We gathered online recently for a GenOn Round Table on intergenerational worship leadership. We polled our participants on what best describes worship leadership at their church and the majority checked “church staff and a few key lay adults.” Next, we defined intergenerational ministry as that which nurtures Christ-centered community by bringing together two or more generations in planned and purposeful setting, where all are mutually invested.
The format for the rest of the time together was to hear a premise (something we at GenOn believe to be true or certainly very likely) and then whoosh to breakout rooms to discuss a related prompt in small groups. There were a total of three conversations and ideas were shared in the chat box after returning to the large group. We thought these ideas were too good to keep only for the gathered group, so here they are for you. Settle in with a cup of tea, it’s a long list!
Join us for our next GenOn Round Table (always free!) on September 23 1-2pm EDT to explore ways to use “God’s World in Community: Tell Your Story” to encourage intergenerational community through storytelling. Sign up here to receive the Zoom link.
Premise #1: Offering a variety of worship arts in congregational worship taps into multiple learning styles, engagement, and participation. We define “worship arts” as using various visual, speaking, drama, technology, dance, and music options to lead in worship.
Prompt: Share ideas for ways people do or could lead worship in your congregation. For example, a scripture reading could be done with a small group enacting a series of scenes using a frozen tableaux technique, called Freeze Frame. The group decides together how to enact each scene. Share some other ideas in your breakout room.
Intergenerational acting out of scripture while someone is reading
Allowing the children to light the Christ Candle and/or read the liturgy that goes along with the candle lighting
Streaming of worship volunteers
The role of teaching worship music to the gathered (specifically, search for "Music That Makes Community" as a method and resource). Can be led by a variety of ages.
Readers for scriptures, prayers, etc.
Creative moment sharing of object lesson, children's time
Textile art for altar area
Have under-represented age groups provide a living illustration as part of the sermon.
Using the Prayer of Confession as a time for children to come forward and participate with water being poured into the baptismal font by the children
Art for graphics and bulletins
Using all the senses to engage
Paperless music sources:
Premise #2: There are distinct advantages to intergenerational worship leadership including: Relationships are formed and nurtured across generations; a sense of belonging to the whole community is enhanced; young people are affirmed as church leaders.
Prompt: What could be the benefits to your church in implementing an intergenerational approach to worship leadership? How long of a list of benefits can you generate?
Lifts worship planning off our clergy and staff
Creates a congregational care system among those worshipping
Makes worship and learning more accessible across ages
Sense of belonging for everyone
Buy-in necessary, but that leads to greater investment
Older people miss the LOGOS time with younger children
Intergenerational taps into different generations and perspectives
Draw in different ages by role-playing different ages of Bible characters
An intergenerational leadership team models intergenerationality for the congregation
Target younger because each person gets older each year, so you must keep being intentional about engaging new, younger participants/leaders.
Be more representative in leadership so the congregation is more represented, which can lead to increased participation for the whole congregation.
Belonging, kids catch a vision that is sustainable throughout their lives, all are important, needed, seen.
Older members and younger members grow their relationships with one another
Richness and diversity
Cultural offerings that might be missed otherwise
Evangelism to new folks because people take ownership
Creates a welcoming environment, may eliminate the need for Sunday school
Strengthening lifelong faith
Fosters new leadership
A sense of belonging for all (can take more time and investment)
The atmosphere of the church is rooted in strong connections
The survival of the church
There is lots of buy-in from all ages
If leadership is intergenerational it is being modeled for other parts of the church
If we connect with people when they are young and keep them engaged (lifelong discipleship)
More variety and more representative worship
My church took my gifts as a child and teenager seriously enough to use them every week—and I’m still in church, working for the church!
Premise #3: Inviting a variety of voices and ages to lead in worship results in deeper engagement—for those leading and those worshipping in the pews.
Prompts: Look at the list of worship leadership ideas (from question #1) and brainstorm different ages that could participate in each activity together. Remember the Freeze Frame example where participants have input in creating each tableau? How can worship leadership preparation be modified so that all participants are mutually invested?
Engaging all ages as greeters
Have one worship a month be mission focused with acts of doing as part of the worship or the whole worship.
Make modifications but with thoughtful explanation as to why it is being done.
Encourage all ages to color on their bulletins or sketch by providing those resources for them in worship and then displaying those in your worship space
(If your church isn’t already intergenerational, with intentionally intergenerational leadership, worship is a hard place to start.)
Invite those in leadership to recruit one person as their mentee.
Music leadership can include all ages
Starting to include children in the planning for and prep for worship so it's by them not just for them.
Readers can be all ages (pre-record if that helps include multiple generations).
Some younger generations have stepped up in behind-the-scenes roles of running and guiding the technology in pandemic times.
Intentionally choose someone younger to join the leadership team since each person gets older each year!
We didn’t get to the exact prompt given, we had a great discussion about weekday offerings that reach different populations in our community and how these are very intergenerational. They meet people where they are with the needs they currently have - middle school very close to congregation.
With increased technology needs during COVID, this provides an opportunity to engage more, especially those who usually don’t get in front on the congregation.
We also discussed how the worship planning could be done by a group and not just one person or one pastor making all the decisions
Plan for a full quarter on a Saturday, with food!
I think a struggle for me is that what intergenerational ministry/worship is trying to do in generating space for multiple learning styles, while our public schools are not necessarily working toward the same goal. It makes it hard to have two different environment styles and feels dichotomous for some families who are used to order and structure and achievement. Plus, it feels challenging to find resources that teach us church leaders how to teach for all learning styles when it hasn’t been modeled for us growing up.
Wendy’s comment that “Worship might not be the best place to start being intergenerational.” I wonder where the best place would be.
In my opinion (Wendy): fellowship=building community is the place to start.
What could you add to the list?
Here’s GenOn’s Worship Arts resources page.
Join the conversation on the IG Mix: Intergenerational Ministry Ideas Facebook Group.
Check out the 6-step path for becoming intentionally intergenerational on our website HERE.
The path includes using our Intergenerational Ministry Snapshot, a free resource.
Other IG Mix Articles, September-October 2021