I believe there are leaders who truly desire to be intergenerational in their approach to worship but have multiple types of services in their church. These leaders sincerely believe their church fits the definition of intergenerational in every context, except the part where services should be mirrored in terms of content and style. These churches are not a “pure” form of intergenerational, but truly believe in the biblical concept that intergenerational behavior, interaction, and philosophy is important. These churches are what I refer to as modified intergenerational.
Some reasons why modified intergenerational churches are necessary:
- The church with space issues. Sometimes a second worship team is necessary because there are more people than seating.
- The church with aesthetic issues. Worship spaces that are very traditional make it difficult to achieve more diverse styles of worship. This may also include acoustic issues as well.
- The church with programming issues. I’ve found this particularly common in large churches with multiple Bible Study times, etc.
Here are the non-negotiables to being modified intergenerational:
- The leadership must always seek ways to integrate the generations in worship and in other ministries of the church. A regular opportunity for the church to worship together can be quite effective for integrating the generations.
- The decision to create (or maintain) different services cannot be based primarily on music preferences of those in charge. I think a better approach is to find what musical styles your particular congregation does well, and capitalize on them. Consider the talent pool of your church and start there. That doesn’t mean not to branch out and take a few risks, but don’t be something you’re not to try to reach certain people. Inauthentic and mediocre worship services do not attract anyone in the long-term.
- The decision to create (or maintain) cannot be based on a power struggle from staff and/or key leadership to “get what they want.”
- The decision to create (or maintain) cannot be based on what some “other church” is doing that seems to be growing. Every church context is different and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all.
- The leadership of the church doesn’t move service times with the specific purpose of trying to target families and then decide/assume that young families prefer a certain type of music. We’ve all read the research that says that services that start before 9:30 on a Sunday will be mostly older generations and not families. I’ve seen numerous churches that “assume” that young families are only interested in modern worship music so they may a flip-flop long standing traditional worship with a new contemporary service at 11 am. Guess what this does? If 11 am is still the highest visiting hour for new visitors, it almost assures that visitors to your church will be getting a skewed view of the whole church. Likewise, if it’s targeted for families, the Bible study hour for children may only be offered opposite this service, which makes it almost necessary for any family wanting to worship together to attend 11 regardless of what the family might desire to do. Moving what was traditionally the “church” hour for many Boomers and Builders to another time can be a slap in the face. It screams, we don’t care about you, we only care about the new people who might be here…or our young families…so because you are more mature in your faith, you need to take one for the team and submit your desires to the new believers. Okay, there is merit to this argument to a degree, but if every time you turn around your submitting and there is nothing on the other end, then we’re missing the part in Philippians 2 about being MUTUALLY submissive.
*A better solution is to make sure that members and visitors alike aren’t hindered in service choice based on other (controllable) factors such as Bible Study/Sunday School choices. Other factors, such as time, location, and music will vary from congregation to congregation in the modified intergenerational church, but the emphasis is again ALWAYS on valuing ALL generations and making the best choices with what you have.
What would you add? Send me a message or respond and join in the conversation. I’d love to hear what other churches that are modified in their approach are doing to keep generational integration alive.