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 other. These 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.