Public Worship: Unity
A Man for All Generations
A Life Lesson from a Remarkable Day
Friday, February 10, 2017 9:30AM:
He leads worship for the Senior Chapel at a megachurch. A Baby Boomer, he is not really of their generation—they are 15- 20 years older—the generation between his parents, the Builders, and his generation, but he knows and loves their songs.
That same Friday 12:15PM:
He sits on an informal panel with a high school band director friend giving a last listen to her students about to compete in solo and ensemble competition. Several of the students have been under his instruction for several weeks. He has sought to draw them out and give them structures of thought and disciplines of practice that will lead to better musicianship.
The story is of one man, 67 years of age, working successfully with the elderly and those in their teens on the same day. How is this possible? Everything in our current society says that one has to be young to work with young people and that the elderly are of little interest to the young
In each case there is a significant bridge, a common interest that bridges the age gaps.
- With the Senior Saints, the common interest is the Lord Jesus Himself.
- With the teen-aged musicians, the common interest is learning to play music.
There is another bridge in both cases—genuine affection. This man loves his elders and he is affectionately drawn to young musicians and their teachers.
I want to be that man!
Today I was that man, a man for all generations. This is my story! Forgive me for the third person treatment. I am so moved by the experience, I hesitate to tell the story in first person.
There Is Something Significant for Worship Leaders
I feel a deep move of the Spirit of God in my heart telling me to pay attention to this day. The Spirit is saying, “To lead people in worship, you have to love them.” Worship Leaders, hear this word! To lead people in worship is an act of love. Pastors, bearing a deep responsibility to the whole church, are connected to all the generations within the Body. Worship Leaders must learn from the task of the pastor—they must love the people in the congregation—not just their own age group but those younger and those older.
The Demographic Reformation.
The Protestant Reformers transformed worship by returning it to the people according to the truth of the Scriptures and the example of the Early Church. This was popular to some and abhorrent to others, but the Reformers operated from the principle of The Priesthood of All Believers. It was a spiritual Reformation, not a popular one. The goal was what I would call Inclusive Worship.
With the best of motives (to win the lost) and the worst of theologies (Worship is a church growth tool.) many of today’s reformers have transformed worship based on surveys of what people want. This leads to a demographic view of the Body of Christ:
- One generation wants this;
- Another generation wants that;
- Church growth happens when leaders decide to love one generation and not the other.
The result is church growth based on division, a demographic reformation. The result is Exclusive Worship: worship that includes some and deliberately excludes others.
Worship Leaders and Lead Worshipers need to be people for all generations.
The Bible calls for unity in the church—not just with isolated verses here and there—it is a major theme of both the Old and New Covenants. For two examples I call on Paul and Jesus:
Ephesians 4:1-6;11-13 NKJV
“…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…”
Paul’s remarkable letter to the Ephesians reminds them that Jesus tore down the walls of hostility between Greeks and Jews to make something new—One Body—the Body of Christ. No doubt this was a result of True Worship, Worship in Spirit and Truth. Paul calls upon these unified saints to maintain their God-given unity through bonds of genuine love. He declares unity to be a process, an ever ongoing process of worship/service, the two-sided coin of Romans 12:1-2, that he declared to be the reasonable thing to do. The truth of unity among cultures must also apply to unity among generations.
John 17:9-12; 20-22 NKJV
“I pray for them…that they may be one as We are. …”I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Jesus prayed his last public prayer for the unbroken bond of the Spirit—unity. His standard is the highest standard of all—the unity of the Trinity—Three Who Are One and One Who Is Three. No one can do the math on the Trinity, for this is a higher truth than mathematics.
Find a Way.
I could live through this remarkable day because my life story has prepared me for it. I was trained as a band director and have led musicians for more than forty years. I know and love the processes of teaching young musicians. Over those same years, I was also a worshiper and a worship leader who knows and loves the songs of previous generations. I have learned to love all the generations within the church. I know the way to be a benefit to these young players and to these elderly worshipers.
I want to be a man for all generations, not just today, but every day. This is a high and holy calling. Allow the Holy Spirit to stir a hunger in your heart to be a person for all generations. I pray you will find a way.
Lord Jesus, you walked this earth as a man for all generations. Little children played in your lap. Elderly saints like Anna and Simeon rejoiced at your birth. You respected your elders and walked among your own generation in strength. Walk the same way in me, making me a person for all generations. You famously invited “Whosoever will” to come. Help never to pare that list down, not even by one name and certainly not by a whole generation. Walk with my steps, touch with my hands, and sing with my voice. Let me live this miracle today. For You, Lord, all for you! Amen.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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