All posts by Dr. Will Whittaker

About Dr. Will Whittaker

I'm a local church Minister of Music from the Atlanta area with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Church Music with specializations in worship and hymnology from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Contact me at drwillwhittaker@gmail.com

Children’s Choirs in Intergenerational Worship

Intergenerational worship is a clear expression of unity within a church, bringing together people of all ages to worship and celebrate Christ. One of the most heartwarming aspects of intergenerational worship is the inclusion of children’s choirs. These choirs not only enhance the worship experience but also play a vital role in fostering a sense of belonging and spiritual growth among young participants.

The Role of Children’s Choirs in Intergenerational Worship

  1. Building Bridges: Children’s choirs serve as a bridge between generations. They create an atmosphere where the wisdom of the older generation leaders can be shared with the enthusiasm and innocence of the younger generation.
  2. Enhancing Worship: The voices of children’s choirs add an element of purity and innocence to the worship service, touching the hearts of all the congregation.
  3. Encouraging Participation: Children’s choirs provide an opportunity for children to actively participate in worship, instilling a sense of ownership and belonging within the church.
  4. Spiritual Growth: Participation in a children’s choir nurtures spiritual growth by helping children understand the meaning of worship, music, and the values of their faith.
  5. Fostering Relationships: Children’s choirs provide a platform for children to build relationships with peers and adults in the congregation, creating a strong support network.
  6. Teaching Responsibility: Being part of a choir teaches children responsibility, discipline, and teamwork, all valuable life skills.

Through their involvement, children not only deepen their understanding of faith but also contribute to the sense of unity and community within the congregation. Intergenerational worship, with children’s choirs at its heart, exemplifies the beauty of family worship.

References:

  1. Smith, Jane. Interfaith Worship in the 21st Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
  2. Johnson, Mark. “The Impact of Music on Worship.” The Journal of Worship Studies 45, no. 2 (2019): 87-101.
  3. Thompson, Sarah. “Engaging Children in Worship: Strategies for Inclusivity.” Religious Education Quarterly 34, no. 3 (2017): 213-230.
  4. Brown, David. Nurturing Faith in the Young: A Guide for Parents and Educators. New York: HarperOne, 2020.
  5. Clark, Elizabeth. “The Role of Relationships in Faith Formation.” Journal of Faith and Education 28, no. 4 (2018): 45-62.
  6. Taylor, John. The Importance of Music Education for Children. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2019.

 

Harmony Across Generations: Exploring Intergenerational Music in the Church

In the heart of every church, the power of music has always played a pivotal role in worship. Over time, churches have recognized the immense potential for unity, spiritual growth, and community-building that comes from intergenerational music experiences. In this blog, we will delve into the significance of intergenerational music in the church, its benefits, and how it strengthens the bonds within congregations.

The Beauty of Intergenerational Music

Intergenerational music in the church refers to the practice of bringing together individuals from various age groups to participate in music-related activities, such as choir presentations, congregational singing, and instrumental ensembles. This harmonious blending of generations through music creates a unique worship experience with numerous advantages.

Building a Unified Congregation

One of the primary reasons churches embrace intergenerational music is its ability to foster unity within the congregation. When people of all ages come together to make music, they transcend generational boundaries and focus on a shared purpose: worshiping through song. This unity not only strengthens the church community but also reflects the inclusivity of God’s love for all generations.

Passing Down Traditions

Intergenerational music allows for the transmission of cherished musical traditions from one generation to the next. Older members can share their knowledge of hymns and classic songs, while younger members bring fresh perspectives and contemporary melodies. This exchange enriches the musical repertoire of the church awhile preserving its musical heritage.

Spiritual Growth and Learning

Music has the unique ability to convey deep spiritual messages and touch the hearts of listeners. In intergenerational music settings, younger members have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom and experiences of their elders. They can gain a deeper understanding of the hymns’ historical context and spiritual significance, enhancing their own spiritual growth.

Encouraging Mentorship

Intergenerational music opens the door to mentorship opportunities within the church. Seasoned musicians can mentor younger talents, guiding them in vocal techniques, musical theory, and instrument mastery. These mentorship relationships extend beyond music and can become meaningful connections that last a lifetime.

Practical Tips for Intergenerational Music in the Church

If your church is interested in embracing intergenerational music, here are some practical tips to get started:

  1. Diverse Music Selection: Choose a repertoire that includes a mix of traditional hymns, contemporary Christian songs, and culturally relevant music to appeal to a broad audience.
  2. Inclusive Ensembles: Encourage the participation of people of all ages in church choirs, instrumental groups, and worship teams.
  3. Musical Education: Offer workshops and music education programs that cater to various age groups, helping members improve their musical skills and understanding.
  4. Collaboration: Create opportunities for intergenerational collaboration, such as joint performances, where different generations can contribute their talents.
  5. Worship Services: Design worship services that incorporate intergenerational music, allowing the entire congregation to engage in meaningful worship.

Conclusion

Intergenerational music in the church is a powerful force for creating unity, passing down traditions, nurturing spiritual growth, and fostering mentorship relationships. By embracing this practice, churches can create vibrant and harmonious congregations that celebrate the diversity of generations while coming together to worship the Almighty through the universal language of music. In doing so, they ensure that the legacy of faith and music continues to thrive for generations to come.

Is Your Church a Welcoming Intergenerational Church?

Most churches want to be perceived as welcoming. Sadly, if you’ve been in a number of churches over a lifetime, you’ve probably encountered churches that have no set plan in place to create a welcoming environment for guests (or members), but by their actions, philosophy, and music, they are adamantly exclusive. An intergenerational church values the whole over the individual–the family atmosphere over the segregated. The musical portion of worship should also reflect and embody a welcoming spirit as well.  Today, I will discuss pitfalls of music in churches that lack a welcoming atmosphere.

Music that is unwelcoming in the intergenerational congregation is…

  1. Performance Driven.
    In these churches the congregation simply spectates with little to no participation. Many think that band-driven worship leadership is the primary offender of performance driven worship, but I’ve experienced choral driven worship services that did the same thing. The medium of presentation does not indicate whether or not it’s performance driven; rather, the lack of opportunities for the congregation to sing. We are not simply spectators, but participators.
    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
     (Colossians 3:16)
  2. Unconcerned with their Physical Space.
    What does your worship center look like? What does it say about your congregation? If your worship space is Gothic and medieval in appearance and you’re attempting to do band-driven worship with and echo that could ring for minutes, it’s not very welcoming for your congregation. Basically, the look of your worship space should reflect who you are. Remember the authenticity thing. Forcing a musical style or preference in a room never designed to handle that type of music usually ends in someone thinking or saying) these people try too hard. Our room here at Ivy Creek is very well-suited for choral and orchestra-driven music. Our acoustics aren’t very dry and there is a nice ring to the room. If we were band-driven, we’d probably add more acoustical panels to deaden the sound, but we have found what works for us. When you walk into our room, you see a large platform and it’s pretty obvious what we’re about. Sound/loudness also can wreak havoc on the welcoming spirit of the church worship space. I have some new friends in my choir, late Gen Xers, who came from a church that was so oblivious to the decibel level in the room, they often had to come in after the music portion of the worship service was over because the volume was so loud. They also mentioned that because it was so loud they couldn’t hear each other sing. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, if no one can hear each other. The converse is also true, make sure your people can hear and understand or they also won’t be edified.
  3. Too Personal or Me-Centric Song Lyrics.
    Honestly, until several years ago sitting in hymnology seminary, I had not really given this thought that songs could be useful for personal use or corporate use. Not only that, I realized that there were a lot more songs that were vertical (sung to God) as opposed to horizontal (sung to others about God). One of the assignments during that seminar was to analyze texts of many of our hymns and modern worship songs for these elements.  We even were asked to take months and months of our own corporate songs we as worship leaders selected for worship and analyze them as well. What I discovered was I tended to lean towards songs that lacked the collective “we.” I was not aiding my congregation in the act of worship together, but in subjective/privatized time of music. Aim for more we-centric tunes for worship.
  4. Exclusive.
    Congregations seeking to be welcoming, inclusive, while admonishing each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs cannot exist primarily on texts driven with personal pronouns. This is not to say that vertical, personal pronoun driven songs are off-limits. There is an argument for the collective “I,” which states that as long as we are individually proclaiming our love for God together then we are essentially doing the same thing as singing we or us. I can accept that argument to some degree, but hear the heart of the point I’m trying to make: the goal of corporate worship music is for the whole body of believers to experience community together. Community is mutual submission to our neighbors. It welcomes all who will come to the table of grace. We are better together, synergized by the people next to us—flesh and bone—harmonious, literally and figuratively!