For some Christians, hearing the words ‘church’ and ‘music’ used together in a sentence can light up their life with joy and hope. But for others, these words have the power to trigger a deep-seated panic. It’s no secret that music ministry has been one of the most contentious church issues in recent times and, in some cases, fear and panic may well be justified. But at its best church music has the potential to be an immense blessing for God’s people as they gather in his name.
Most of us recognise the God-given gift that music can be. Church songs teach us the deep truths of our faith and help us express our unity in Christ. They do this by engaging us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually—often affecting us at a deep and profound level. I mean, how many times have you found yourself facing a hard situation in life and found comfort in the words of one of your favourite church songs? And the blessing of church music extends far beyond the affect of the songs themselves, as music ministry can be an extremely valuable context in which to engage in effective intergenerational ministry.
In his book Think Orange Reggie Joiner observes that, “children learn in the context of relationships, when their lives intersect with the lives of others.” Including young people in the music team at church gives them an invaluable opportunity to engage in such meaningful relationships with older, more mature believers. This relational engagement can go a long way in helping to consolidate their identity as members of the body of Christ.
I remember joining the music team at church as a recently converted teenager. I was so stoked that I was able to combine two of my greatest loves—Jesus and playing guitar. But looking back now, I can see how being a part of the music team was influential to my faith development. Though I really loved and benefited significantly from going to youth group, it was in the music team where I served and fellowshipped with men and women up to 40 years older than me, who included me as an equal member of the church and as their brother in Christ. It was the music team where I had true humility modelled to me as legitimately fantastic musicians sought to glorify Christ with their gifts, rather than themselves. These elders taught me how to engage in rigorous theological evaluation as we discussed song selection together, and I got first-hand experience in pursuing team unity as we sought to both play in unison and express our unity in Christ.
The relationships that I forged on that music team continue to be some of the most meaningful ones I have with my church family. But even as valuable as these kinds of relationships are, intentionally intergenerational music ministry can be even more valuable in the life of a young person.
In his book Adoptive Church, Chap Clark recognises that, “relational connectedness on its own is not enough to convince a young person that they are welcome and that they are vital members of a community.” He goes on to argue that what really makes young people feel connected in the body of Christ is when they are empowered “to participate and contribute to the life of the Body.” This is why music ministry is such a powerful tool for intergenerational ministry—not only does it afford young people the opportunity for significant relationship, but it gives them “contributing purpose.”
The opportunity to serve in such a hands-on way like music ministry has the power to facilitate a young person (or anyone for that matter!), transforming them from a consumer to an active servant within the body of Christ. This gives them a real sense of purpose and value within the community, that encourages ownership and helps consolidate a young person’s identity as a member of the body of Christ.
So why not be intentional towards making your church’s music team an effective intergenerational ministry? Aim to give both younger and older disciples the opportunity to rub shoulders with each other by seeing that a wide range of people are included on the team. Encourage the older members to take initiative in discipling the younger members as both Christians and musicians. Point the younger ones to the example set by their elders of what it looks like to be an adult follower of Christ. And seek to consolidate young Christian musicians as members of Christ’s body, by giving them the opportunity to use their gifts to participate in and contribute to building the church.
 Joiner, Reggie. Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, (2009) p.191
 Clark, Chap. Adoptive Church: Creating an Environment Where Emerging Generations Belong. Baker Academic, Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI (2018) p.66
 Clark (2018), p.66