What’s so important about having an intergenerational church choir anyway?

In my research on intergenerational choirs in Southern Baptist Churches in Georgia, I found that leaders of churches that are intergenerational usually have a philosophical reason to value them. Even those leaders that are organically intergenerational and 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.

  1. 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. Makes a lot of sense!
  2. 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?
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. Leader’s personal preference or experience. A few of those interviewed (actually most of these, not surprisingly, were from organic 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 choir has 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. I will continue to explore the facets of the choir in the intergenerational church in the following blog posts. Stay tuned.

Surge 150 Georgia Baptist Music Camp Week—they are the future of church music.

will teachingThis week I am teaching on the faculty of the Georgia Baptist Music Camp (Surge 150) in Toccoa. I am joined by hundred of students (3rd grade and up) and tons of faculty and volunteers. It is always a great week of learning, building relationships, and refreshment. Our church has five students here in both children’s camp and Youth 1. I am teaching music theory, piano, and conducting for Youth 1 this year. It’s such a joy to be here and every year is different. This blog will be short because I’m rushing off to another session.

One thing that strikes me is the diversity of kids here each year. Students of all races, backgrounds, and church experiences gather to learn more about improving their musical craft and spiritual relationship with Jesus. Each student is being equipped to play and sing in the local church setting; many are already serving. As I think about the importance of training, I think about how important it is to use our children and youth in worship leadership in our churches NOW. This is no ordinary “choir” camp, although there is LOTS of choral singing. These kids can take guitar, orchestra, handbells, drama, sign language and a whole host of other specializations that can be used immediately in the local church. Those of us in worship leadership in the local church are truly missing out if we don’t find immediate ways to make sure these students are plugged into the local church. Invest!  You won’t be sorry.

Why should we educate ourselves in importance of Intergenerational Ministry/worship?

As I spent time researching choirs and leaders of choirs in intergenerational churches, I discovered some interesting information that suggests some positive trends for the future, if Georgia Baptist Ministers of Music are an indication of other ministers of music in other states.

  1. Younger Ministers of Music more intentionally have sought training in intergenerational ministry/worship than their older counterparts. Perhaps this is because many older ministers of music went to seminary when separate services weren’t even on anyone’s radar, but the encouraging news is younger ministers of music in intergenerational churches have received some training in the field.
  2. There is a direct positive correlation to seminary education and intergenerational training in ministers of music. Almost all of those I interviewed that had been to seminary indicated they learned about intergenerational ministry and/or worship.
  3. There is a direct correlation between those ministers of music who have not sought to learn more about intergenerational ministry/worship and the impact on the choir members.

Ministers of Music who have not sought to learn more about intergenerational worship/ministry are more likely (than those who have) to exhibit the following characteristics:

*More likely fall in the Boomer generation themselves

*Do not teach their choir members about the importance of intergenerational ministry/worship

*Not have seminary or even graduate school education

*Their choir members don’t understand the value of singing in an intergenerational choir

*Do nothing specific to foster interaction between the various age groups in the choir

This information alarms me because these leaders are ALREADY leaders of intergenerational choirs in intergenerational churches. As I wrote about last week, many of these leaders are primarily leaders of organic intergenerational churches. The leaders I interviewed who had learned more about intergenerational worship/ministry indicated the following means by which they learned more:

*Informal conversations– talk with our colleagues about what works and doesn’t work in their church.

*Books/articles– there are some great resources for teaching about intergenerational ministry (I can give you a VERY long list).

*Conferences/Courses– Intergenerational ministry and worship are topics increasingly becoming more and more regularly found in seminaries and conferences around the globe.

*Websites– What you are reading right now qualifies! Many are finding great resources on the web for information regarding intergenerational worship/ministry.

 

From a personal perspective, seven years ago when I went back to NOBTS and started studying intergenerational worship, I had no idea what to call what I felt in my gut was the church needs to be together in corporate worship. This process of learning solidified my philosophical belief that we should value every generation, listen to our members, and do our best to provide a unified spirit between the diversity of ages in our midst. Learning the why and how of intergenerational ministry/worship can provide the best opportunity for the leaders and the church to celebrate the richness that is the body of Christ.