What does intergenerational worship look like?
This week we continue sharing stories about the Intergenerational life and ministry of our Church - a key pillar of the Assembly Strategic Plan. One of the Church's key voices in this space Chris Barnett (Intergenerational Ministry - Children & Families, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania) reflects on what it means to shape intergenerational worshipping communities where all are welcomed, nurtured and included.
Written by Chris Barnett, Intergenerational Ministry - Children & Families, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Intergenerational worship takes seriously the idea that people of all ages are part of the worshiping congregation. Just as the oldest to the youngest person present can be part of the body of Christ, so too can the youngest to the oldest person present be genuinely included in worship.
Whilst this is true in theory, for it to become reality requires a great deal of intentionality. What is required for worship to be truly intergenerational?
Intentionally intergenerational worship is different from 'children’s', 'family', 'contemporary' and even 'traditional' worship in that it deliberately fosters engagement by people from at least two different generations. Note that here, by this definition, it is possible for worship to be genuinely intergenerational without children or young people being present.
Intergenerational worship is worship that intentionally involves people of different generations in an encounter with God through a range of acts of worship. This might include things such as hearing and reflecting on God’s word, responding to God with praise and/or confession, receiving forgiveness, giving offerings and engagement with one another.
One way of thinking about intergenerational worship is as multi-age worship with an intentional intergenerational overlay. Thus, the planning and leadership of intergenerational worship take into account core elements of multi-age worship – particularly the multi-sensory, multi-intelligence, multi-ability dimensions – and intentionally adds in opportunities for intergenerational connection and engagement.
Intergenerational worship can foster surprise, wonder, delight and joy as people of all ages connect more deeply with God and with one another.
Some Simple Tips for Intergenerational Worship
- Be clear
- Utilise story
- Include participation
- Engage senses and emotions
- Integrate content
- Use invitation
- Be real
Some Practical Suggestions
- Ensure explanations, invitations and directions are clear so that participants know expectations
- Use language that is hospitable, invitational, inclusive and can be understood
- Provide opportunities for interaction of small intergenerational groups within worship
- Include fun, excitement and surprise in the context of genuine worship
- Give priority to visuals and opportunities for physical movement
- Provide multi-sensory experiences, including touch, taste and smell as well as sight and hearing
- Involve a number of different people — representing a range of generations — in various aspects of the service
- Make sure invitations to programmed movement (eg. actions, dancing, clapping during songs) are inclusive of all present and respectful of different abilities
(Adapted from material originally included in Engage Together: Intergenerational Worship Ideas for Lent)
Every month we share the Children and Families Ministry Update from the Synod of Vic/Tas that contains helpful resources, articles and links for intergenerational ministry and ministry with children and families. Find it on our website at the start of every month, or subscribe directly by contacting Chris Barnett on email@example.com or (03) 9340 8806.