Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Blessing of an Intergenerational Church Worshiping together

With the birth of Redeemer's first great grand baby, I marveled at the grace of God for making us an intergenerational church before our 25th year of existence.  This little covenant child has the blessing of her parents, grand parents, and great grand parents worshiping with her at Redeemer. I think it is rare to be a suburban church and have all the generations represented in our congregation.  I love and cherish this feature of our fellowship.    

Our worship "style" is often pegged as "traditional", which I can't stand. I much rather prefer calling it what it is: Historic Christian worship with a quasi-liturgical and clearly Reformed bent but also an appreciation for new, solid, congregational worship songs. We even have a few of our members writing and composing new congregational music for us to sing- you can't get more contemporary than that!  We have selected a style that we trust is both Bible-based and accessible for multiple generations. 

In recent months I have been both amazed and blessed at the sophistication displayed by so many of our Redeemer children related to their comprehension of what happens in the worship service. Parents have shared sermon notes taken by children just ten or eleven years old that show they really get what is being taught.  Children have given me notes and letters thanking me for some aspect of the worship service, sometimes with a picture or quote that reveals they are tracking wonderfully. On many occasions the observations of young people have given me an insight about Scripture I didn’t previously have. God teaches us by His Word and He is constantly using the insights of others, no matter what age, to do so. 

Redeemer’s worship service is simple but purposeful.  It is intended to follow a process that is plain to understand and Scripturally derived. Furthermore, there is intentionally lots of Scripture integrated in the readings, prayers, songs, and sermon.  We are a “Word and Sacrament” church, so these things should be front and center.  Children and teens get the point. We shouldn’t underestimate their ability to see the reasoning behind what we do. Furthermore, we shouldn’t assume it’s too old fashioned for them or in some way antiquated.  If we are careful about what we do and take the time to explain the elements, worshipers of all ages will appreciate our approach and be blessed.  

To be clear, by celebrating our worship style I am not intending to criticize other approaches to  worship.  There are many Biblically faithful, God-centered, Christ-exalting worship orders and styles.  As long as believers are asking the right questions when they plan times of worship, a God-honoring result is likely.  What does God say in His Word about worship?  What does God say is the purpose of our gatherings? According to the Bible, what elements should be included in a worship service?  What does God get out of our worship?  When these questions are asked, a worship service that exalts God and edifies the saints (no matter what age) follows, and this is what we are constantly striving for at Redeemer.  Hearing from young people in our congregation who are tracking and appreciative of the intentionality of our worship approach is truly one of my greatest joys.  

A caution for us relates to how we speak of other styles of worship.  If we are careful to speak of the legitimacy of multiple forms of Christian worship, we’ll cultivate a humble attitude. If we are condescending and critical of other forms and styles, we will nurture a pharisaical attitude that is not becoming of the humility we should have as worshipers.  Also, acting as though we do it right and everyone else is wrong or somehow less mature, will set our young people up to either become joyless, judgmental critics or leave a bad taste in their mouth about what we do and cause them to want no part of it as they grow up.  We do what we do for a reason, but we are not saying we are right about everything or that everyone else has an inferior approach to how they worship.   

The broad spectrum of engaged worshipers at Redeemer is a blessing I hope we all cherish. Seeing our young people participating, taking notes, and discussing the sermon or other aspects of worship should encourage every member of our church. For church leadership’s part, we are committed to provide Biblically guided, practically ordered, understandable, God-centered, and Christ-exalting corporate worship meetings.  For your part, our members of all ages, be prayerful and humble about our approach to God in worship and be sure to engage your children in discussion about everything we’re doing.  It is such a joy to serve a unified, intergenerational congregation of people who love to worship their God in the splendor of His holiness and in the joy of Christ our gracious savior.

No comments: