Five reasons our corporate worship gatherings should include worshipers of all ages:
1) It’s Biblical: We see throughout Scripture that people of all ages gathered together to worship God. All ages were together listening as Joshua renewed the covenant with God (Joshua 8:35). Jesus gathered children near to him and they (and the adults surrounding him) listened to his words (Matthew 19:13–15). Pentecost turned out just as Joel had foretold: sons and daughters prophesying and old men dreaming dreams (Joel 2:28–29; Acts 2:14–41). In the Bible, God’s people have always included all ages in worship.
2) It’s Universal: When we join in multi-generational worship, we offer worship that transcends time. For the younger generation, we join our voices with those who have been singing the song of the redeemed longer than we’ve been alive. For the older generation, we join with voices that will carry the song long after we are called from this earth. What an honor to be part of a tradition of glorifying God that has stood the test of time.
It is good for us to remember God’s actions throughout history. There is a danger in not remembering all God has done for us and throughout all of history. I was watching a television show recently about the shapes of the states of the United States of America. The historian told the host that a specific state has “historical amnesia.” The people have forgotten the history of the state and it has affected the way they currently live. That statement got me thinking. I believe the church may have a similar problem. The church has historical amnesia.
There is a danger in not remembering all God has done for us as well as throughout all of history. Nehemiah 9:16–17a states, “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff–necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff–necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.” We must understand that worship past is connected to worship present. God is faithful and his grace abounds, but our worship is most powerful when we remember God’s mighty acts.
A contemporary praise song written by worship leader Tommy Walker entitled “We Will Remember” challenges worshipers to remember the acts of Christ in our lives and to praise him accordingly. Lyrics such as, “We will remember the works of Your hands; We will stop and give you praise, for great is Thy faithfulness” and “I still remember the day You saved me, the day I heard You call out my name; You said You loved me and would never leave me, and I’ve never been the same” bring to our attention the importance of remembering God’s saving deeds, both historically and personally. The lyric of the bridge portion of the song, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, to the one from whom all blessings flow; Hallelujah, hallelujah, to the one whose glory has been shown” reiterates that our remembrance of all God has done leads to praise.
3) It’s Educational: Multi–generational worship offers worshipers the opportunity to learn from one another. We learn songs of praise that have been passed down from one generation to the next. We also have the opportunity to learn new forms of worship from new generations of worshipers. The songs we sing, the prayers we pray, the words spoken over us in a sermon, all teach us about God and his calling on our lives, no matter our age.
4) It’s Authentic: When we worship with those who are in a different age group than we are, we get a more accurate picture of the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul calls believers the body of Christ—a body made up of older and younger members. Each member of the body is equally important. When we worship together, we worship as a healthy body.
The Apostle Paul also calls the church the family of God and families include people of varying ages. Unless churches make a point of planning inclusive worship services, people at both ends of the age spectrum have the tendency to feel left out.
5) It’s Applicable: Truth is not relative and does not change with the times. God’s Word is timeless and applicable to all ages. It is no truer today than it was one thousand years ago and remains the same for ages to come. We see throughout Scripture that when the people of God forgot all that God had done for them, they began to get into serious trouble (just take a look through the prophetic books of the Old Testament to see examples; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, just to name a few). The fact that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life will never change and we must not only remember, but pass that truth on to future generations: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
Multi–generational worship offers us an opportunity to worship in a way pleasing to God. My desire is that we see the Church as God sees her and gather all ages, ethnicities and cultures together to give him the glory due his name.
(Worship Quest: An Exploration of Worship Leadership, pp. 95-97)