A few weeks ago, my church held a combined service. This meant that all congregations, from the 8am traditional service to the 6pm contemporary, met together for a service.

I love these combined services. There is something so wonderful about coming together with Christians of all different ages and backgrounds to pray, worship and learn.

Bible reading generations

Elisabeth Carter says it's a special time when different generations of the church come together. PICTURE: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Normally, I attend the 6pm service. Our service is mostly made up of young adults, with some older people and some young teens. But there are no kids at our service, and very few whole families attend together.

Now that’s not necessarily a problem. But the combined service reminded me just how important it is that where possible, our churches are intergenerational – because that’s what the Body of Christ is like.

The Bible teaches us that when we follow Jesus, we become part of his body (I Corinthians 12), and each of us has a special role to play under Christ’s headship.

That passage in I Corinthians is mostly speaking about spiritual gifts – how we have all been given different gifts and skills to use in the service of the church. But verses 21-26 have stood out to me lately: “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.”

Sometimes, our church congregations are so segregated that it can be almost like we’re saying ‘I don’t need you’ to a part of the body of Christ. But we really do need each other!

I’ve recently started meeting with an older woman from our church who is mentoring me in my face and my life as a Christian woman. As a woman in my 20s I haven’t ever realised until now how much I’ve longed for this sort of supports. My mum is a Christian too and raised me as such but it is so vital to have other older role models to look up to as an example of what it means to follow Jesus at all stages of life.

But I don’t just need the older people, I also need younger people. The faith of children is, as Jesus said, meant to be a lesson for all of us as we seek to follow God with trust and obedience. When we meet without seeing a full cross-section of the generations that make up the body of Christ we can miss out on the lessons that we can learn from older and younger people.

I am so glad that my church has combined services every so often to enable us to all meet together. But I know that I am going to be looking for more opportunities to meet with people of different ages and stages to me. There’s so much that I can learn from the broader body of Christ – I really need all of them.

How could you connect with the broader body of Christ in your church?