At The Bridge, we practice what we call Inter-Generational Worship. We “practice” it because we are new at this, and we’re figuring it out as we go!
Inter-generational worship is our term for intentionally worshiping together with all ages. That’s right: you will not hear a call for kids to go to Children’s Church during our service (we don’t have Children’s Church), but you will hear plenty of chatter and/or crying babies. Possibly also crying adults, depending on how their week went.
Some people ask why we would choose to worship this way. They may say that kids are distracting, and that kids find worship boring anyway, and that kids don’t understand it all. Here are our answers to those objections:
- Yes, kids are distracting in worship. They are also distracting at dinner, and before bed, and basically any time we adults are trying to do anything. But that doesn’t mean we just lock them out of sight and forget about them. Kids are distracting, period. But we believe that it is worth the distraction to have kids in worship (see below).
- Yes, sometimes kids find worship boring. But let’s be honest, so do adults. Adults still come to worship, though, not because worship is always super-exciting, but because it is important. For our part, we try to make The Bridge as engaging as possible. We won’t always succeed, though, and it’s during those times that adults and kids alike have to hang in there with us. Being present in worship is important not just because we are learning and spending time together (which happens even when things are boring), but also because kids and adults alike bring unique contributions to worship. We need them!
- No, kids don’t understand all of worship. But again, neither do adults. We try to explain everything very carefully and clearly so that first-time guests and kids and adults who may be just out of the loop can all understand and feel included. There are many things about worship that many of us don’t understand, and that’s ok. We can all learn together. The best way to learn is by doing.
OK, but still, what’s the point? Why is it so important to have all ages together in worship?
Church is one of the few places in our society where unrelated kids and adults still spend significant time together. We need to learn from generations that are different from our own. Also, we believe that children do have important insights into who God is, and they bring important questions. We don’t want to miss out on those by being segregated by age! Finally, we believe that Jesus Christ calls us to tear down divisions. We are called to understand ourselves as a unified body, and we can’t be that if we are leaving people out, no matter what our reasoning.
We are committed to this model of worship.
This means that we put a lot of effort into making sure that worship is accessible to everyone. Worship bags are available to kids when they arrive, and children are welcome to use them to draw and create during worship (even if they don’t look like they’re paying attention, they really are). We try to use many different elements during worship– not just words and written materials but also art, music, and tactile learning– to engage as many different learners as possible (and it’s ok if every worship activity doesn’t appeal to every single person. We can each take away what works best for us). We also do our best to avoid making worship reader-centric. Ideally, small children and other non-readers should be able to follow along and worship with us just as easily as experienced readers. And, finally, we teach. We teach and teach and teach. We start with the basics and teach basic church and Biblical concepts, and we teach parents how to teach faith at home, and we teach everyone how to share faith together.
We love all ages and abilities in The Bridge. Every single person is loved and called by God. You are too! Come worship with us, and see what you think.