For several years, I have been compiling a list of top CCLI songs and the best keys for congregational singing. This listing is referenced by leaders in many countries in determining keys that will engage the congregation best in singing their praises.
Some time ago I began adding some additional data without really shining light on it related to intergenerational worship. I see a tremendous move of churches to bringing together the generations in worship–finding a place where young and old can worship together with passion. Much prayer and intentionality must go into being successful in this area. I speak much about this in our worship leader training retreats.
Some musical components of success for bringing together congregations of various generations
Let’s look at some of the musical factors that will help you successfully bring the generations together in worship:
One critical piece of success is SONG SELECTION. How do we select from the vast field of modern worship songs those songs of excellence which can best engage people with more contemporary song preferences AND those with more traditional song preferences? In my listing of top songs, I now have a subjective, sortable column that ranks songs on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) for their intergenerational appeal–modern songs that seem to be tracking well with people with more traditional preferences. I would suggest songs with a score of 4-5 may be a good starting place for songs of common ground. Additionally, look for great hymn arrangements that maintain the words and melodies of hymns but put them in a more modern context.
Singing in keys attainable by the average singer is extremely important in engaging all generations in worship. Read more here.
Another key to success I have written about extensively is how we introduce new songs and the need for the congregation to be familiar with the songs through repetition and paring down the size of your song lists. I encourage you to read through the series on SONGS FOR WORSHIP to learn more about really engaging congregations of all ages to worship. How we introduce the songs, how we repeat them with intentionality and how many songs are on our song list are all key areas in this series that will help you with intergenerational worship success by helping each person in your congregation make the song their own expression of worship. Read more here on introducing and repeating songs. Learn more about how song lists can affect familiarity here.
CHECK OUT THE SONG RECOMMENDATIONS
I encourage you to check out the list of songs. Click on the MultiGen column to sort from 5 to 1 and take a look at the songs that come up. These may be great songs for you to introduce to your congregations. Be sure to sing the songs in the recommended keys as well. Singing too high, as often is the practice, can be a huge turnoff for so many.
If you have found a song that seems to track well with young and old, add it to the comments below to share with others.
I believe God is pleased when we worship together–young and old. As worship leaders, we need to strive to create an environment that helps facilitate passionate, participatory worship by all generations.