His Faithfulness Is to All Generations...

Ok, so it's been half a year since I posted, and another half a year before that one. Let's try again.

Lindsey and I (and Jude) recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend Sovereign Grace Ministries' "Worship God" conference. We heard teaching from John Piper, Bob Kauflin, C.J. Mahaney, Thabiti Anywabwile, Keith & Kristyn Getty, and many others. We had the privilege of being led in congregational praise by 6 different teams of leaders from Sovereign Grace churches. We each attended 4 breakout sessions (or "seminars") addressing various topics related to corporate worship. It was encouraging and equipping all the way around.

The theme of the conference was "From Generation to Generation," which focused on passing on the values and skills of biblical worship to the next generation(s) of leaders and worshipers. Bob Kauflin preached an excellent message entitled "The Future of Worship" based on Psalm 78. He has posted much of the material from this message in a recent blog entry at Worship Matters. One particular portion of this message/blog I have found especially poignant and important. I'm pasting this portion of the text in italics below (and I've bolded one line of central importance):

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How many of our thoughts about music and worship revolve around what we like, what we prefer, what interests us, and what we find appealing? And how often is that attitude passed on to the next generation, who then focus on what appeals to them?

I suspect this may be one of the reasons churches develop separate meetings for different musical tastes. In the short run it may bring more people to your church. But in the long run it keeps us stuck in the mindset that musical styles have more power to divide us than the gospel has to unite us.

How do we pass on biblical values of worship to coming generations when we can’t even sing in the same room with them?

We have to look beyond our own generation, both past and future, if we’re to clearly understand what God wants us to do now. Otherwise we can be guilty of a chronological narcissism that always views our generation as the most important one. As Winston Churchill insightfully wrote, “The further back you can look, the further forward you can see.”

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I think this is perhaps one of the most important messages for leaders and worshipers of our generation(s) to hear. I place a high value on multiple venues of congregational worship being identical in both content and style for this reason (and others). When we decided two years ago at BridgePoint to hold two separate worship services with precisely the same content and style, I believe we expressed the importance of intergenerational expressions of worship.

We have Bible study groups for men and women that enable Christians of different generations to learn and grow together, each benefiting from the other in unique ways.

And yet I'm sure there is more that could be done (in any church, not just ours) to emphasize the importance of intergenerational experiences of God and expressions of worship.

What do you think? Can you think of some ways that this intergenerational dynamic of discipleship and worship could be enhanced at BridgePoint? Do you agree that this is an important message for Christians today? If not, why not?


Rebekah said...

I think it is inter-generational worship is how God designed it. So many times in the Old Testament we hear of rejoicing and dancing and singing among the Israelites, and it seems to imply a unified congregation that spans multiple generations. I can't recall off the top of my head anywhere where it talks about the older generation worshiping to their style of music and the younger, to theirs. In today's world, if we are to be a unified body, we need the wonderful, thought provoking words of the hymns, along with the modern style of 'heart' provoking music. Just my 2 pesos...

kyle carlson said...

Thanks for chiming in, Becky.

I agree that the biblical picture of the worshiping community is an assembly of all men, women and children (Neh. 8:1-8 is a good example of this type of gathering.). That being said, I'm not sure there's anything inherently wrong with targeting specific ages or demographics with ministry emphases in the church. I do think, though, that the gathered worship of the church should be multi-generational, or we're not really ever together as a whole body at any time.

I'm not sure how much you intended to insinuate with your categorizing of hymns as "thought provoking" and modern songs as "heart provoking," but I would argue that neither distinction is really necessary. Many old hymns are both rich in theological truth and stirring in feelings of devotion and consecration to God. Many modern songs accomplish the same thing. On the other hand, just as there are many modern songs which are theologically meager but devotionally strong, there are hymns about which we could say the same thing.

My point is this: In our gathered worship, we should include songs from multiple generations (e.g., songs written in 1500 and songs written in 2009) which are BOTH theologically rich (i.e., "thought provoking") AND devotionally strong (i.e., "heart provoking"). I'm not sure that you were actually making that distinction, but I thought I'd use your words as a springboard to make this important point.