Songs of Faith – An All-Age, Cross†Generational Reformation Celebration
Worship leaders and Christian education coordinators – be courageous! Combine the ideas offered below and create something new. If education hour is the same time as worship, suspend Sunday school so all ages may gather in worship. Bring elements of worship into learning, bringing all ages together for a multi-generational, faith-sharing time. Combine both and create one “Cross†Over” seamless experience for a Reformation Celebration! Incorporate these ideas through-out the 500th Anniversary year of the Reformation.
Ideas for worship and learning
Many believe that our hymns often divide the generations when it comes to worship. A multi-generational celebration brings the generations together to share the treasures of faith through songs of faith. When communities of faith bring adults together with children of all ages, weaving together the elder’s wisdom and the child’s wonder – the experience is richer for everyone. Stories are shared, faith is nurtured, and authentic, caring relationships flourish.
The Singing Church
Since the time of Martin Luther, the Lutheran Church has been known as “the singing church.” Worship and gatherings have been enriched by a collection of liturgies, choral works, hymns and spontaneous singing through which faith is expressed. In addition to many other reforms, the Reformation restored the church’s songs to the people and established a rich musical heritage, which continues today.
Martin Luther loved music and was responsible for writing many hymns. His most famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” for which he wrote both the text and music, is often sung on Reformation Sunday.
Invite 5-7 people, representing a minimum of three generations and four decades, to form a team to plan and host the celebration. Include voices from various ethnic groups, youth, young adults and older adults in the congregation. If you have more than one service, include worshippers from each service. In everything – think about the guest for whom this might be a first experience entering your faith community, let alone your specific faith tradition.
Display of Hymnals
Create a display of hymnals or catechisms that reflect your congregation and denomination’s history. Engage members of the congregation in collecting and creating the display.
♦ Since hymnals in general reflect the history and tradition of the churched, especially the Civic and Booster Generations, and older Boomers, be creative about how you will represent the devices Gen X and Millennials most commonly use to listen to faith-based music. (Add an iPod, Smart Phones etc. to the display).
♦ Invite individuals to bring personal hymnals, old “Radio” song books, or song books from camp.
♦ Plan a time during worship or the Cross+Gen learning time outlined below, for sharing of stories and memories associated with the hymnals and with attending catechism classes. Ask elders about the “exam!”
Plan to sing favorites from the various hymnal eras, or each generation’s and ethnic group’s favorite hymns. Include timeless children’s songs, one can sing by heart.
Invite each generation or decade to sing a verse of “A Mighty Fortress.” Need accompaniment? Here is a spine tingling full organ offering including the words.
If you are a smaller worshipping community with few voices to carry the tune, then use this goose-bump producing full organ “sing-a-long” with stunning artwork to accompany the words.
“Songs of Faith” Exchange for All Ages
A Cross†Gen Gathering takes the place of Sunday school, adult education and age segregated learning time. Consider an extended celebration time with food etc.
Offer child-care for those 3 and younger, as an option. Or create a cozy corner in the large group gathering space, with pillows, books and quiet toys.
Be intentional with invites and offering of rides to elders. The meaningfulness of this gathering increases with a broad representation of generations, especially elders and wisdom keepers of the congregation!
Choose from the following menu of ideas based on the time you have allowed for interaction between the generations.
† Circle of Blessing
♦ First, honor the oldest one present! Give him or her the title of “Wise Elder(s)” for the day. Or convey the titles of “Honorary Martin and Katie.” Invite everyone to make a circle beginning with the elders just honored. ♦ Invite those who are in their 90’s and 80’s to stand, as they are able, and begin to make a circle. Honor them for their faithfulness and knowing hymns by heart! ♦ Next ask those who are 60’s-70’s to stand and continue forming a circle. Continue inviting each decade to join in the circle. Finally invite those ten and younger. ♦ Together sing a robust verse of “A Mighty Fortress.” (project words or share hand-outs) ♦ Teach and sing this fun tribute to Marty Luther – sung with gusto to the tune of The Ballad of Davy Crockett:
Born in Eisleben Germany,
Wrote against the pope when he was 33,
Nailed 99 to the Wittenberg Door,
And set us free, forever-r more.
Marty, Marty Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church!
† Small Group Conversation Time
The goal is to form small groups consisting of five people of varied ages and generations.
Count off around the Circle of Blessing by the total number present, divided by 5. [Ex: 100 present, count off by 20] The youngest of children (4 or 5 and below) are counted as one unit with their parent/care-giver. All like numbers gather in a small group. (Should be no more than 5 in each group). Each group should now have at least 4 or possibly 5 decades represented. Pull chairs closely together so all can easily hear. (Tables create an obstacle for hearing and sharing.)
Invite each person within their circle to:
♦ Share one’s name. ♦ A favorite hymn, camp song, gospel song, song of faith. (For children, “Your favorite song about Jesus?”) ♦ If grew up in the church, what color is your favorite hymnal? ♦ For those without a history in the church – share name of a favorite gospel singer.
♦ On what device do you typically listen to or play music? (Radio/computer/smart phone/iPod)
♦ When not at church, do you sing or listen to Christian music? Gospel Songs? Spirituals? Other… Where? When?
† Hymn Sing by Generation & Culture
This is a fun and especially meaningful interaction. Plan at least an hour – do not rush.
♦ Gather folks in age-related groups, by generation or same decade. If a smaller congregation you might combine two decades or generations to make a viable small group. Invite generational groups with more than 12-14 in them, to divide into 2 or more smaller groups.
♦ Have children ages 10-19 in one group. Those 9 and younger go to another room or space with several older youth or adults with whom they are familiar. If few young children present, then all ages, 3-17, form one group.
♦ Each person within the small group shares a favorite hymn or song of faith. (To the children, “Favorite song about Jesus or a VBS or Camp Song?”) What are the actions?
♦ When individual sharing within the group is complete, each group selects one song/hymn that they believe represents their generation. Invite individuals from ethnic specific backgrounds and cultures to select a favorite song from their generation and tradition. Give the groups several minutes to quietly practice the song they each have chosen. (You may have elders among you who remember hymns in a language they spoke or heard as children, but no longer use in daily conversation. Invite these individuals to offer a song they know.)
♦ Call everyone back together as one large group.
♦ Invite each age or generation specific group to stand, if able, and sing their chosen song for the entire gathering. Begin with elders and move to the children. Be prepared for tears when hearing the eldest among you sing – most often the group is primarily women singing their favorite song – by heart and with heart.
Conclude with a song everyone knows. Or ask each group to create new words to a familiar tune, Amazing Grace works well. Commission a new Song of Faith – for your congregation’s Generations of Faith. Make Marty Luther, proud!
Blessings my friends as the Holy Spirit blends and lifts your voices high!
This is a “CROSS↑OVER” Resource. The term CROSS†OVER means two or more things brought together for a new purpose. When wearing a crossover shoe one can transition seamlessly from walking to jogging into aerobics. A crossover car features the best of a passenger car and a sport utility vehicle allowing more flexibility. This resource is exactly that…the *Wisdom of the Elder and the “Wonder of the Child” interacting in the same space, sharing the same worship and learning experience – being the Body of Christ.