In 2009 Unity of Music City, Old Hickory, Tenn., created a vision statement with the word “multigenerational.” We were proud of our statement and repeated it every Sunday morning. It felt good but nothing shifted. We did have persons of different ages visit our community, but after a while we never saw them again. Our leadership began asking questions that usually left us focusing on the lack of 20 to 40-year-olds.
As the minister I began in the silence and I also started paying attention to the places where I saw and experienced successful multigenerational activities. Soon I had a huge aha! The beginning of the change had to start with me. I needed to change the way I created the Sunday experience if I expected 20, 30 and 40-year-olds to be interested.
I had a vision of a sanctuary with tables and chairs; kind of a coffee-house setting. People were talking, interacting and sharing ideas during the service. This seemed like a big shift, so I suggested a strategic way to start. Our first shift was some old-fashioned Southern hospitality, coffee, tea and snacks, which congregants were able to take into the service. We purchased 10 tables and placed them in the sanctuary in two different places.
The second shift was creating a different type of service experience. Being in Music City with the talents of Dr. Judy Blackwelder, we added more music: a larger Praise and Worship Team and songs that were “singable” by the congregation, not just soloists. Thirdly, I added a thought-provoking question that people could discuss with their neighbors right in the middle of my lesson.
Finally, I added a new Creative Arts Minister with a team of writers who assist me in creating one service each month. On Easter Sunday we actually had Jesus meeting the Easter Bunny right on our stage. The lesson was entitled “Faith: Jesus and the Easter Bunny.”
If you have the chance, come join us; and as you enter the foyer, grab a cup of coffee or tea. Find a place to sit; chat with an old friend or someone you’ve never met. We are a radiant, rockin’, multigenerational spiritual community. This minister is here to tell you that change is afoot as we experience celebration services that work for all!