Martin Luther King, Jr. famously described Sunday morning at eleven o’clock as the “most segregated hour of America.” It’s nearly 60 years later and not much has changed.

A lot of churches separate Student Worship on Sunday Morning because their morning worship and teaching is not appealing to high school students, so they offer a separate service for the students. This is a real problem.

I’ve seen churches that acknowledge that their Sunday morning worship and teaching isn’t attractive to high school students, so they offer a separate worship service for the students. My sense is this is one of the primary contributing factors to students leaving the church after they graduate from high school.

For four years, they’ve been trained to appreciate a separate worship experience with the style of music they appreciate and teaching relevant to their lives, and then when they graduate we assume somehow that they’re going to sacrifice their style of music and relevant teaching to worship with older adults. We’re setting them up for defeat. We’re also encouraging segregation in our churches.

Church strategist Tony Morgan

It is more than just the high school students. It is middle school– it is millennials– it is seniors, everyone has their own special service– and it is eliminating unity and sharing of lives. Churches full of people who could be mentoring and influencing the next generation, yet every connection they have to the church is spent with people of their same generation.

So we want to do something different

Our church was functionally pretty traditionally, and something needed to change. So our leaders hired a younger lead pastor who had a desire to invest in and build a multigenerational church.

The next thing is that we decided to integrate our worship experiences for adults and students on Sunday mornings. There will still be a youth group, just not on Sunday morning… Sunday offers the same opportunity for students as adults—the chance to attend a service and serve in a service.

In addition to bringing the students in– we needed to make it accessible to them. The truth is: if you can keep a teen’s attention, you won’t have trouble keeping adult’s attention. So our services are designed for everyone to be there. It requires a lot of intentionally choosing to prefer one another. Intentionally playing a mix of music that has broad appeal. Intentionally developing a teaching style that has broad appeal.

Rather than having young adults in the modern worship services, middle-age adults in the contemporary worship services and seniors in the traditional worship services– we are mixing it up. We don’t want segregation!

Secondly, we refuse to give up on my kids’ and grandkids’ generations. The next generations is much more diverse– they are not going to embrace segregated churches.