another in seeking to understand each other’s worship “language”. You brought up a great point that we cannot assume someone is or is not worshipping based on their preferences or expressions (or lack of) in worship style. Thank you for refocusing our attention on the purpose of worship and the importance of loving others in the process!

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    • Posted by Chris DeGeorge on August 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      Wow definitely. We absolutely must emphasize more than an hour on Sunday as the expressions of worship at our churches. I would add that Paul in Philippians 2 says to, “consider others more important than yourself.” This must be a consideration for our worship. We have to hold worship services that are faithful to glorify God, and are consistent with the churches context and vision. At the end of the day the smallest part of our worship should take place inside of the “Sanctuary.” Most of it should be happening in our homes, workplaces, and schools, etc. These place have nothing to do with styles of music.

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    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 11, 2011 at 1:15 am

      “Worship planning must be intentional and focused more on revelation and response than on style”-Christi, thanks for pointing this out. Multi-generational worship is impossible if our main intention is to please everyone. As we discussed in class, worship cannot happen without the Holy Spirit and a group of people of all different ages definitely cannot be unified without the Holy Spirit. Great statement about not judging others in worship as well. We never know what others are experiencing.

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      • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

        I agree. The primary focus of worship must always be God. As we plan worship, we can defintiely be mindful of the groups within the congregation. However, the goal must be to worship God and not to please all the people because that is an unreachable goal.

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Christi,

      I enjoyed your post a lot as it made me think about a two things distinctively. The first is the iPod versus the worship-pod concept. I had never really made the profound connection that the iPod’s name by design was so self-centric. It makes perfect sense when I look at it now. But your idea of the worship-pod was a great idea. This connection you pointed out has prompted me to look at the library within the music we have at home. But also something else did too, which is connected.

      In our class what I learned most is that worship is anything music, art, etc., that connects us better to a Creator God and then points to His Son Jesus Christ. That can mean a broad spectrum. Also since according to Romans 12:1-2 our lives should be one of worship at all times it has really made me examine not just my iPod but also everything I do. Along with everything everyone else does that they call worship, because if it does not point to Jesus ultimatley it is not worship, but iWorship and we are stuck in our own selfish little pods of life that are going to fail us one day. Rather we should point filter all we do through one basic question. Is what I am doing worshiping the Creator and His Son? If the answer is “no” we are wrong!

      Once we are able to do this I then believe we can get the second thing, which you spoke about in your post. This is of course being able to “get” one another’s expressions of worship. By filtering true worship expressions by determining if it points to God or us we are then able to look past our preferences and see that it is not the mode of worship that is important but the candidates heart that matters.

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      • Posted by Amy Dryer on August 23, 2011 at 1:30 am

        A comment of yours made me think of something. You mentioned that worship is anything and listed the arts in general. I wonder how that fits in multigenerational worship. One of the major charateristics of emerging worship, which is attractive to the younger generations, is using the arts, especially visual stimulation. Visuals are also great for children, which should be included in worship preparation if that worship service is truly multigenerational. Older generations focus much more on the written word and auditory stimulation (hymnals, preaching, etc). This means that the discussion isn’t just about song styles, but is broader than that.

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on August 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      I loved your post. I thought it was insightful and challenging. I think one of the best points you made was “Worshipers must be taught and trained to be more concerned with what they bring to worship than with what they are given in worship.” It reminded me of my responsibility as a staff member to help equip our people to worship God. It is so easy sometimes to look at them with a critical eye, but the way you approached it is more of a challenge and really a call to ministers to equip our people and to teach them about worship. The truth is if we care going to teach them then we must know how to worship ourselves! Great job!

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      • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm

        Joseph, I believe that is where we must start is teaching our people the meaning of worship. We cannot make anyone worship. We also cannot move people past their preferences without first teaching and reminding them on Whom we must focus.

  4. Posted by Richard Beatty Jr on August 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Multi-generational worship sounds wonderful. Here there is fertile ground for mentoring and cross-general relationships that help all toward spiritual maturity. However, there is a cultural challenge present in our American society that must be understood before multicultural worship can be realized.

    Joseph H. Hellerman in his book entitled “When the Church was a Family” writes, “Why is there a marked increase in relational breakdown in our society and in our churches today?” Hellerman continues, “I suggest that it is the unique orientation of western culture–especially contemporary American society–that best explains our propensity to abandon, rather than work through, the awkward and painful relationships we so often find ourselves in. Social scientists have a label for the pervasive cultural orientation of modern American society that makes it so difficult for us to stay connected and grow together in community with one another. They call it RADICAL INDIVIDUALISM…. We in America have been socialized to believe that our own dreams, goals, and personal fulfillment ought to take precedence over the well-being of any group–our church or our family, for example, to which we belong. The immediate needs of the individual are more important than the long-term health of the group. So we leave and withdraw, rather than stay and grow up, when the going gets rough in the church or in the home.” (pg4) ISBN 978-080544779-8

    I believe Hellerman is onto something huge here!! While selfishness is nothing new, it would seem that our American society at large celebrates selfishness. Our economy, based on the capitalistic model, holds “self-interest” as the key to success and the American dream. Yet, economically speaking, self-interest is not the same as selfishness, however, we in our fallen sinful nature often blur the line between the two and selfishness ends-up manifesting itself in every part of our lives, including church life.

    In order for us “to achieve a healthy multi-generational worship context” we must recognize (and deal with) the obviousness of our propensity toward selfishness so that “the members of the church body would be committed to understanding and appreciating the interests of one another.”

    Reply

    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 11, 2011 at 1:25 am

      Thanks for bringing out Hellerman’s insight. I agree with you that this selfishness seems to be a dominant issue in the church as well. I think in this case we must recognize that worship begins with the Word. We respond to God’s message of salvation and continue in it. What I mean is, if the Scriptures are not faithfully preached (by faithfully I primarily mean expositionally) sanctification likely is not occurring. This also means we will continue to exhibit selfishness and animosity towards one another (the old self). Ending the worship wars begins with us ‘putting off the old and putting on the new,’ as indicated by Paul in Colossians 3, responding in obedience to God’s Word.

      Reply

    • Posted by Stephanie on August 11, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Wow. I had never thought about our lack of being a family in our families having an affect on worship. Simply brilliant. We have lost the ability to grow together in community. I think that this is one reason folks church hop.

      Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks for your post my friend! I think when Hellerman writes, “We in America have been socialized to believe that our own dreams, goals, and personal fulfillment ought to take precedence over the well-being of any group–our church or our family, for example, to which we belong.” is a very interesting thing to ponder. Slowly over the last half of the last century another line was blurred also. That line was that the American way is the Gospel way. This “may” (and I have serous doubts) have been the way it was at one one brief point in the 20th century, but it is not that way now. Still that line was blurred enough to where one of the things that make worship tough, and trying to convert people to a worshipful life in Christ is that this idea was planted and it still rests in peoples mind today. Therefore it is tough to lead others to worship when they believe they already are.

      Reply

      • Posted by Christi Gibson on August 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm

        “…it is tough to lead others to worship when they believe they already are.” Scary, but true.

    • Posted by Amy Dryer on August 23, 2011 at 1:37 am

      This makes a lot of sense, because in past generations families were stronger, closer, and generations interacted together more. Since families are breaking down between the generations, the church family is as well. If we can get families communicating, maybe we would see more communication between generations at church as well.

      Reply

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        Amy, I appreciate your insight. How do you think the spiritual condition of individual families in the church would affect the church family and multi-generational worship? I have been a Children’s pastor for over four years and have noticed a “selfishness” of parents. They seem to care about themselves and what they “get” much more than their children’s spiritual development. Not only should we get families communicating, we should get families fulfilling God’s desire for them. His desire that parents be the primary spiritual influence and not the church (Sunday School teachers, children leader, etc.)

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you for bringing Hellerman’s ideas into this discussion. It is an idea that requires much thought. Has the American church become prey to “radical individualism”? My first reaction is to say “no” but will definitely give this some more thought.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Beth Tucker on August 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Multi-generational worship simply put is worship that someone who is 100 can connect with the Creator and someone who is in Elementary school can connect with the Creator. The great thing about worship is, it can happen in many different ways, but this also at times can be a not so great thing. Every different generation connects in different ways, shapes, and forms. No generation is right or wrong. We all need to come back to who we worship and why we worship.

    On Sunday mornings people who come to church often want leaders to connect them with the Lord, when actually it is their personal responsibility. As leaders we should aide in the process but we cannot connect for them. This starts with teaching. I work with kids. Many times they do not even know they have done something wrong, or against what God wants for them. Adults are the same way. Some do not know how to connect with their Creator in new ways. As leaders in the church we need to help teach all generations how to worship in different ways.

    A child typically does not know what a hymn may be saying. Every time we sing a hymn and my church and I am sitting with some of my kids I always have one or two pull on my dress and ask what a few words means. Once the hymn is explained they have a little bit more of an understanding of what was just sung. The same could be said of the older generations of our churches. This year Jeff Slaughter wrote and rap song to John 3:16. Some of the older members of my church asked me what the song was saying. After I explained to them it was John 3:16 they were so impressed all of the kids at VBS could recite it! Teaching leads to understanding on all levels.

    At Parkway we try to involve every generation at some point of the service. The sermon is for all generations. We have a Children’s Sermon every Sunday. Multiple generations lead in prayer. The praise team consists of all ages. There is a portion of service that all generations. As a staff we try very hard to make all moments of tension teachable. We have had some tension due to a song being too fast, or too slow. Where there are people, there will be tension. Pleasing everyone on Sunday is impossible. We are imperfect people. As long as God is pleased with our worship to Him all is well.

    Worship changes from person to person, so of course it will change from generation to generation. Worship doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings either. If our people are worshipping throughout the week, their Sunday worship should be focused on the Lord. It all goes back to the heart. Teaching our people multiple ways to worship should aide in the process of unity within the body. It is all about bringing glory to God.

    “In everything I say and everything I do I want to bring glory only to you! I’m gonna be alert, stand firm, brave and strong and let my every action be done with love. God is calling us all to be a part of fulfilling the mission of His heart. Live it out, shout it loud, show the world what love’s about!” –Live It Out (VBS Day 5, Big Apple Adventure)…from 1st Corinthians 16:13-14

    Reply

    • Posted by Stephanie on August 11, 2011 at 4:17 am

      I love the fact that you brought out the big nasty: “On Sunday mornings people who come to church often want leaders to connect them with the Lord, when actually it is their personal responsibility. As leaders we should aide in the process but we cannot connect for them.” I find that this is a HUGE problem. It is as if some people can not worship unless their style of worship is happening. I find that to be utterly ridiculous. Jesus has done so much for me, has loved me so well, and blessed me so much, HE overwhelms me. HE is enough, more than enough. If my church calls a ban on music tomorrow, I will still be worshipping Him-through prayer, through offering, through sermon, and I might just bust out in song anyway! Nobody has to connect for me, I want to connect with Him!

      Reply

      • Posted by Christi Gibson on August 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

        Amen and Amen.

      • Posted by Steve Efferson on August 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

        And yet another Amen!

      • Posted by Joseph Bird on September 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        You make a great point. This also encourages us as leaders to be an example of what it means to passionately worship God. We must be a light to those who look up to us and who seek to know and honor God.

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        Stephanie, well said! We worship God because HE IS WORTHY! It is not about the style of worship but simply about worshipping Him because he is worthy to be praised.

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:04 am

        I just had to say it too but, “AMEN!”

    • Beth-

      Great perspective! Thank you for highlighting the need for educating people on worship. I too am a part of church that involves people from all ages and stages of life into our Sunday morning services. I recognize that each age group has specific needs, and at my church these needs can be met through age appropriate Sunday School classes or other ministries of the church. Our main worship service is for everyone! While children may not always understand everything that is said and done the first time, they are learning as they experience what it means to go to church and worship in very real ways. Some churches have sperate worship for children and youth. The result could be an 18 year-old who has never seen a baptism, participated in communion, or seen a senior adult lift their voice in song. This, of course, is the most extreme possibility, but it highlights the concept. As the entire body of Christ joins their hearts and lives in worship, He allows us to learn from each other. When we can value the contributions of others, like the rapped memory verse or the age-old hymn, we are taking another step toward unity and worship that makes God smile.

      One final thought. I loved that you mentioned this years VBS music in a couple of your comments here. The music was great this year!

      Reply

  6. Posted by Tyler Sandifer on August 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    If we are honest, who is really concerned about multigenerational worship? Is it the young, hip, contemporary (relevant) church or is it the dying church? In my experience, it is the dying church. They are looking around at their aging congregation and beginning to panic. I readily admit that my experience is limited and that this question is also tossed around by theologians and academic types that are not part of dying congregations, but for the most part multigenerational worship is not a concern for churches exploding with young families. Why is this? Because for the most part, as church leaders, we are not really concerned about how we worship, but how that worship is effecting the growth of our church. And if our worship style is bringing in and helping us keep young families, then numerical growth is inevitable. So, as churches, isn’t our focus on multigenerational worship futile? If we expect the way we worship to draw new people, then we need to focus our worship style on the younger generations. Otherwise, new growth (if we rely on worship to fuel growth) will be nearly impossible as most older adults will not be changing cities or churches at a late age. The only “new” pool to draw from, especially in big cities, are young people and families.

    I have to admit that this post is somewhat shallow and ideally worship’s focus is not primarily to create and sustain new growth. But in my experience, this is the focus of worship in most churches. If we are going to rely on worship for growth, we should not focus on multigenerational worship, but on relevant or contemporary worship. With that as the main focus, then we can make some concessions (like throwing in a hymn every now and then) with the older generations which are often willing to go through change to see their churches grow and not become obsolete.

    Reply

    • Posted by Richard Beatty Jr on August 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      If churches “rely on worship for growth” are they / we not then worshiping for all the wrong reasons? Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18. Recognizing Jesus as the chief architect of the church takes all the burden off of us / me to “grow” anything. Worship then that is multi-generational seeks first to honor Christ. Honoring Christ also involves honoring our father’s and mother’s (Matthew 15:4-9) by not forgetting about them in the corporate worship hour. I cannot imagine God blessing any church that puts its elderly out to pasture in the worship hour. Furthermore, one day, if God chooses to bless, we too will be old and will hopefully not be forgotten, only to have a “contemporary song thrown in every now and then…”

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:12 am

        Ideally I think the elderly must be willing to put their ideas out to pasture. This is not meant to be rude but rather to grab one’s attention. In short there must be a point to where both generations are respected. Of course we know that usually it is the younger generation that is held hostage by the older generation. One way to help bridge this gap and make some progression is for the older generation to remember that they must think beyond themselves in order to have a church for a generation beyond them. As Dr. McKeever says, “they must think about building a church that will reach their Grandkids friends with the Gospel.”

    • I would agree that worship needs to contemporary or relevant, many if the mega-churches today have found there target audience with the worship and are doing a great job with worship. But I think you are forgetting that multi-culture is very relevant and can do a great job with worship. I know many MK’s that didn’t grow up in America and would prefer to worship with other cultures, I know many people who despise the “American way of life” and wont go near a contemporary setting, I grew up in South Texas and at times prefer the Hispanic culture over a contemporary or emerging setting. The world is shrinking everyday and a lot of people don’t come from one unique culture setting and truly enjoy mixing and learning from other cultures. The dying church may be concerned about the multi-culture church because they are dying and they know that they need to find a new niche or market to minister too. A multi-culture setting is not going to draw the biggest crowd but there is a population of people that the multi-culture can reach and minister to.

      Reply

      • Posted by Joseph Bird on September 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm

        I like how you approached this topic. I, like yourself, feel as though a lot of mega churches are doing a great job of reaching a younger audience, but I feel as though something is often missing if this is our only aim. Multigenerational worship is a tough thing to figure out but I definitely feel as though it is something we should seek after.

    • Posted by Steve Efferson on August 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      I love contemporary music, and I do think that you need to consider the culture of the community in worship. Music is a tool that can lead people to worship. Using music that resonates with younger people is good and it may bring in more people, but are those people growing? As Richard pointed out, it is Jesus that grows and builds a church not a worship style. I am part of a growing, blended style, church. We are growing because the people are growing in the Lord. We must remember it is not about where or how but Who. We also have to remember that having massive crowds at church does not mean anything spiritual is happening. Joel Osteen draws a large crowd and so does Benny Hinn. Elvis and Garth Brooks used to draw crowds who liked their music. We have to be careful when we begin to evaluate success in the church by how people are responding to music. Again, I love contemporary music, but it is not the main thing.

      Reply

    • Posted by Amy Dryer on August 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

      This post assumes that there are no members of the older generations lost and in need of reaching for the gospel. The church should be multigenerational, because it is made up of families, who are multigenerational. Not only are there lost people in the older generations who might enjoy older styles of worship, it is important not to isolate the older generations in the church who can offer wisdom to the younger generations. Plus, the Bible warns against mistreating the older generation. Proverbs 23:22 “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (ESV)

      Reply

  7. Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on August 10, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Multigenerational worship is an important topic that definitely should not be overlooked in the current worship discussion. My experience with multigenerational worship has been varied throughout my corporate worship experiences. As a child and throughout highschool, I was a member of two very traditional churches that had great variety in the age range. One church in particular had varied ministries to meet the needs of the different age groups. Currently, I am a member of a contemporary church where the average population of the church is young families around 30-35 years of age. We probably have ten or less people who are older than sixty-five. While this church is definitely effectively reaching out to younger families, it lacks the wisdom and richness of the older Builders and Boomers generations. While effective multigenerational worship may be difficult to achieve, I think it is something to be strived for because of many positive factors:
    – Wisdom: The older generations have much wisdom to impart upon the younger generations. One thing that is gained from a multigenerational congregation is the aspect of mentorship. Although many young people may not believe that there is anything beneficial to learn from “old school” people, there is much to learn and to respect!
    – Energy: The younger generation, as well as new Christians, bring with them excitement and energy into life and worship in particular. This can challenge the older generation to be fresh and passionate about worship.
    – Focus of Worship: An effective multigenerational worship setting will take into account the needs and worship styles of each different tier of worshippers. Because the service will take on varied styles of music and preaching techniques, each group will have to sacrifice a little in different areas in order to reach everyone. This will remind the members that worship is not about them. When a church is primarily composed of one particular generation and thus caters to those people in every way, the members may become comfortable and focused on staying comfortable in their worship styles, instead of focusing on the One whom they are worshipping. While contextualization (style and relevance) are important, worshippers must remember that the focus of worship is to bring to God the honor and glory due His name, not to “get something out of it”, even though we are blessed in worship.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tyler Sandifer on August 10, 2011 at 3:37 am

      I do sometimes wonder if we too often equate age with wisdom. Wisdom comes from God and does not always follow the pattern of age. Still, age brings experience, and experience can breed understanding. I just think it is a fallacy to always equate age with wisdom.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tyler Sandifer on August 10, 2011 at 3:42 am

        After re-reading my post I wanted to make it clear that I do not think you are necessary equating age to wisdom…this is just something I thought about during class discussion.

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:14 am

        I have often been told that wisdom is the application of knowledge. If this were true than wisdom can occur at any age. The amount is of course up to the individual and how much they have obtained. Also the wisest thing anyone can do is to keep learning and applying what one learns. How many older people do we know with the attitude that they are finished learning intentionally?

    • Posted by Christi Gibson on August 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      I totally agree with this, Jacquelyn.

      But, because the post is yours and I immediately thought of the way you and I have gotten the joy of doing ministry together, even though we go to different churches, I have had a totally different thought.

      What if our churches learned to join hands in ministry — so that it wasn’t one church doing this and another church doing that? If we were working together more, maybe we’d get the benefits of being multi-generational, but we could all still worship in our own language.

      I don’t know if this could ever happen — but it’s something to think about. I still want to do worship all together, but if we can’t, then maybe we can do service together as an act of worship.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Micah Murphree on August 10, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Multigenerational worship may or may not be a factor and I think a lot of that depends on the environment/community. I can think of multiple churches in and around the Birmingham, AL area that just focus on the younger generation. It appears as though they have no desire to reach the older generations but I think that works for them. The environment/community allows for it. It’s a big enough community to appeal to just one specific crowd and there are enough churches for everyone to find something that fits them.

    On the other hand if you live in a smaller community, multigenerational worship is a necessity for churches that want to survive. These smaller communities will not have the population to support a church that just focuses on one generation (if it does, I doubt it is a very healthy church). Those churches that do nothing to focus on the younger generations are flirting with dying out. Those that do not focus on the older generations may not have enough wisdom and resources with the “elders” to grow and thrive. My in-laws are in a church that does nothing to attract the younger generation and this frustrates the mess out of my father-in-law. He sees the writing on the wall and believes his church will die out unless drastic measures are taken. Unfortunately, the pastor will not listen and is on “cruise control” nor will the other deacons. The lack of multigenerational worship may seal their fate!

    Reply

    • Posted by Brad Gaunt on August 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      I agree with Micah that some churches can cater to one specific group or culture. Sometimes, this works out well, especially with the younger generation. Usually it can only happen when the church is either in a larger city or maybe even in a college town. However, no church should completely ignore the older generation. There is a lot of wisdom and experience with these people. My church in college had a large college age population, but I did not learn a lot from them. I learned from spending time with some of the older and wiser people that had been with the church for a while.

      I also agree that single-generation worship in a small town will likely end that church. If the older generation does not compromise to help bring in the younger generation, then the church will die as the members age. Multigenerational worship is not a nice concept, it must happen to some extent for small churches to survive.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on September 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Micah,
      I appreciate this perspective on multigenerational worship. When initially reading Dr. Woodward’s topic, I thought that it was right to defend multigenerational worship because there is so much that each generation can learn and benefit from one another. I agree with the perspective that you brought up about how the community/environment plays a big role in whether or not multigenerational worship is a good fit. Your example of Birmingham was great in showing that having separate churches for different generations is beneficial for that community. Also, you mentioned a smaller town where there may only be one community church, and in that case, it would be important for all generations to be represented in the service. This was something that had not even crossed my mind! Thanks.

      Reply

      • Posted by Micah Murphree on October 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm

        I don’t think I would have though about it this way either but I got to experience both sides in both big city and small town to get these perspectives and to be honest had never really made the connection until this blog.

        Interestingly enough I have an update to my father-in-laws church that I talked about above. The pastor retired! I think this is the best thing for the church unless they make a bad hire! Hopefully they will reach out to the younger generation and the elders will step up to mentor and lead w/ wisdom!

  9. Posted by Kirk Maxey on August 10, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Multigenerational worship is highly desirable, yet difficult to achieve. There are competing interests at play. The differing ideas about how the service should be conducted seem to be at the forefront. However, I see the crux of the issue as mature Christians not behaving as such. In my experience if some younger individual does not identify with the service style, music, etc., and does not participate, we call them immature and expect them to change. But when someone older acts that way, we tend to blame it on his or her upbringing. Of all people, shouldn’t older Christians be the ones held to the highest standard? If a person has the energy to leap to a microphone during a business meeting to complain about something or make twenty phone calls to update other church members of the latest news, then they should also have the energy to worship God with some level of enthusiasm. I have been to services where it was as if we were just there to pay our respects to God (like at a funeral), not to worship Him.

    I think we are doing everyone a disservice when we don’t make a stand on this issue. I’m not calling for jumping jacks down the aisle, but for God to receive at least the same level of response that people are already willing to give to loved ones for other reasons. I don’t think we should ever have to tell a young person who comes to us requesting a more engaging worship style that we just have to wait for people to warm up to the idea of change. Isn’t that really just code for let’s wait until enough of those people who would object die out?

    (OK, rip away..:)

    Reply

    • Posted by Daniel Howard on August 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Kirk,

      You hit on some good points. I think there has to be some initiative taken my the leaders in the church to bring both sides to an understanding of engaging worship and what that looks like for multigenerational worship. We have to make an effort to bridge the gap and to be honest many times there are not enough people willing to strive for peace. Many times people are simply driven by what they want and have no real desire to reach a compromise. There must be an effort made by both sides to love one another and give in some. We must find common ground and worship God together as a community of believers on that common ground.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on September 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Kirk, I think you definitely brought to the forefront the focus on what our worship should be. Our worship should be focused on Christ and not our preferences, and each church within each style could use a good reminder of that! Although it is true that people (and specifically, different generations) may have different worship style preferences, these preferences should not be our first priority when gathering with fellow believers to worship the Lord. The other point you made about Christians needing to act like Christ when dealing with different preferences on worship styles is another great reminder. Thanks for your perspective!

      Reply

  10. Posted by Chris DeGeorge on August 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Multigenerational Worship is so interesting because of the dynamics involved between old and young. First it will be impossible for everyone to be happy all of the time. We do not live in a perfect world. The struggle between finding a balance for multiple ages to worship together will be a difficult one. At the end of the day what wins out will have to be something bathed in prayer, and considered in light of the churches specific context and vision. My thought is that the danger in this debate is that we would label sides unfairly. Typically that is Old= Unspiritual and Young= Spriritual. The opposite side could be Old= Reverent and Young= Irrevrent. Both sides must truly come ready to abandon any pre-conceived biases against a certain type of Worship song, or certain ways of expressing oneself in worship. To truly have a worship that includes multiple generations I believe the focus has to extend beyond music and music styles to the substance of our worship. A criticism of Music styles is an endless debate. I have heard of Younger individuals claiming that a hymn they heard was dry and unemotional, while an older individual criticsied a song for purely being emotional with no substance. These types of debate remind me of a quote by Bill Gebhart, ” You must Bring Worship in order to Worship.” Isn’t the most important thing for God to be glorified through our worship? I realize that many want to have an experience with God, but what about those like the Psalmist in Psalm 42. The Psalmist is definitely emotional, and is “panting for God as a Deer for streams of water.” Nothing in the circumstance or experience of the Psalmist at that moment signifies anything about God being there. In fact, just the opposite might be assumed. The Psalmist, However, remembers God’s presence in former days, and thinks of his power and majesty. It is in this that he finds strength to hope in renewed days. We would certainly say that the Psalmist has worshipped from this passage, and that God is glorified as a result. The Psalmist ends this passage renewed because of God’s glory, not just some emotional response. The passage we mentioned in class in Habakkuk 3 is similar. Habakkuk realizes that judgement is coming, and that there is really nothing he can do, so he praises God, and then tells him even if everything falls apart, and all is lost, he will hope in the God of his salvation. Again, we would certainly say that worship has occurred, and Habakkuk is affected positively by it. So are we maybe emphasizing the “emotional response” through style of music too much? As a youth minister I have had several conversations with Students who lament that our worship at church can’t be like at “Camp.” They are never talking about the theological content of the songs, or the preachers faithfulness to bring the Word. They are always talking about the Style of music, or the lights, or the smoke. ON the other hand I have talked to adults that lament that the music is too “loud” when the organ actually is louder than the praise music. Is this really the heart of the argument, and as a result is God not glorified because we are emphasizing something that is actually secondary in our worship of Him? We can manufacture an emotional response very easily. It is done in movies all of the time. Shouldn’t our Worship be steeped more in Truth, than in emotions? And shouldn’t a secondary issue not consume so much of our time? We don’t emphasize that multigenerational worship can be old and young serving the poor together, in obedience to God, and this be an act of worship. We usually don’t think of several generations leaving on a mission trip together, and that this is an act of worship. Don’t we limit ourselves to think that worship is an hour or two on Sunday mornings, and isn’t constantly happening. Is the debate a result of our short- sightedness in discipling our older and younger adults beyond an immature view of worship?
    Certainly the debate will rage on, and there will be difficulty determining what style, and what songs, but my thought is that we can emphasize more what brings us together, than what separates us.

    Reply

    • Posted by Chris DeGeorge on August 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      http://www.immersejournal.com/immerseblog/a-match-made-in-heaven-teens-and-older-adults/
      Just found this article, thought it was appropriate to the multi-generational conversation. Not Worship specific, but interesting nonetheless.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on August 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Great post man! I really enjoyed what you had to say. You had a couple things that really jumped off the page at me. First when you said, “A criticism of Music styles is an endless debate.” This is so true. It is a never ending spiral that no matter how genuine the efforts, will never really be resolved, because people will always have different musical styles. Also, i loved what you said about multigenerational mission work. That is truly something we don’t think about very often. I am glad that you brought this point up!

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:19 am

        I can’t remember where it was said or read. It could have been in class but there was mention made that older generations enjoy a more harmony focussed style of music, and younger generations enjoy a rhythm based version. I’m sure there will be something after the rhythm based version. One way to find unity is through education. We must inform people of their biases, which may not be bad so long as a “morality” is not tied to them.

      • Posted by Chris DeGeorge on September 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

        Thanks,
        We definitely have to get away from that. I wish that we could find a bulletproof way to ensure harmony between generations, and I think it is humility. We have to be humble about even our worship style.

  11. Posted by Kyle Naylor on August 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This discussion of “multigenerational worship” has truly opened my eyes to some key issues that the modern church is facing. As I look at Dr. Sharp’s “worship profiles” chart, I notice some pretty distinct contrasts. For example, a builder’s style is described as formal and reverent while a bridger’s style is chararcterized as multi -sensory and neo-traditionalists. Just focusing on the various styles alone, my immediate reaction is that it is near hopeless to connect with all five categories on any given Sunday. However, I think the word “hopeless” could be changed to “challenging.” It is possible, but challenging never the less. Many great points have been made. I plan on commenting on a few of these points at a later date, but for now I want to introduce a new thought. This came as a result of finishing up Wiersbe’s “Real Worship” book.

    In chapter seventeen, Wiersbe elaborated on the importance of using wisdom to plan a balanced worship service. He talked about the imbalance that exists in some settings. Then on page 178 he made the following statement. “What some people think is merely a generational problem- the young verses the old- is actually a theological problem, and it won’t be solved until both generations humbly listen to the Lord and learn from one another.” He goes on to say that “it seems to me that the younger generation leans toward the immanence of God, a God who is more a present Friend than an exalted Sovereign, while my generation (Wiersbe) is more accustomed to a transcedent God who is worthy of our worship and praise.” I’m on board with portions of Wiesbe’s point, but there are few areas of this argument that I do not completely follow. However, the overall content of the chapter was extremely valuable.

    My question is this? To what extent, if any, do THEOLOGICAL ISSUES play in this discussoin of multigenerational differences? Often times the lyrics of contemporary music are subtly attacked or some sermons are referred to as being “watered down” just to be relevant. It makes one think. I personally think that Wiersbe was a little hard on his younger generation’s theology. It may be a factor worth examining, but I think the various components listed in the chart are the heart of the matter for us today.

    Reply

    • Wiersbe’s comments are dated. We must consider when the book was written. In 2011 as the babyboomers are the older generation, we must recognize that they will fall into the “guilty of focusing too much on immanence” category. Perhaps that was who Wiersbe was referring to when he pointed to the younger generation. Of course this is a problem for other younger generations as well. However, I have noticed, and this observatoin is purely anecdotal, that many in my generation (busters) tend to think more like WWII generation.

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

        Not to throw Wiersbe under the bus or anyone who is older, but isn’t there a disconnect within generations anyway? This is in fact one of the aims of this blog is to connect two different generations that are passionate about their style of worship being the “correct view.” As we have learned in class and in our notes there is no correct view unless it violates the teaching of Scripture. So Wiersbe’s comments were dated, but perhaps they were dated even at the time of the book’s printing? It seemed he already chose to dismiss the younger generation with no understanding.

  12. Posted by Brad Gaunt on August 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Multigenerational worship is a must. Now, coming from someone in the younger generation, it is easy to say that every service should be more contemporary, but this would not be multigenerational. Both the older and younger generations have to stay conscious of this. The older generation should not cling to tradition tighter than to the movement of the gospel. Likewise, the younger generation should not do away completely with the wisdom and tradition of the older generation. Hymns and traditional songs may be slower, but they are filled with rich theology. Multigenerational worship also deals with the issue of unity in the church. Believers are to bear with one another even when it is not the most comfortable. Also, Paul speaks to putting the interests of others above our own. This is not to say that everyone should give up their worship style, but we should be sensitive to those of others. I may not enjoy the more traditional songs as much as more contemporary music, but I do love the older generation in my church and want to see them worship unhindered by the music. The same is true of the older generation. They may not like my music, but they love me and want to see me worship and draw closer to Christ. I think striving for unity in the church solves (or at least eases) many of the problems with worship.

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric Phillips on August 11, 2011 at 2:18 am

      Brad,

      I think man you are right on in us striving for unity. The gospel is what brings unity so if we focus on the glory of God and the gospel as a body of believers, we can trust that God’s Word and Spirit will bring unity over time. Philippians 2 provides a good framework for us as believers of considering the needs of each other as greater than our own and having the attitude of Christ. This would definitely have to include corporate worship!

      Reply

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm

        Eric, so true. The Gospel brings unity. I once heard a pastor say, “The last time I checked, if you have the same father, that means your brothers and sisters.” We, as Christians, have the same father because of the Gospel. It should be something that brings us together caring for one another as brothers and sisters would care for each other.

      • Posted by Eric Phillips on September 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm

        Good quote man. Thanks for sharing. Our identity in Christ must super cede everything else. It is just so hard because we are all so selfish and so easily get set in our ways!

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:21 am

        Brad, I don’t disagree with you but after serving in a church right now where I have tried to unify people on the Gospel and Scripture alone what do you do when people still don’t get it? There are many people in my church will say “AMEN BROTHER THAT’S WHAT I”M TALKING ABOUT!” But then they don’t follow up or are a part of the problem itself. How does one help people “get” what they still don’t know they need to “get?”

    • Posted by Marshall henderson on August 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      Brad,
      You are right. Learning to put others’ interests above our own is essential. This is a demand in light of the gospel. For leaders and churches, perhaps we need to start with the premise that out of our love and commitment to one another, we will LEARN from each other and be enriched by each other. But we have to commit to LEARN and appreciate on another. So from the preacher that constructs his sermon to the teen-ager or senior citizen sitting in worship, we have to commit to get outside of ourselves and have our worship enriched by the generations that comprise the community of faith.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jacquelyn Odom on September 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm

      Wow, I was so encouraged by your post, Brad. The focus on unity and on thinking of others more than ourselves is a great reminder about how we should treat fellow believers when thinking about our own preferences in worship styles. I love how you said as believers, we should want our fellow Christians (of different generations) to have unhindered worship. We should truly care about each other and the ways that we best express our worship. Our cares for others should outweigh our preferences or opinions. I think the church could benefit greatly from being reminded of the importance of unity and selflessness.

      Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      Brad, I think you have made an excellent point of unity. I think people must compromise on the issue of style. Each one must look at others above themselves.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 11, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Multigenerational worship should simply be a reflection of each church’s intentional valuing of every age group..This means I think the church should consist of people from all age groups. This does not mean that every service will be equally appealing to each age group. While this might be the ideal, it would take a great deal of work and many churches just do not have the man/wo-man power to think through every element of every service that carefully and methodically. So- I propose intentional ways of drawing in each age group throughout the year. Some examples of how many churches do this already include letting the children sing VBS or choir songs during the year, letting a youth band lead worship occasionally or at least participate in the normal worship set. Other times churches can do a special of Amazing Grace, which I’ve never heard anyone complain about. The same will be true in approaching the sermon. Sometimes the service should include a short children’s sermon. Preachers should incorporate application for the various groups in their church. I want to reiterate, from my perspective none of this is about appealing but rather about loving every member. While I am concerned about guests/unbelievers and want to be intentional about addressing them and clarifying the gospel for them, I am not planning the worship service for them. The service is intended for God’s people to worship and be equipped.

    Just one more comment-Recently during worship we showed a rather up beat, rap type video which presented the gospel in a clever way. While we expected the college and high school students to love it, we were totally surprised when multiple senior adults expressed how much they liked it and even asked where to find it! It was the rich content of the gospel that struck them. I must say, I am thankful for our senior adults!

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric Phillips on August 11, 2011 at 2:14 am

      Kevin,

      I totally agree with you on the corporate worship being focused on the believers worshipping and growing together. Can unbelievers, dead in sin, really worship God? Even though we do what to present the gospel clearly, reverently, passionately, and relevantly to all, the corporate worship is a great time to disciple God’s people. Also, recently, we shared a couple of Christian songs from “LeCrae” during worship and it went over really well with different ages of people. We even offered one of his CD’s at our resource table and they were all gone the first Sunday they were put out!!

      Reply

    • I agree, I like how you express how every church looks different. and its not because just because the culture the church and members in the church has different strengths and talents for the Lord witch should help drive the worship. VBS or youth band they each can be great worship tools.

      and i enjoyed your story of the older population liking the rap music, I have seen the same thing happen myself at my church during my undergrad.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Eric Phillips on August 11, 2011 at 2:08 am

    At first look, multigenerational worship seems like an impossible task. The worship profile chart by Michael Sharp is helpful but also overwhelming. To fulfill all the requirements/likes for each generation would take much creativity by pastors and worship leaders. The good news is the gospel is beautiful and powerful. A good dose of the glory of God and the gospel each and every Sunday would and does bring about the maturity in Christ needed for multi-generational worship to work. Sometimes we forget that we need the “cross” just as much today as the moment we first believed. The message of the cross whether sung in a hymn, contemporary song, or preached in a sermon (whether narrative or epistle format) will do what only the gospel of Jesus Christ can do – change people’s hearts. Maybe, just maybe, if we spent as much time prayer and asking God to change people’s hearts as we do focusing on trying to reach every single style we would see God reach the people in our community that He chooses to bring into the lives of our churches. God gets the glory and not man’s creativity.
    With that being said, I believe multi-generational worship is biblical so that is enough for me to make it a priority. The theme flows throughout the scriptures from Abraham being the leader of his family, to Deuterononmy 6 of grandparents, parents, and kids engaging one another with the gospel, to the book of Proverbs, to the Jews and Gentiles being brought together through the power of the gospel in the New Testament, to most likely most of the early New Testament churche being a mix of different age groups. The key foundational truths in all of this is the glory of God and the beauty of the gospel. Do we become too man-centered in our thinking when it comes to worship? What would it look like for us to live in authentic community and authentic relationship with people of all ages and backgrounds (depending on our community make-up). Jesus says in John 17:23 “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” The world is drawn to Christ as we live out the gospel in authentic community. Part of that is us as Christians dying to self. Worship is obviously a lifestyle as well as corporately coming together. The key is Philippians 2 of having the attitude of Christ in both. Granted this is a growing process but worth the time and effort in our local churches to always be moving in this direction.
    Finally, one may say I am a purist (which is probably true) but we have seen this work in our church plant since 2007. God continues to draw and save people in our community even though our corporate worship on Sunday mornings is vey simple. Right now, we sing hymns and contemporary songs (without worship leaders) to itunes and iworship on a screen. Let me say we strive to get better at our corporate worship (as God leads) but we also understand God is working and we never want to lose the simplicity of crying out together for Him to change people’s hearts. We have seen people of different changes and different cultures come and the common things we hear is that the Word of God and authentic relationships are what draws them. I know this was a different take than what others have shared but I think pretty simply and I think on this one we make it a lot harder than it needs to be!!

    Reply

    • Posted by Joel Williams on August 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      I agree with what you said about multigenerational worship becoming a reality as people grow in the “maturity in Christ needed for multi-generational worship to work.” Well put, and I see this all of the time… For example, one of our oldest and most faithful members is a lady who loves the old hymns, loves old gospel, bluegrass gosple, etc., but she also always comments and obviously worships when our youth sing a contemporary song on Sunday mornings. I brought her to a worship service at a youth camp this summer, which was very different from our worship services in that it was entirely contemporary. Afterwards she went on-and-on about what a wonderful time of worship it was and how much she enjoyed seeing all of the young people singing and worshiping the Lord. To me, that’s the heart of a person who’s died to self to live for Christ, and with that, a person whose worship is Christ-focused rather than self-focused and because of that is also interested in truly worshiping with and seeing others worship as part of their corporate worship experience.

      Reply

      • Posted by Amy Dryer on August 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm

        Thank you for that testimony of that lady in your church. I really think if the church today wasn’t so immature and self-centered (speaking about every generation), we’d see more of that, where style just didn’t matter all that much because the focus was on worshiping God. We’d see young people appreciating the beauty of the hymns and older people understanding the value of new material. We’d see a desire to include children in worship as we strive to train them in the way of the Lord. We’d see people worshipping, and not really caring how it came about as long as worship is happening. Style just stops mattering all that much.

    • Posted by Kyle Naylor on August 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      Eric, I appreciate your post. I agree with your statement that “the goods news is that the gospel is beautiful and powerful.” Planning and organizing are necessary, but our plans cannot take priority over our reliance upon God’s power.
      Also, a key word that Christi (and I think Brad) used was “intentional.” I think that in order for multigenerational worship to be effective, the leaders have to be intentional and patient.

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:26 am

        Kyle, thanks for the reminder of spontaneity! All generations can find value from the interuption of the Holy Spirit. He can show up in the planning process and a planned worship, but we must also remember that the best laid plans must be laid aside. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. Posted by Joel Williams on August 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    For me, the multi-generational worship chart provided some good generalizations to think about concerning the various generational groups; however, it is — as everything that attempts to generalize large groups of people — somewhat limited its practical use. Like many have suggested already, it’s a bit overwhelming to try to think about planning a service where every or even most of the elements of the service try to connect with the various, generalized communication and expression modes of the various generational groups that are represented in the congregation. While I believe that this is important to do, I think if becomes the focus or is over-emphasized, it misses what worship should be for the body of Christ. In thinking about this, Jesus’ high priestly prayer comes to mind in John 17…

    20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

    In these four verses, Jesus emphasizes our “oneness” in Christ as believers three times, and a primary result of that “oneness” Jesus tells us relates to our witness of Jesus to the world around us. While this applies to every aspect of our lives, I think it applies directly to our worship as well. To the world that comes in and observes our worship on Sunday morning, I think the question in approaching multi-generational worship is to what extent are we witnessing to our “oneness.”

    I was a member at a church years ago that went through a worship war. I played the guitar (the first instrument added), and got hate letters for it… The worship become a point of division, where it was obvious that one Sunday we would include some more contemporary elements of worship and on another Sunday it would be strictly traditional. This was a terrible approach for that church, and it led to the two sides becoming more separated and the worship becoming disjointed. It was sort of like the sides were taking turns saying, “Okay, it’s time for me to worship, and you’ll get your turn next week.” When it’s pushed in this way, I think it’s hard for the side(s) being changed not to get the impression that the other side devalues their worship.

    On the other hand, the church where I am now pastor does a good job of worshiping together with various styles of music. We are very traditional (piano and organ for the most part), but when we do contemporary music, bringing in the guitar, bass, etc., it is always very well received. Since I came to this church, it is a group that truly seems to enjoy worshiping together and has older members who seem to truly enjoy seeing the younger members engage in worship — even if that means music that they don’t necessarily prefer. Now, that said, we haven’t made it an issue or tried to change or value a style of worship over another. But I think there is a “oneness” to the worship that honors Christ.

    Another post mentioned maturity in Christ as a key, and I would agree. I think that a congregations maturity in Christ — their level of abandoning self for Christ…being one in the Father and Son — is at the heart of their willingness and openness to multi-generational worship. Multi-generational worship probably can and should look different in different situations, but what should look the same, is the “oneness” in Christ within that congregation as they worship. I don’t know how this is done, but I know it’s not done by focusing on the music or style of the service. And I do believe that a big part of God doing this work in a congregation is related to the faithful preaching of His Word and a true love among His people.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Daniel Howard on August 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Multigenerational worship is something that is good for the church. However, to often churches try to force the contemporary music on the older generation at to fast of a pace or they simply are afraid to embrace multigenerational worship because of what it might do to the church. I think that the thing that needs to be focused on with multigenerational worship is love, patience, and grace.

    It is the Pastor and worship Pastors jobs to bring the church to a point where they can agree on what a worship service should look like for their church. The Pastors must pursue the older generation with love. They must constantly tell them that they are loved and that they are not leaving the traditional hymns behind. Pastors must cater to the older generation with love and keep them informed with what is going on.

    It is also the Pastors job to stress patience to the younger generation. What seems to be the case for my generation is that when we something “cool” we want it now. The Pastor must keep reminding the younger generation that it is going to take time and that they should remain patient and prayerful during the time of transition.

    Lastly it is the Pastors job to help both sides understand that they need to love each other and show each other grace. The older generation might not always like what the younger generation is doing in worship but as long as it is glorifying God then they should show grace and go along with it. Also the younger generation must remember to show the same grace to the older generation by not completely stripping the worship service of everything that the older generation holds dear.

    Multigenerational worship for me is finding that place where God builds the bridge from old to new and two generations come together and experience true community driven worship for our Savior Jesus Christ. It is about giving a little up of what you have held onto for years and giving up maybe what other churches call “cool” all for the sake of bringing Glory to our Father, because that is what it is about.

    Reply

    • Posted by Derek Mitchell on August 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm

      Daniel

      I couldn’t agree more that multi-generational worship is great for the church. And, by your comments, I share the same conviction that we need to look past the how multiple generations are not engaged in musical worship a consider greater need to be addressed. A few thoughts … So, where do we start? We fix our eyes and seek the face of the author of our worship – God – that should start with the leadership. Multi-generational churches struggling with involvement and engagement need to take their congregation deeper by learning and responding to the personal convictions of the believers in how we can collectively participate in worship activities that are biblically founded and bring Christ ultimate glory through each individual life expressed in the church witnessing to a lost world. I believe as the passions of individuals are deeply rooted in their commitment to follow Christ above all else, then musical worship become part of an overall strategy to bring God glory rather than a highlighted focal point of division and disagreement. Promote peace, unity and community within the multi-generational church whereby the believers are more concerned about the needs of others (the local lost community and global out reach of the good news for the sake of Christ) than themselves too much.

      I absolutely agree that the leaders need to take action, personally and corporately. They need to listen to the believers in their congregation, build some common ground, put away their own agenda, be flexible, and yield to the potential work the Spirit may be leading.

      Here’s an example of what this may look like for a particular Sunday Service (not to exact detail):
      Recently, I’ve been subject to the positive influence of how a specific church has yielded to the spiritual convictions of the leadership and became more purposeful in changing up the Sunday worship experience on a quarterly basis. Their intentions were to be more biblical and scripturally back up almost every aspect of the service, while promoting a focus off the service, but on Christ. In doing this, they indirectly created a level of common ground in Christ by breaking the paradigm of a routinely anticipated worship service. The church members started to lose expectations about the service, but rather expected to meet God solely. The believers in the congregation’s desire of a specific style for Sunday morning worship began to fade, and the members came together by embracing and appreciating several styles of worship, and most enjoying the change! In this case, all generations in the congregation get to taste and see how the Lord is good in all honest efforts to worship our great God.

      Reply

  17. Posted by ernie bonnoitt on August 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Multigenerational worship is just a funny term to me. Cause what it really seems like their is a shorter word for called church. Isn’t this what we try to achieve every Sunday morning? To have the body of Christ worship as one in their local places of gathering.
    I have to confess I am not a music guy, I enjoy good music, but I have not talent in playing or any idea what it takes to even lead worship. So, even after the class when I hear these things like blended worship, contemporary, or multigenerational I find them interesting and I believe their is merit to discussing the strengths and weakness of them and being strategic on which to use and how. However I can’t help but just think all this has to do with preference. So to me it seems that our worship is about us and not about God and that is more than just a little annoying.

    In my humble opinion I think it shouldn’t matter what instruments or song selection (as long as it is theologically sound) we choose. Rather our worship should be an offering to God. after all that is who we are worshiping not a slow powerful build to the choirs that everyone loves to raise their hands. So why not have the music guy that we have put in change of it lead worship through his strength musically in his band etc. I know this is a little too over simplified but come on multigenerational as if this is a new thing!

    I just think the root of our worship wars is the heart of man making worship about themselves. When someone says to me I can’t worship when that guys sings like that I just think it God not worthy of your best even when it is not convenient for you to worship. Is it really worship when we can only “worship” during certain songs only when they are played a certain way? It seems kind of vain to me. Why are we seeking to feed into these people vanity that can only worship to a certain style or set of songs by catering to their request? Why not educate them on why they should worship and how. Not just another catchy tune or an old hymn that they have to hear.

    Reply

    • Posted by Amy Dryer on August 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you say. We need to get out of this “all about me” mentality and get back to focusing on the God we are worshipping. However, I do think there are issues today that the historical church never had to deal with, making this idea of “multigenerational” a new thing. For whatever reason, the last few generations have separated themselves from the ones before in dramatic ways, including by creating their own artisitc movements that the previous generation did not accept. Before, it seems like generations were closer together in preference, art, and even simple interaction. Now, the church has to learn all over again what came naturally before the 20th century: how to mingle together from generation to generation and be a family again.

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 1:29 am

        We can be too focussed and this applies to any worship style including multigenerational worship. Case in point take a look at this youtube video, which parodies our me centric attitudes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9dvVp0Nxjo We must move beyond ourselves and look to Christ’s otherness, which is a great point to start!

    • The basis of the worship wars is not simply personal preference. Worship leaders who are attempting to shift music style to reflect their culture do so for several reasons. Personal preference is one reason. Cultural relevance is another reason. We cannot ignore the fact that the church is losing the battle for younger generations. If style truly does not matter, then why not choose a style that is more likely to connect with the group we are not reaching than with the group that is already connected? Also, I would add that worship is not merely an offering to God. Worship has the joint purpose of giving glory to God while providing an avenue for people to connect with God. Worship has an element where it is beneficial for people. So, the style of music does matter in the sense that some people feel more connected to God when they sing to Him in a style that better connects with them and better represents who they are.

      Reply

    • Posted by Rich Beatty on September 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      I had the opportunity to go to an Episcople worship service the other day wherein there was no music at all!! Amazingly they were still able to have their entire worship hour focused on Jesus!! It was quite interesting and worshipful…

      Reply

    • Posted by Chris DeGeorge on September 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      I agree that we focus too much on this idea of preference. We have to have the humility to beable to worship and engage even when the music isn;t our particualr preference. When we come expecting our needs and preferences to be met, we turn into everyhting that’s wrong in worship. SOmething that is just about us, and not about God.

      Reply

  18. Posted by Amy Dryer on August 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    When I think of how different each generation is that is representated today, I wonder about history and why all of a sudden each generation needs something different. Has it been like throughout history, where grandparents, parents and children have all wanted something different? Why is that so important now? Maybe, as it seems like others have said, we’ve just gotten more and more selfish because we have had an explosion of choices over the last few generations. Maybe the answer is a change of heart, where we forget about what we want and just worship. I just can’t believe that the church today has gotten to the point where this is such a divisive thing.

    So far, this has not offered any solutions, I know. I really think that this idea of appeasing all generations by giving each a little of what they want is wrong. I think it begins in each heart that has come to worship. If every person in the building was a maturing Christian seeking hard after God, someone could stand up in front and play any God-honoring song in any style with any instrument and there would be worship. Things like style just wouldn’t be a big deal. Preferences wouldn’t go away completely, they just would fade to the background. Then, the worship leader could choose a variety of songs, styles, instruments, and other art and we could just worship. I guess what I’m saying is that we really need some discpleship and maturation in today’s church so that each member of the body would desire to serve each other and honor each other’s preferences rather than fight for what I want.

    Reply

  19. Mulit-generational worship sounds good as a theory. We should seek to be unified as a body despite the natural differences resulting from generational tendencies. We should be able to put aside matters of taste and desires to have our own ways. However, to put these ideals into practical settings will prove to be nearly impossible. The problem with this theory is people. Church people are imperfect and rarely selfless. If a church has any hope for success in implementing a multi-generational worship model, it will have to begin with a reorientation of the people to an excellent understanding of the nature of worship and of church. The people will have to see, accept, and own the vision for the model well before leaders attempt to initiate it. At the core of the discussion is understanding that style must be subjected to truth and structure. Webber does a good job of relating the hierarchy of truth, structure, and style. I think the best case scenario for most churches who desire to reach younger generations while not alienating older generations is to use multi-generational worship services on an occasional basis that is celebration-oriented.

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Clint, I agree with your method that the church must be taught why multigenerational worship is important. If we try to just implement things without teaching the people why, they will most of the time become very defensive. Some look at it as if your are trying to take something away from their particular generation or tradition. I believe that the people must be taught that worship never starts or is never to be focused on them. Our people must understand that worship is about God and our response to Him.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      I too think you bring up a good point. We must be able to tell people why things like multigenerational worship are important. It is so easy for us to just assume, but we must be able to articulate these things.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Clint, I agree that people are imperfect and often times seek their own preferences (in music style) over Glorifying God. One point I would make is that it is not only the church members who need to check their motives. Often times church leaders need to check their motives as well. I have seen church leaders keep to one style of worship and forget that we are there to Glorify God. This not only applies to worship style but ministry in general. I am 26 and work with a team that is 50+. Sometimes we have to check our own preferences at the door and ask, “What does God desire?”

      Reply

  20. Posted by Derek Mitchell on August 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    We live in a culture that needs to see the church family united with representation by all generations. Multi-generational worship is biblical and a powerful witness of Christ. Believers in a multi-generational setting have such an incredible testimony to all those facing eternal punishment about hope in unity among all ages of God’s people that testifies of God’s goodness and PEACE. In these days, people need to see peace among generations. Our twisted and perverse American Culture (board sense) is composed of people of all ages who need to witness multiple generations existing together, but without division or selfishness over religion and tradition. Multi-generational worship has the capability to reach out to a wider realm of unbelievers that need to know about reconciliation to God. We need the family of God to come together from all ages and praise our God. Period. One of the best heavenly pictures on earth is when people of many nations, races, tongues, and ages express worship to God unified as one church family. Our American culture desperately needs to experience true family, the family of God existing most effectively through multi-generational worship, that abides in truth, loves exponentially and serves radically speaking agains counter culture, but in favor of the glory of Christ, whereby no one is excluded or deterred from the good news of Christ.

    (Titus 2:1-8), “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Like wise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respect to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” We bring God great glory as a faith family exists scripturally by representing multiple generations.

    There are more pros than cons to multi-generational congregations. In light of Psalm 78:1-8, and references from Titus, 1& 2 Timothy mainly, I’ve summed up a few thoughts on the value of multigenerational worship within a faith family:

    Older generations testify of God’s character through the years. (i.e. God’s faithfulness A wealth of knowledge and life experiences to help guide, encourage and offer wise counsel to future generations.) Older generations promote growth by guiding faith families to avoid costly decisions
    Order and decisions. And, older generations pour their lives into their biological and spiritual children of younger generations for the sake of preserving God’s great name/reputation and making disciples of the next generation to follow Christ.

    As the older generations support and equip younger generations in Christ, they receive new insights, refreshment, and encouragement. In the same way, there is much to learn as younger generations look to the elders for guidance and examples to follow within a church family.

    Younger generations relate to the changes in culture and bring value to evangelism in how to reach out to others that may have previously been difficult for older generations. Younger generations reproduce the teachings of truth from faith family of elders and bring new energy to a faith family. Younger generations tend to react righteously against former traditions and quarrelling of churches within a multi-generational context that can result in the needed sanctification of God’s church by His Spirit for the church to be more like Christ.

    Reply

  21. Posted by Kennith Matthews on August 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Multigenerational worship, in theory, would be ideal for any congregation with multiple generations (which I think would be a majority of church congregations). It would also be a necessity to bring unity among the body of believers in worship. However, we have all learned that many things are ideal in theory but extremely challenging to practically implement. Multigenrational worship seems to be ideal in theory but challenging to practically implement. After looking over the Multi-Generational Worship Profiles it seems to confirm the difficulty of pleasing multiple generations in the areas of space, style, structure, song, and sermon. How does a church go about meeting the needs in all of these areas for each generation? The task seems near impossible.

    If everyone were able to have an understanding that each group would need to make sacrifices in order have a more cohesive worship, then multigenerational worship seems more plausible. The challenge is that worship styles are something that people hold dear and can become volitile subjects when change is suggested. Not only do church members come from different generations but many times even the ministerial staff come from multiple generations and have different views on worship. What if a senior pastor and a music pastor have different views on worship?

    The difficulty of practically implementing multigenerational worship does not negate its importance however. It is undeniable that reaching all of the generations in a congregation and providing a worship atmosphere that allows all to worship together is extremely important. But how do you do that? I have no answers for this question. Perhaps Amy Dryer, in her post above, is correct. Perhaps we need to grow genuine Christians who would be less self centered in worship and more God centered. Christians who simply worship God, regardless of the circumstances, because HE IS WORTHY.

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Kennith, I agree with your assessment that multi generational worship is great in theory but hard to practice. I think you make an important point of how both the laypeople and the leaders have their own ideas of worship. I also agree with Amy and you that the only way to do it is to teach the people what real worship is about. Real worship is about God and not about the worship of what we “like” or what we have always done.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on August 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      I enjoyed your post. I think you brought up some interesting questions and you certainly made me think. Though it seems simple enough on the surface i certainly agree with you that multigenerational worship is anything but easy.I think you made a great point when you said, “If everyone were able to have an understanding that each group would need to make sacrifices in order have a more cohesive worship, then multigenerational worship seems more plausible.” We must, as staff, pray and seek the Lord on this matter. We must try to equip our people to become selfless for Christ sake. Of course it starts with us being willing to humble ourselves and what we like for our brothers and sisters. Great post.

      Reply

  22. I’m glad this is the beginning discussion for our class. Our church does multi-generational worship, and I believe we do it well. This is not to say that everyone in the congregation likes every single song that is led on any given Sunday. What it does mean, is that I have an opportunity to lead and instruct the students of our church (which love the contemporary songs) about the history and richness of the texted songs that the older generation loves. Now, on the other hand, the pastor and other leaders must accept the responsibility to teach and instruct the older generation. Our pastor has done a good job at instructing that generation. I feel that one of the neat things that has happened in our church has been seeing the worship pastor grow as a result of trying this different style of worship. There’s no one in our area who is attempting to mix and mingle with the two or three different genres of music to lead the congregation in worship. I can understand the sentiments of many people who have discussed that this type of worship is almost impossible. Yes, it is. It is impossible without true leaders in the church who will take a stand for the calling and vision for the people of God. Let’s not be scared to implement something different for the sake of our job or so we don’t lose our job and can’t make our car note, or so we don’t lose our job and can’t afford the nice house we have. Trust the Lord and lean not on your own understanding…

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      It is encouraging to read of a church that is making strides in doing multi generational worship. I believe it is essential that all leaders are promoting and teaching the importance of this style of worship. I also believe that patience is importance in order for all groups to have time to learn and understand.

      Reply

  23. Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I think that multigenerational worship is important. I am not sure of an exact percentage but I would think that most of our churches consist of multi-generations at least to some extent. The church I pastor has multi-generations even though the “older” outweighs the “younger.” As pastor, I believe that I have the responsibility to lead our church to connect to all generations. I must continue to connect to the older and more stable of our congregation. I must also connect to those that are younger and lead them into becoming leaders in the church. Every age is important and any group that is overlooked will cause problems in the church. The older ones should be training and starting to “pass the baton” to the younger. The younger ones should be looking at ways they can serve and “stepping up” to do so. I will admit that this is not an easy task. I wil also admit that I don’t have it all figured out. However, I believe that it is a task that we must strive to achieve. I believe that God has given us the task to lead all generations in our context.

    Reply

  24. Posted by Marshall henderson on August 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    In Wiersbe’s book, Real Worship, he makes some comments about preaching that surely apply to this post. He expresses that it is absolutley necessary that the preacher ‘worship’ as he preaches. He emphasizes that formula’s and outlines are not nearly as important as preaching as an act of worship.
    Wiersbe’s statements mixed with this article are very helpful. The preacher has the responsibility to speak the language of the congregation. I have to admit, I’ve heard [good] sermons that completely did not engage me because of format, not substance. I have been guilty of preaching out of my preferences, and have found some congregations not engaged. The challenge is speaking the language of multiple generations. This means for the preacher, learning to communicate in a language outside of one’s sermon language of preference. For me -a young, left-brained preacher- it means preaching outside of my analytical tendency and generation. The preacher must wresting with how to construct/proclaim the message so that all who hear, hear and are engaged by the truth.
    But I believe this is accomplished not simpy with sweat and labor, but by a preacher who worships when he preaches. People of all generations are looking for passion, compassion, empathy, etc.. and AUTHENTICITY in a message.

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      Marshall, I was glad to see you address the specific subject of preaching in worship. Preaching is an important part of the worship service and it is important that it is multi generational as well. It is easy to focus primarily on our own preference of style and illustrations but we must connect with all generations.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on September 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      Very good post! I like the content of what you covered. It is so important for ministers to worship in the sermon. I also liked who you brought to light the difficulty of preaching to multiple generations. I think you said it best when you said,” The challenge is speaking the language of multiple generations.” Thanks.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Marshall, I am also glad you chose to write on this topic. Often times we forget the struggle that pastors have of preaching across generations. How do you preach to senior adults and teenagers? I believe this is where reliance on the Holy Spirit comes into play. I can think of many times where I was struggling duing sermon preparation of how to relate to the congregation, across generations, and the Holy Spirit gave me wonderful insight and direction.

      Reply

  25. Posted by Lindsay on August 17, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Even though I was a part of the Blended Worship group in class, I find myself still trying to wrap my head around multigenerational worship and all that it entails. I don’t think that multigenerational worship is anything new. The church has always been, ideally, composed of many generations worshiping together. What makes this round of changes so difficult is the fast-paced change in culture that is happening now thanks to technology. The younger generations aren’t just picking a music style and sticking to it for the next fifty years. They are changing slight preferences in music every few years. This must have a dizzying effect to those who have sung the same hymns for decades.

    Every time I think about multigenerational worship, I come back to the same question, though. What are we doing as a church to encourage true multigenerational worship outside of the corporate worship time? I don’t think that we can expect one generation to see eye-to-eye with another if the only time they get together is one hour on Sunday morning. Are we having senior citizens work along side the youth on ministry projects? Do we encourage multigenerational Bible study? It seems that a church that wants their people be in harmony in the area of worship on Sunday morning needs to do more to promote Christian fellowship and respect during the rest of the week.

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on August 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Lindsay, You made a very interesting point about younger and older generations. You noted that the music styles of the younger generation are ever changing and yet the older has primarily stayed with the same songs. As I think about that, I believe that at least to some extent that is true when it comes to music used in “worship.” I thought that you also made an important observation concerning bridging generations. I think you are right in that we should also focus on more than just the worship time in order to connect generations.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on August 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      I think you made several great observations about multigenerational worship. I had never thought about how quickly music taste change now compared to 50 years ago. This is a great point because it sheds some light on the issue of what style of music we should sing. In a world where music taste change with the seasons it is difficult to come to a definite answer as to which one is the best or which is right. I also was challenged by what you said about having a multigenerational church besides simply on Sunday morning. We definitely need to get creative with ways of engaging the age ranges in activities besides simply an hour on Sunday. great post!

      Reply

  26. As I looked at the worship profiles and read through this lively discussion, many memories and thoughts passed through my brain. I am thankful for the opportunities that I had to worship with my extended family at church. I am thankful for the spiritual heritage that has been an integral part of my life. I think many of these positive early experiences have reinforced my love of hymns and allows me to see many of the benefits of more traditional worship. As a college student, grew to love the exciting, energetic, and innovative worship services that were held at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on my campus. It was encouraging to be with so many of my peers worshiping together. We were all at the same stage of life, and there was strong sense of unity among this group.

    As a children’s minister, I am asked to address this issue on a fairly regular basis. Should worship be age focused? Should we emphasize multi-generational worship? What should it look like? As previously mentioned, all of these questions on us. They are more concerned with what is best for us, not focused on what God expects. The emphasis is on what happens to me during worship and what will I gain instead of what can I give.

    An article by Angie Ward titled “Let the Little Children Come” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2009/summer/letthelittlechildrencome.html?start=1) gives four example of churches that strive to specifically include children in their worship services. One of the churches has begun giving parents resources for preparing their children for worship. This question made me think. What do I expect on Sunday? Do I expect to hear my favorite songs and go through a specific routine or do I expect to see people singing praise to God no matter what the style of music is? Am I wanting to check off a required activity or an I expecting to encounter God?

    No matter what our age may be, if we focus on what can bring to God as we expect to meet with him, we will come to church differently. When the focus is shifted from what can I get to what can I offer, it is much easier to come together across generational lines.

    Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on August 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      I honestly enjoyed your post. It really made me stop and think about what i expect in worship. I thought it was great when you said, Am I wanting to check off a required activity or an I expecting to encounter God?” It is so easy for us, well at least me, to go to worship not expecting anything. It is said to be that way. We should certainly go expecting to encounter the Lord Himself! I thought you followed it up extremely well when you said we should focus on what we can offer rather than simply on what we can get. Selfishness creeps up everywhere, but we must so walk in the Spirit that we recognize these things and give them to the Lord. Very good post!

      Reply

  27. Posted by Steve Efferson on August 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The beginning of worship does not have to do with a particular style. If we worship God in Spirit and Truth then the criteria would be us connecting with God on a spiritual level in a way that is consistent with His character. There are different forms of worship in the Bible and one does not seem to stick out above the rest. Worship is not about where or how it is about Who. Who are we worshipping? God’s first desire in worship is obedience. In 1 Samuel 15 Saul misses the point of worship. Samuel tells him this, “To obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better that the fat of rams.” (HCSB) So let me put this in contemporary terms. To obey (Honor your father and mother which as written in Timothy includes older men and women; older people need to be an example to younger ones) is better than the best contemporary or traditional worship service you can plan. It is the responsibility of the older generation to teach the younger generation how to worship (not style) and how to follow God. Their responsibility is to lead by example from their wisdom. The younger generation has the responsibility to learn from those who are older and have experienced more life. Maybe one of the reasons that younger people are so closed minded when it comes to traditional music is because they learned how to be that way from the older generation. When new songs began coming out and younger people wanted to use them in worship the songs were met with great opposition. In those actions the older generation said that they were not open to a different point of view. Because of this some in the younger generation decided to go another way and reject tradition. We need to understand that God’s command was for us to be one body. We are a family. We are brothers and sisters. Within families there are different points of view and preferences. Families work through these things and compromise. We cannot lose the wisdom of our rich heritage. During youth worship last night we sang the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy in a contemporary way. It was wonderful and rich with theology. We also need to remember that God did not stop using musicians and song writers with the Gaither’s. Multigenerational worship in a perfect situation uses the best of the past and the best of the present to give glory to our savior. It may look different from church to church and culture to culture. You have to know your people and the people you are trying to reach. The goal is to bring people to the throne of almighty God.

    Reply

  28. Posted by Joseph Bird on August 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I would like to start by saying that i approach the area of worship and especially worship criticism and evaluation with fear and trembling. It would like to say up from that the following are simply thoughts which are likely laced with sin because I am human and prone to that condition!:)
    Multigenerational worship is more than a good idea or a novel approach to worship services. Rather, it seems that multigenerational worship is the only real context for worship.I know that seems strong, but think about it. We all believe that heaven is real and we all know that people of every nation (multiethnic) and people from every time period in history (multigenerational albeit different than we normally mean). As i think eschatologically about the issue of worship I am left with the feeling that heaven will transcend race and culture, because David the King of the Jews will be worshipping with John the American born in 1995. Their cultures have little if anything in common however we know that God transcends culture. This is why I believe all generations should worship together when we can. It honors God, or at least i assume it does because of my understanding of eschatology. UNITY is a theme throughout all Scripture and especially so in the NT. Why would God want us to fragment and break out from worshipping together?
    To me there are a couple big issues that need to be discussed. First much of our worship wars stem from selfishness. Our culture is one of self gratification at every level and because so often we, well at least I, feed selfishness that it is no surprise we bring our sinful tendencies to Gods house. You would think that as Christians the only worship war would be spiritual warfare. However, i am fearful that we often times are fighting on the wrong side unknowingly. Our hearts must first be set on God and what He wants. Secondly, we should set our hearts on how we can be a blessing to our siblings in Christ. While at the same time asking God to help us know how to reach the lost people who come into our churches week by week. ANd finally we need to worry about our personal taste etc. Only we will find that if we truly do the first two, we have little or no time for ourselves, which is altogether no a bad thing.
    A second important issue is for ministers. I often feel as though we cant lead people to worship, whether multigenerational or not, because we ourselves are not familiar with God’s presence. You see we should be in God’s presence worshiping HIm every single day and so on Sunday we should be comfortable to GOd before His throne and to take others with us. I really believe that if people could see real authentic worship on a week by week basis the sure splendor the glory of GOd may help them to put aside personal taste for the sake of being in His presence. As ministers we should be constantly about being with the Lord. When is the last time we stayed up all night praying for our people, when is the last time we fasted for them…. It seems to me that if we are going to be spiritual leaders it starts with us and our worship of Jesus Christ. Our start with me when i say that often times we can go through the motions, but this should not be. My prayer is that we all so worship the Lord that on Sundays what we do is the norm and not the exception.

    Reply

  29. Posted by Michael Weis on August 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    This is an interesting topic and one I’m a little late too… which is often the case. I think it is an important topic, but one that is new and still forming itself in some ways. While this has actually always been done – as there have always been multiple generations in chruches, we are only thinking of its impact and place now and how to do it better. This is a good thing but we must remember that we are not gearing things for people, but gearing them for the “audience of One” and that is God. He is the One who speaks to any and every heart through His word both sung and said. We can use various forms of music (to a point because music in itself leads to specific emotions as well) and skits, media, etc. and He can use this to reach anyone.

    I think the key to doing this well is a multiple placed format of music, arts with the preaching at the core and center. Our tendency as humans and as Christians is to substitute the preaching for something else in “hopes” of God blessing it, when we forget that it is through the foolishness of preaching HE has ordained to reach the lost world…

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:54 am

      Michael, You are correct that the proclaiming of the Word of God must be center. The text should drive the service. A pastor’s primary task is to teach the Word of God in order to equip the people. If we substitute the Word, then we leave out the most important ingredient

      Reply

  30. Posted by Matt Coker on August 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    What is the very heart beat of worship in churches today? The other day I had and older woman stop by my office as a “messenger” to say that some people had been complaining that we do not sing enough of the older songs. A few days before that I was corner by a group of young couples who insisted that I should be pushing for a more contemporary service… This whole time we have had a blended service and evidently neither side (at least to some extent) were very happy. by using the term multigenerational worship, I believe we are simply giving an old trick a new name. In say this, I do not believe the style of worship is the problem. I believe the problem lies in the heart of the worshiper. Dr. Woodward’s article stated, “To achieve a healthy multigenerational worship context, the members of the body must be committed to understanding and appreciating the interests of one another.” If the church could grasp the second part of the sentence previously stated, then not only would multi generation worship be more effective, but worship style in general would not be and issue at all. Not to mention many other parts of the church would be operating better and the church as a whole would be more effective.

    Reply

    • Posted by Steve Efferson on August 31, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Very true Matt. If the heart is not right, worship is selfish. Wouldn’t that mean that the person is worshiping themselves?

      Reply

    • Posted by Joseph Bird on September 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      I definitely understand where you are coming from. this idea of blended or multigenerational worship is so difficult! It is so hard to try to please peoples preferences in a society where preferences seem to change like the wind. Good post!

      Reply

      • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        Joseph, I can’t help but think that we have furthered that way of thinking. A way of thinking where the church tries to please everyone’s preferences. I think of the Burger King slogan, “Have it your way,” and wonder if the church hasn’t taken on the same slogan in regards to worship. I’m not saying we don’t try to reach multiple generations but teach that worship transends US and is about God.

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Matt, I totally agree with your post. Many times we just hear a one-sided argument concerning preferences. For instance, someone will be pushing a contemporary service and saying that people need to get over preferences referring to the traditional. However, the fact of the matter is they are just as concerned with their own preference. I agree that the major is that of the heart. I realize that we all have our preferences and that is fine until the preference becomes the god

      Reply

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Matt, I appreciate your post. Worship is about the condition of our heart and all too often becomes about our preferences. Why do you think many are more concerned about music style than whether a service is worshipful towards God? Is it our faults as ministers in some way? I can’t help but think that there might be some fault of our own in regard to this way of thinking. Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t boiled worship of God down to music styles ourselves whether traditional, blended, or contemporary.

      Reply

  31. It seems the heart of the issue is two-fold. 1) What is the most biblical expression of worship? Once this is decided all personal preference should be tempered by submission to the most biblical course of action. It would seem that music should naturally flow from who we are. Our personality and cultural influences (non-sinful) cannot be completely left out of the worship issue for they are a part of who we are. It’s easy to justify a more contemporary approach with this, which I heartily support. But what do you do about a 70 year old man that simply says drums, guitars, and Chris Tomlin do not reflect his culture or personality at all? At some point you do have to realize you can most likely not make everyone happy. And the overall cultural expression of worship is generally going to involve contemporary instruments. 2) Simply allowing personal preference to guide the worship w/o any since of biblical guidance and mission is irresponsible. Phil. 2:3-4 says it best, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:42 am

      Josh, You noted the example of the 70 yr old and the expression of worship involving contemporary instruments. I do agree that the majority of the upcoming generation prefers contemporay instruments. However, I also realize that many of churches are attended by a majority of senior adults. I think our difficult task is teaching all generations the true meaning of worship and trying to move both the younger and older ones from being primarily focused on preferences.

      Reply

      • I agree personal preference is not the best litmus test. We must put others needs first. In reality however it seems that less and less even of the older generation prefers an organ/piano with a hymn book. There are simply not a lot of growing churches doing things the same way they did 30 years ago… a few… but not alot. It seems more Senior Adults are enjoying new music more now than in the past. Though they still enjoy a choir and don’t want the music too loud. However the majority of the people in the church are most likely under the age of 60. So it is natural that music will continue to get younger.

  32. While I agree that multigeneration worship is something that should be looked at, I also think that it is something that will be difficult to achieve in the sense that all generations truly care what everyone is thinking. Is this simply wishful thinking? Or is this even possible?

    I think that in a perfect setting, every person in the church will just want to worship Jesus despite the “style” that the church uses. I think that despite the style we should all seek to worship Jesus “in Spirit and in truth” and as we do this it will not matter as much what generations make up the church.

    But then again, maybe that is just wishful thinking.

    Reply

    • Posted by Michael Jason Holland on September 20, 2011 at 1:33 am

      Adam, I agree that in a perfect setting that Christians should be seeking to just worship in spite of style. I believe that the maturity of the Christian affects this reality a great deal. However I also realize that our churches are far from the perfect setting and its hard to know how much to adjust to each generation. I do believe that we must try to reach them in a sense where they are and sometimes that means that worship styles will look different.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Adam, I appreciate your post. In a perfect setting, Glorifying God would be the only concern of the church despite the music styles. I don’t beleive, however, that this is wishful thinking. Why can’t we as ministers teach our congregation about worship? Why can’t we continually remind them that Sunday aren’t about “me” but about “Him”. I sometimes become discouraged and want to say, “They will never get it.” But that is not what we are called to do and I have to remind myself that I am still being molded too.

      Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 12:53 am

      Adam, it is wishful thinking but accurate thinking. This is the aim, but there usually is a break down in communication in terms of how this is carried out of course. Though it may be difficult to do and there will always be the question to ask, “how can this be accomplished from theory to reality?” it should be what we strive towards. May we never give up on this ideal. The more we try then the closer we get. We only fail when we quit. As Dr. McKeever said in class lets just “experiment” and not try to “change” anything!

      Reply

    • Focus should definitely be on worship in “spirit and truth.” The focus should be on moving people towards exalting Christ no matter the style. Worship has been debated for centuries I’m sure and will continue to be an issue that gets a lot of attention. This is because it is such a huge issue and one that people are passionate about.

      Reply

  33. Posted by Donnie Jones on September 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I agree with Micah, above. I believe that specifiying worship for certain age groups are ok in certain contexts. As he Micah mentioned, if some smaller communites, multigenerational would be ideal in that there is not ideal for multiple churches. However, in larger communities, multi-generational services makes sense.

    I straddle the fence though on this area. In one sense I believe we should be the church and should seek to worship together – All ages and in one sense, I think that it is ok to worship with like age groups or others who are like-minded in worship styles. I have seen such venues to work in really great ways…I believe this approach can cut back on disagreements within the worship spectrum even thoght there will be minimal anyway.

    Reply

    • Posted by Christopher Fuselier on September 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      Great thoughts! I too can see the struggle that all of us face in the worship setting. Our churches are filled with people who are from various places, different age groups, and wotship preferences. I believe that it is important that we strive to the best of our ability to provide one worship setting for all people.

      Reply

  34. I see your point Donnie, that in larger groups multi-gen makes since. My only concern is what about large groups that are defined by many generations, such as young fast growing churches.

    Reply

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