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.
This 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.
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.
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.
“Intergenerational Worship” is worship in which people of every age are understood to be equally important.