Chris' Blog

06.11.09

Chris Philbeck

Multigenerational Worship

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to have a multi-generational church. And please understand that when I use the term “multi-generational church” I’m talking about having a variety of ages worshipping together in our weekend services. Right now, we offer programming for children through the 4th grade for all of our services, and we include programming for 5th and 6th graders on Sunday mornings at 9:00. Children who are in the 7th grade and above worship together with their families.

From time-to-time I have conversations with people who wonder why we don’t offer programming for 7th and 8th graders or even a separate worship service geared specifically for teenagers like in times past. At the same time, we have parents with children for whom we provide programming who choose to bring them into the main services for a variety of reasons. So what’s the right answer?

I don’t claim to have all the answers or to always be right on every issue, but let me just tell you what I believe about all of this: I believe in the value of multi-generational worship. I believe that there needs to be a place for families to worship together, and I believe that someone who is in the 7th grade and up is not too young to come to the main service. (I actually believe 5th and 6th grade is not too young to come into the main service, either). What happens when families worship together? I can think of a number of things. First, worshipping together creates a living legacy of faith and faithfulness. What impact do you think it has on your children to see you sing, and pray, and study God’s Word? What impact will it have on your children to take the Lord’s Supper alongside you and see how meaningful it is in your life? What kind of memories do you think this will create? Worshipping together as a family can create a living legacy of faith and faithfulness. Second, worshipping together provides opportunities to talk about matters of faith. In Deuteronomy 6, God instructs His people to take His commands and place them upon their hearts. He goes on to tell them to impress them on their children by talking about them when they are sitting at home, walking down the road, when they lie down and when they get up. Worshipping together as a family can provide the specific subject matter for these kinds of conversations. I’m not foolish or arrogant enough to believe that someone who is 12 or 13 is going to listen to and understand every single thing that I say from the pulpit, but I know that they will listen to and understand at least some of the things I say. And let’s not forget that the communication of God’s Word to anyone is more about the Holy Spirit than it is the preacher. Third, worshipping together creates unity in the church. I have serious concerns about what the long-term results are of developing age specific worship venues for every age in the church. Where will end? Today’s teens are tomorrow’s young adult; today’s young adults are tomorrow’s young parents; today’s young parents are tomorrow’s empty-nesters, etc. My concern is that making it your goal to program for every age has the potential to fracture the church and breed spiritual selfishness and immaturity. That might sound like an overreaction, but I’ve seen it happen. There are a lot of things that seem like a good idea in the moment but the long-term ramifications are not what we hoped for.

These are the things that I have been thinking about lately. I understand that not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay. I don’t even mind if you share your disagreement with me (try to be kind…we all have the same ultimate goal).

Jesus cares,
Pastor Chris

One last thing…thanks for the positive way you responded to my offering appeal after the Memorial Day weekend. Our Memorial Day weekend offering was less than half of what it normally is. The next two weekend offerings were very strong. What a great church family!