Tag Archives: multigenerational

Band and Orchestra Kids Go To Church (Part 1)

 By Dr. Brian Reichenbach, Assistant Professor of Trumpet, Lee University

YES, of course they do! Sadly, though, when I ask many Christian band and orchestra students if they have ever played in church the answer is most often “no.” I see this as a huge missed opportunity for connecting what our kids do outside of church with what happens on Sunday morning. Plus, student instrumentalists can add so much musical variety to our gathered worship. This series offers some practical ideas for getting them involved while addressing the unique challenges that often discourage both worship leaders and students.

Beginning to Engage Young Instrumentalists in Worship
It is challenging and time consuming to find a place for amateur musicians to actually serve congregational worship. Students’ skills are modest, and worship leaders may not be comfortable navigating the complexities of various instruments. We want the best quality music in our services. Yet, if we genuinely want to nurture an intergenerational community that uses their gifts to serve one another, it is important to find ways to engage with these young musicians.

Here are some great places to start and a few guiding principles:

  1. Start with ensembles. Young players are not likely to be ready to play a solo in church. Find others like them and create a group to make music at their level. It doesn’t need to be a full symphony orchestra. Perhaps it is just a brass ensemble or a string ensemble or a balanced variety of instruments. Strive to make sure there is more than one player on each part, especially for the newest players.
  2. Pair them up with adults. My wife and I grew up sitting next to both adult musicians (professionals and amateurs) in church ensembles. Occasionally in the ensembles I have led, parents and their own kids have even played together. What an amazing intergenerational opportunity!
  3. Be mindful of their literacy. By literacy, I mean not only how well they can read music, but how well they can play by ear or improvise (“aural literacy”). A young Suzuki-trained string player, for example, might come with amazing technique and ear playing skills, but has not yet developing their reading skills. On the other hand, a student from school band may have strong note-reading skills, but has never learned by listening to a recording and may never have seen a leadsheet. Being attentive to this will help guide you to the right tools for success (more on this later).
  4. Don’t start too early. Players within the first two years or so of playing an instrument are probably not ready to play in a church ensemble. This doesn’t have to be a point of discouragement. In fact, when older students lead the way, the younger ones can look forward to the time when they are ready to begin playing in church.
  5. Make it positive. The biggest reason not to start too early is that it is absolutely essential that kids have a positive first experience doing this. In the next post, we’ll look at a few ways to begin plugging instrumental students into the gathered worship service.
This article originally appeared at https://brianreichenbach.com and was reposted with permission.

 

BrianReichenbach headshot with trumpet.jpg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brian Reichenbach was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Trumpet at Lee University School of Music in Cleveland, Tennessee.  Previously, he served in various roles as a teacher and conductor at Trinity International University, Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton College, and College of DuPage, directing wind ensembles and teaching classes in music theory, aural skills, and brass techniques.

 

Intergenerational Worship: Unique but Unified

Intergenerational ministry and specifically intergenerational worship finds its roots throughout the Bible. The themes of unity and being a part of the Body of Christ saturate the whole of scripture, which is at the heart of what it means to be intergenerational. I believe an intergenerational model of worship is truly the only biblical approach. Scripture may not address musical style, specific clothes to wear for worship, or what your worship space should look like specifically, but it does address our need to be generationally diverse, unified, and value all ages and abilities as part of the Body of Christ.

Scripture is infused with words that are compatible with an intergenerational mindset. Words such as: unity, one, humility, Body of Christ, one generation to another, together, one mind, one heart and others saturate scripture and speak of the importance of all ages together, unified.

My favorite passage of scripture that guides my own mind-set related to intergenerational worship comes from 1 Corinthians 12. I’m particularly moved by the syntax of the CEV translation as Paul writes about the Body of Christ.

14 Our bodies don’t have just one part. They have many parts. 15 Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the foot still belong to the body? 16 Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body? 17 If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. 18 But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best. 19 A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. 20 It takes many parts to make a single body. 21 That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet. 22 In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest….

24 put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. 25 He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. 26 If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy. 27 Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 1 Corinthians 12:14-22; 24-27 (CEV)

We were made to live in unity, but are uniquely made. Consider that for a moment. Each of us, with our God-given unique talents and gifts, were made to offer those gifts for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. No one is excluded! All have a place. One of the primary goals of intergenerational worship ministry is to find a place for each person who has felt the call of God to serve. This means all ages, all ability levels, together. The stronger helping the weak and the weak learning from the strong.

COMING LATE SUMMER 2022
MY NEW BOOK
CULTIVATING INTERGENERATIONAL WORSHIP

The Future is Now

In their book, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids, Powell and Clark found that students crave affirmation and relationships with adults in their community of faith.[i]  It makes them feel valued. They want to get connected to the church, to serve, to invest in others. Powell and Clark go on to say that students who invest in younger kids are more likely to be connected and committed to their local church.[ii] Students want to feel valued and appreciated for what they can bring to the community of faith.[iii]

            Church Leader: what are you doing to integrate these students into the leadership of your church? For the worship leader specifically: How will you not only train future worship leaders, but how will you allow them to serve the body of Christ? Yes, it’s great to have graded choirs and youth choirs, but some of the more talented students in your ministry should be playing piano, guitar, or other musical instruments for another group in your church. The student with the great voice could sing on one of your worship service praise teams. The student who has a heart for working with children’s worship or children’s choir may be just the ministry he or she needs to stay connected to the church, or the students who are interested in audio/visual ministry could serve in various ways all over the church. What opportunities are you creating for this to happen in your church, leader? How will you ensure this happens?

            You must seek creative ways to use your students every chance you can because if they don’t get connected during their youth, it’s likely they’ll never get plugged in as an adult. They crave relationships with adults who value what talents and ideas they bring to the table. They need validation and affirmation along the way. They are the future of the church and we must find ways for them to learn, grow, serve, and invest in others themselves.

            Here a just a few ways you as a leader can invest and allow students and children the opportunity to grow and serve in the intergenerational church:

  1. Develop student accompanists
  2. Allow them to sing in the Sunday morning choir
  3. Use students on praise teams or solos
  4. Allow students to play their instruments in an instrumental ensembles or praise band
  5. Allow students to serve in children’s worship, drama, or children’s choir ministry
  6. Train and equip students for audio/visual ministry
  7. Allow students and children to have a voice in the worship ministry

            Children and students must have the opportunity to develop their skills as they learn what it means to lead in worship. You never know who God is calling to not only vocational ministry, but who He’s calling to serve the church after you are gone. Truthfully, isn’t it worth it to invest in even a few students if someone gets plugged in for life? If not, the church of tomorrow will be severely lacking musicians.

            No matter what size church you have or what your style of musical worship is, find many outlets for your students to serve. It just makes sense to provide opportunities for the greatest number of students to participate. Certainly, extremely talented musicians should have greater responsibility as needed, but don’t forget the moderate level musician in your church. We need all kinds in the body of Christ, and that extends also to music ministry also. We must foster an environment that seeks to honor the giftedness of all and provides avenues for them to serve.

            I get it; the pressure, worship leader, is undoubtedly high in your church to produce a quality worship experience each week. Taking a “training” approach to music ministry takes guts and a solid plan. The beginning product might not be awesome, but keep plugging away, training, investing, and praying for God to move and the quality will continue to rise if you raise the bar high and encourage along the way.

            I tell people often I’ve had key people in my life that invested in me. They saw something in me that needed to be utilized for the building of the Kingdom. I think of them often and remind them of their specific encouragement and risk they took letting me accompany or sing when I didn’t even think I was ready. Because of their investment in me, I’m able to invest in our next generations.

Who are investing in?


[i] Powell and Clark, 98-99.

[ii] Ibid, 98

[iii] For further reading, I commend to you the great book, Growing Young, by Powell, Mulder, and Griffin (Baker: Grand Rapids, 2016). These authors highlight the fact that a warm community is essential for keeping young people connected to a local community of faith.