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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

My Journey: Our Multigenerational Church

By Nelda Ammons
July 4, 2010

I grew up in Dallas attending a church that averaged about 100 in Sunday School. Our church was unique in that we had two services on Sunday, a midweek service on Wednesday night, and a camp meeting-style church service on Saturday night. Since we were the only church in Dallas that had a Saturday night service, our building was full each week.

We always had visitors. Talented singers, gifted speakers, and often Southwestern Assemblies of God University students from nearby Waxahachie were in attendance on Saturday night.

We also had youth services — called Christ’s Ambassadors meetings — that were held at a different time, had their own leadership, and made young people responsible for the entire service. Yet, even in those separate services, we were learning how to fit into our multigenerational church.

Children’s church was held at the same time as Christ’s Ambassadors but geared toward elementary school children. Children learned songs like “Jesus Loves Me,” “Deep and Wide,” “Zaccheus,” and many more. Bible stories were a major portion of the worship experience.

The beauty of our multigenerational church was powerfully displayed in the three main services. Every age group attended worship services in the main sanctuary. We sang the same songs, listened to the same prayer requests, heard the same testimonies, and heard a message geared for all age groups.

In these services, I learned how to pray by listening to the older people pray. I understood the value of worship as I watched all ages participate in music and singing. Many of the songs we sang taught me about biblical truths. They contained doctrinal statements that gave me a foundation on which to base my faith. I learned the importance of responding to the sermon by going to the altar to pray. Often, I watched as mature Christians prayed with newcomers or those who needed special prayer. The examples I saw helped me know how to respond when I became an adult.

The most awesome things I remember as a child were the answers to prayer. Often men and women requested prayer for jobs. Jobs were next to impossible to find. I took those requests to heart and helped pray for an answer.

During the very next service a person would testify that they found a job the next day and went to work immediately. I was impressed that God answered so quickly. This happened night after night. My childlike faith probably could have believed God for anything. What a heritage.

At other times, people would request prayer for family members who were not Christians. Within a short time, a testimony would be given that a family member had accepted Christ.

One special night the presence of the Lord fell on the children who were in the service. Several began to praise the Lord in tongues. I had not yet received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As others joined the worship, several children went to the altar to pray. Again, I was observing. I thought to myself, If someone would ask me, I’d go to the altar to receive the Holy Spirit. Within minutes an older lady put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Wouldn’t you like to receive the Holy Spirit?” My answer was a quick “yes.”

I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that night. I was 8 years old.

As a teenager, I became part of a girl’s trio. We participated in the youth services and were included in the regular services.

Our altar services brought together children, youth, young married couples, middle-aged people and older people. We were a united multigenerational congregation.

Years have gone by, and I have attended church many hundreds of times. When my husband was an evangelist, we traveled from coast to coast. Regardless of where we were, we observed the beauty of a united multigenerational congregation.

By this time in my life I have been a part of every age group in a typical church. These days, with most groups meeting in different parts of a church for worship, I don’t see the mingling of generations as often as I used to. I miss seeing children worshipping the Lord with tears streaming down their faces. I miss seeing youth lost in prayer as they pray with an unsaved friend.

If we are separated, how do younger people learn to pray? Where do they learn the value of prayer requests and hearing the answers to those prayers? Where are their examples? I believe in multigenerational churches. I was raised in one. I look forward to every opportunity to gather as one church body today.

NELDA AMMONS is the widow of Leon Ammons. They pastored and evangelized in ministry for 56 years. She currently works part time in AG World Missions as an assistant archivist.

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