I had fun participating in a webinar sponsored by Music Makes Community on Intergenerational Worship on March 8th. The preparatory conversation and then the webinar presentation with Sarah Bentley Allred, Paul Vasile and Breen Sipes brought joy and a sense of holy community that I continue to reflect upon one week later!
I find it difficult at times to define what happens in our all ages together worship at Messy Church. Hearing a variety of perspectives on the definition of Intergenerational (IG) worship clarified that although it looks different in different local contexts, IG worship is based upon some common understandings. Collaborating together to define and then lead IG worship fills me with hope for future church in a time when local church life is difficult.
Here is my definition of IG worship:“IG worship creates space for all ages/ all people to come together and share to BE and BECOME the church.”
- Space: welcoming and safe space to create, question, experiment, play, learn and form relationships with the Divine, with each other and all creation
- All ages/All people: we come, no matter our ages or abilities, in our glorious diversity to BE church for one another
- Together: interactive engagement with the scripture all in one space and time
- Share: we come as learners on the path of discipleship rather than relying on an experts
Sarah’s definition was much more concise! “Worship that seeks to actively engage and equally value the gifts and needs of every generation.”
Gathered Wisdom from the Chat
- I don’t carry a standing definition, but I’m curious in this moment about our worship of a God who has all the qualities of all of the ages. – Jennifer
- Everything is for everyone” — in Quaker spaces, making the point that the space is for everyone (sitting on the floor, sitting on the benches), sharing vocal ministry is for everyone, having the wiggles is for everyone, finding spiritual nurture in the silence is for everyone. – Melinda
- Where everyone belongs and all can kind find their space/place. – Stacey
- I think Intergenerational Worship for me means really examining every aspect of worship and asking whether children and adults can both take part in it equally, and being willing to drop parts that we might hold dear if they’re not “accessible” to both children and adults. – Peter
What do you think?
I wonder how you define IG worship? Is your definition of Messy Church worship the same or different than how you define IG worship? How do you talk about Messy Church in your local context? What makes IG worship joyful and life-giving? What makes IG difficult? What have you learned by leading IG worship? Please share your thoughts in our Facebook or Instagram page, Facebook Team Leaders group or send me a note to [email protected].
I want to close with this quote from Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church in her book All-Age Worship (Bible Reading Fellowship 2010,2016). For me it is a call to continue to learn, to collaborate, and to share God’s grace with one another.
“It’s time to be real. It’s time to admit that worship with all ages present is easy to do appallingly and difficult to do well. It’s time to acknowledge that it takes a huge amount of grace from every participant.”Lucy Moore
I would add (and I am sure that Lucy would agree) that IG worship is wonderfully messy! My friends, may we continue to lean into the love of Christ with grace and humility. May we continue to innovate, adapt and experience God’s presence when things go well AND when they go differently than what we expected!
Peace and grace,
A few Resources shared at the Webinar
- Welcome Everybody – Fischy Music, adapted from an American folk hymn
- Be Open– Debbie Nargi-Brown
- Come to the Table – Jim Clemens from A Field of Voices
- Thank You for this Day, Spirit – Native American Church Movement, adapt. Jorge Lockward
- Go Now In Peace– Natalie Sleeth
Articles from Building Faith Website
- Vibrant Worship for All Ages: What Congregations Practicing Intergenerational Worship Have In Common
- Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: Practical Steps to Increasing Intergenerationality
- All Ages Worship: Shifting Language & Why it Matters
- Helping Children Prepare for Worship: Objects, Practices & Support
- Cookie Church: Training Worship Leaders Can Be Meaningful & Fun!