Intergenerational worship is worship in which people of every age are understood to be equally important. Each generation has the same significance before the face of God and in the worshiping congregation. . . . Each and all are the church of now.
Weekly worship gatherings are the family reunions of God’s people. We gather as one body to praise God, find rest in God, be reminded of our hope in God, hear our call from God, and leave equipped by God. It is, as Robbie Castleman says, “the only thing we get to do forever.”
Picture your congregation during its weekly worship gathering.
Which generations are there?
Which generations aren’t there?
Which generations are equally important participants?
What message do your answers convey to your congregation and to your community?
Worshiping in a way that says to all ages, “You belong here,” and that invites all ages to participate in meaningful ways requires intentionality. It’s ongoing. It’s challenging. But, as Theresa Cho points out, it’s also faith nurturing: Worshiping as an intergenerational community pushes and challenges us to be aware of how all in worship experience God’s presence; opens us up to the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit; give[s] us permission to not claim to know it all; and [encourages us to] exercise grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love to those that we deem different than ourselves.
This section of the toolkit focuses on ideas for worship planners and suggestions for parents, and we hope you’ll pass these along to the families in your congregation. To start off, download this list of Ten Way to Strengthen Intergenerational Worship.
Does your congregation bless people with the gift of a Bible as a way to celebrate a milestone? How might that gift become a way to remind the recipient that their church is also their family? The Cookbook Bible provides a few ideas.
As part of a project called “Voices of Our Community” at Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, over 120 photos were taken capturing the dreams of people of all ages. How might your church be inspired by their visual project?
When children were noisy during worship at Rev. Barry Kelk’s church, he would stop and say, “Can you hear the children? The day we can’t hear them we will have died, because they are our heartbeat.” Find out what happened next in this delightful Conversation about Intergenerational Ministry.
Forest City North Church in London, Ontario, created a Love Is video with people spanning seven decades in age; The Easter Story features children and adults retelling the account from Mark 16:1-8; and in these videos people of varying ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities recite Psalm 139. How might your church make or use an intergenerational video to begin a worship service or to lead into a message?