Why Multigenerational Worship?

Because the more opportunities we have to relate to people who see the world from a different point of view the better we are at being able to function in a multi-cultural and pluralist society.

Because science has told us that the presence of children raises the chemicals in our adult bodies that produce the desire to nurture, to have compassion, and to have empathy for the other.

Because it is important for adults to have a glimpse at the future through our children in a worship setting.

Because the expressions of joy, of sorrow, of celebration, of grief, of transcendence are different in people of different ages and to see them expressed in multiple ways is expressing the fullness of our humanity.

Because our society has fractured the family into so many divided segments that to worship multi-generationally is a counter-culture act to reclaim what is being lost.

Because children help our seniors remain connected and vital.  There is nothing like witnessing a spontaneous hug from a child with an elderly person of 90 plus years and seeing the elder’s eyes light up.

Because children benefit from getting to know other adults who are not their parents by participating in the multi-generational choir and other worship activities.

Because children learn the importance of coming together as a worship community where all are valued for who they are.

Because children learn they are not just on display when they are in the full service like they could be when they are only allowed to be in part of the service and then ceremoniously ushered out.

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Fred,
    I love this post! Especially your first point. Doing multigenerational worship and living in a multigenerational house has taught me so much. I see how people of different ages and learning styles need different things in worship. I see how while often we assume our elders and children want and need different things, that they are actually more alike than not. I see how I overlook people of different ages and abilities often but the more time I spend with them, the less likely I am to do that.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post!

    In Faith,

    Rev. Katie

  2. Hi Fred,

    I love this. Our church has been doing “whole worship” for many years now and while it isn’t always easy, my one reason for shifting from the “con” side to the “pro” side is that I finally realized that this was the one common hour we all had each week, as a family. It has become so important now that my daughters are all teens and we all are going different directions. I also like LOVE your last point. Thanks!

    Tina

  3. Thanks for this list of reasons for doing multigenerational worship, Fred!

    I linked to this post on FB, where, among the replies, was one from a friend who is Eastern Orthodox. He recounted a visit to an “Old Believers” church where he observed 3-4 y/o children who had been taught to read the musical notation specific to that tradition, 7-9 y/o children eloquently reading from the Church Fathers, etc. in the worship service. The children were not just present but active participants in the worship experience. Children were even in the choir which, for special services, stood for as much as three hours. The details are unique to the tradition, but the concept is full participation in ways suited to the development and training of the children. Not scaling back the service, just fully including the children.

    We UUs have our own ways, certainly. But if we fully include children in worship, we have every reason to believe they will participate at the level their training and development allow and will experience worship as theirs. Much of the rest of children’s lives is age-segregated. They need the experience of age-integration in worship.

    Thanks for posting this, Fred.

  4. As I’m now preparing a multigenerational service for the Sunday after Thanksgiving, this inspires me. Part of our ‘journey to wholeness’ as a denomination has to be doing a better job of integrating our children and youth into worship and other aspects of church life. I got push back when I did my first multigen service – by the third one, most of the congregation was on board. Childrens’ enthusiasm is infectious!

  5. I like it that Stories for all Ages are blended into our services, especially when they contain the themes of the subsequent music and spoken words for us seniors. Yesterday was a crowded day for us. But, by making it to Services, we were healed greatly.

  6. We all have so much to learn from one another. Old or young, we each hold part of the truth.


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