A supercharged opportunity for spiritual growth
Every pastor and church leader wants their congregation to grow spiritually, but how many of us are aware that intergenerational services can be a supercharged opportunity for spiritual growth? Consider these points:
1. All of us need heroes and examples in the Christian faith.
These people motivate and inspire us to be become better followers of Jesus, but where do we find them? Sometimes our heroes are great Christians from the pages of history or are the speakers we follow on Facebook, but more often they are right within our own congregation. It’s just that we haven’t met them yet! So how do we get to know them? How do we form a sense of spiritual connection? It’s often through intergenerational worship and other similar activities!
2. Christian worship is a learned skill.
We learn how to worship God by observing and worshipping alongside others. Children, young people and new Christians all need to be enculturated into forms of Christian worship so that these become natural. Worshipping God in age-segregated groups is helpful, but it does not enculturate them into the wider Christian church. The intergenerational service when done well is a great way to do this.
3. Pain produces spiritual growth!
There I’ve said it. Apart from the special few who find al-age services fun, they are often uncomfortable and painful. We are stretched! Yet the challenge itself maybe why they are so important. Learning how to get on with others, how to be humble, how to make space for difference and how to truly listen to each other are all character traits that make us more like Jesus. Sometimes it’s only through the joy and the discomfort of intergenerational worship that our inner attitudes are challenged and we are transformed in deep and profound ways.
4. Engagement leads to greater ownership and identification.
Whenever you invest in something you develop a greater sense of responsibility. This is also true of intergenerational worship. The senior or child or young adult who takes part in all-age worship for the very first time will often treasure their involvement. In that moment the church shifts from being ‘their’ church to ‘my’ church. Therefore a carefully crafted service which engages right across the congregational spectrum can create a powerful sense of belonging, and isn’t this what Jesus ultimately wanted—for us to be one big ‘family’?
So intergenerational services…do like them or love them? You decide. Which one of the four points above is most significant to you? Let me simply suggest that if you don’t have at least several intergenerational services in your church each year you may be missing out on something big!
Story: Andrew Brown
Andrew is Senior Pastor of Pakuranga Baptist Church in Auckland.
This article was originally published in Baptist Children and Family Ministries’ Connect magazine and is used with permission.