The Importance of Having an Intergenerational Choir

When I researched intergenerational choirs in Georgia Baptist Churches several years ago, I found that leaders of churches that are intergenerational usually have a philosophical reason to value them. Even those leaders that are historically intergenerational (but not always intentional about celebrating the diversity of ages in the church) still value that the generations are worshiping together in their church.

When asked why these leaders, who already serve intergenerational churches, value not only having an intergenerational church, but having a choir that is intergenerational, they responded with the following answers in rank order:

  • The choir reflects the age diversity already present in the congregation. Over 70% of those interviewed stated that they simply want the choir to be a reflection (generationally) of what is already present in the congregation.
  • The choir is the easiest/best way to involve multiple generations in the worship service. These leaders have realized that the music ministry is an excellent way to get all ages involved in serving in worship. What other ministry of the local church involves the youngest and the eldest members of the church (possibly even simultaneously) on a regular basis?
  • Older and Younger Members should learn from each otherThese leaders have identified what I call mutual submission or mutual learning. As I’ve mentioned before, there is something to be learned from young people. Likewise, the older members can pour into younger members the wealth of knowledge they’ve gained along the way. Each generation must learn to be submissive and respectful of all as the intergenerational church learns to co-exist and aim for unity (think Phil. 2)
  • It’s Biblical. What surprised me was that only about 20 percent of those leaders I interviewed even mentioned the biblical precedent for intergenerational worship. Of the 20 percent, the leaders overwhelmingly were older Millennials and leaders from Generation X. My research did not indicate WHY this was the case, but my thought is that our younger music leaders are being encouraged to consider the biblical precedent because they grew up in the “worship wars,” while the older leaders never were taught many years ago (and they didn’t have to) why they should be intergenerational. This stat tells me that we’ve got a lot of work to do to train all pastors to intentionally celebrate intergenerational philosophy in their churches.
  • Leader’s personal preference or experience. A few of those interviewed (actually most of these, not surprisingly, were from historically intergenerational churches) indicated that they felt the church should be like it always “was.” By this I mean, several decades ago there wasn’t the need to be discussing this topic and their churches are still operating in that same mode of “family” church.        

The church choir, and certainly instrumental groups, have the opportunity to pave the way for promoting intergenerational behavior throughout the rest of the church. The choir must work together to overcome music style differences, traditions, and preferences in order to lead in worship. In Romans 15:5-6, Paul writes, ” May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The church choir is definitely about making music, but more importantly, it’s a visual model to the rest of the congregation about setting aside our personal preferences, being of ONE mind and ONE voice, to proclaim the message of the gospel.

How Should New Testament Worshipers Worship?

I’m teaching Introduction to Congregational Song this semester at TMU. This week we focused on New Testament Congregational Song. I’m reminded again that as we come to the Father through Jesus the Son, we no longer have to depend on a high priest to offer animal sacrifices so we can find redemption for our sins. No longer must we follow arduous sets of rules and worship practices. We have instant access through the power of the resurrection. Worship transforms us as we meet together to encourage, edify, and express our collective thanks to God in the name of the Lord.

In the New Testament there were no new or updated worship liturgies beyond what was established in the Old Testament. Must believe that Old Testament worship practices were adhered to for the most part until Jesus came. A few elements such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper became regular parts of corporate worship then. What we DO get from the New Testament is instructions to believers about their “posture” as worshipers. While there is much more to be said, but consider these three well-known scriptures that stood out to me from our reading that I think have some powerful reminders for corporate worship.

Ephesians 5:18-20- …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Colossians 3:15-17- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Romans 12:1-2- Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

What do you see when you read these scriptures together? What stands out to you? Here’s what I see:

  1. We are able to worship TROUGH Christ because of the power of His death and the power of the resurrection.
  2. Worship is NEVER about us. It is Christ-centric; Christ is the object of our worship.
  3. Worship is never strictly vertical. While scripture is full of references to vertical worship e.g. “sing to the Lord,” scripture is also clear that we are sing TO and WITH one another in a horizontal fashion. Read these scriptures again. Every single one focuses on a horizontal element in worship. We are to sing to ONE ANOTHER…instruct ONE ANOTHER…admonish ONE ANOTHER.
  4. Worship is an opportunity for us to express our THANKS to God in THE NAME OF THE LORD.
  5. Worship is EXPERIENTIAL. We are to sing and make music from our hearts, offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, have a transformed mind et al. As we humbly offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, Christ transforms us to be more like Christ.
  6. Worship UNIFIES US. Because Christ is the object of our worship, we are called to peace, we are and are unified by the message of Christ.

Friends, let the truths of these passages remind you our purpose in worship. While our liturgies might vary to some degree, the object of our worship must be Christ who desires to continue to transform us to be more like Him. Soli Deo Gloria

The Young Daughter and The Boomer Tenor

In the past two days I’ve been reminded of why it’s good to have multiple generations in music ministry. I’m convinced more and more that any church that values ALL her members and finds why to incorporate each person of varying abilities will be a healthy church.

First, last night in our choir rehearsal one of our choir members brought her younger daughter (school aged) to choir with her because she wanted to share in music ministry with her daughter. We’ve long valued our young people in our orchestra who have musical gifts and it’s a joy to welcome young singers who want to learn alongside other generations in musical expressions of worship. I’m sure it was somewhat overwhelming to the young daughter sitting through her first rehearsal with us, but to watch her mother beaming with joy as she, and the other ladies around her, made her feel welcomed made my heart soar. I’m sure neither the daughter nor the ladies around her realize the impact the multi-generational community of faith will have.

Second, today I met with a newer tenor in the choir who is a Boomer and recently retired. He wanted to meet with me to share his heart for music ministry and to let me hear him sing some so I could get idea of the types of things he’s capable of doing if, and when, I get the opportunity to use him. I was very encouraged by our time together. He and his wife just moved from California just before the pandemic started and found their way here to our church. To hear him affirm my commitment to the truth of the lyrical content of the songs we sing over the style I choose was such an encouragement to me. He and his wife longed to find a place where they could use their musical gifts in worship and they found their home here. I’m grateful.

So today, I’m praising God for two people: the young daughter and the Boomer tenor. These two are separated by 3 generations, but have found a place of service in our music ministry in the same room, in the same ensemble. Each brings their own uniqueness and giftedness that can be used in congruency for the building of the Kingdom.

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