Serving the Generations in Worship - Issue #63
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Mandan UMC is a small congregation in North Dakota but one that includes a wide range of ages of worshippers. They face the challenge of offering meaningful worship services for multiple generations with divergent needs and expectations.
In such a situation it would be easy for there to be tension and disagreement over how to worship. Randy Meissner, Lay Leader and the church's song leader, says, "The challenge is to find songs that people of different generations not only will like but will not be offended by what they hear. So we struggle to create an atmosphere that promotes spiritual growth and not bitterness. In true Methodist fashion, we feel we've met a compromise with excellence and success."
Mandan UMC devotes the early portion of its worship services to more contemporary music and younger leadership. It has a young person who organizes and leads its praise team in the opening worship. They sing contemporary music, praise songs, and choruses with instruments. The service gradually moves into more traditional worship forms with hymns from the hymnal.
And how do the people respond? Meissner says that most people appreciate the care and attention given to music selection. The young people are drawn into the service by the music and even though some prefer the contemporary style of music, they still find meaning in traditional worship and in knowing that their congregation's worship is inclusive. The response of older worshippers to the contemporary music early in the service is much the same. The few who just can not adjust to what Meissner calls the "wild music," delay their arrival slightly. Meissner says that it is clear "we are filling them up with the Spirit."
Some Questions for Discussion
How do you pay attention to the worship and music preferences of different generations in your congregation while creating an atmosphere that promotes spiritual growth ?
How many different generations are present together in your worship services? What are the challenges this creates? In what ways is the worship life enriched by this diversity?
What do you do to ensure that people of all ages are being "filled up with the Spirit" during each worship service?
Dean McIntyre is the Directory of Music Resources at the Discipleship Ministries. He can be reached at [email protected].