Oh No! Not All-age Worship!
Shock and horror! That's often the reaction of people when they discover that I lead all-age worship at Spring Harvest, Easter People and most Sundays each year but this is a chance to keep-fit and Praise the Lord all at the same time! It should be time to laugh, pray, have fun and learn, but most important, a time to worship together as the family of God. Often people’s experience of all-age worship isn’t good, as it’s can be aimed either too much at the children or too much for the adults.
If the church describes itself as the ‘family of God’ then we must meet together, otherwise the family will break down. For most of the week we all go our separate ways with children going to school and most adults going off to work. I’ve heard people say that they don’t come to church because they want to be with their families on Sunday! We need to take these comments seriously and be a place where all the family feels welcome and engaged together, enjoying each other's company! We need to think of ways in which we can become a family for those who have no family.
Is it biblical?
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:1-9 and Colossians 3:18-21 spoke directly to the children, parents, slaves, and their masters, wives, and husbands. Yes they were all there! All of them gathered together as the family of God!
How did Jesus do it?
At the feeding of the five thousand there were a multitude of people. We know there were a boy, mothers and their children, teenagers, adults and the religious leaders. He didn’t turn any away he spoke to them all together! He used picture language (new wine skins, salt, light etc); he used stories (parables); but these stories were far more than a nice little story: these were ‘life changing’ stories that all ages could relate to. He told the story of the lost sheep to adults, not children (but they love it too). These stories were simple but powerful!
Those outside the Kingdom hear all things by the means of parables (Mark 4:11).
All-age/family services do often attract more outsiders than other services. When I lead an all-age service the Bible story is the main ingredient. When you are preparing the service read the story over and over again and see what God is teaching through it, then prepare the whole service around it.
Don’t leave it to the minister!
All-age Worship should be led by all ages, not just the minister. Why not put together an ‘All-age Worship’ Team and include all ages on the team? Choose people who have a real heart for reaching all-ages! You’ll find wonderful ideas developing as you work together.
Here are a few ideas you could include:
~nnA time of Praise and Worship: Do include children’s songs. Children need to be engaged – Matthew 21:16 ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise!’ Also look for simple adult worship songs with simple tunes and not too wordy or complicated for the children to understand. Use both lively and quieter songs. Remember many children can’t yet read and others are still learning. Have a variety of simple songs and hymns.n~
~nUsing the Bible. Of course include a Bible reading but don’t make it too long! Let’s think about the way we present the Bible passage: we want the children of all ages to be engaged during this very important part of the service. Bible Memory Verses are not just for children! Why not take one of the verses out of the passage and learn it together as a congregation? You could turn it into a song or rap. Or write it on cards removing words as you go along. It’s important for all ages (adults too!) to learn verses from the Bible. Recap the verse again the following week so that it really sinks in. n~
~nTell the Bible story in a dramatic way. Make it more than just a nice story! Jesus used stories/parables to speak to all-ages. Through these stories he taught many spiritual truths. (Check out my website www.johnhardwick.org.uk for notes on story telling and other resources).n~
~n‘Hot Spot’ Interview / testimony time. Ask a member of the congregation if you can put them on the ‘hotspot’ and interview them during the church service. You could choose different ages for different occasions. People are interested in people. Try to make the interview fun and interesting. Have a variety of questions - not just fun but how the person came to faith.n~
~nDrama Sketches can be a powerful and fun way to communicate. Gather people with the talent, help them see that this is a real ministry and encourage them to practise weekly!n~
~nTheme illustrations: Use objects, or people doing visual things, to help illustrate the theme.n~
~nPuppet Sketches will help illustrate the theme. These do not have to be complex. A group of cuddly toys acting out a Bible story can work well. Puppet teams are becoming very popular. Check out www.onewayuk.com for ideas.n~
~nCreative and interactive prayers ideas: Prayers can be led in many different ways. You could lead a prayer and get the congregation to join in on a certain line. You could choose an object that may remind you of something that’s happened or a place or person. Ask people to write a prayer request on a piece of paper and then pass it on.n~
~nReport: Ask the children, teenagers, and adults to report what they’ve been up to in their groups; this will help us relate to one another. Encourage creative reporting.n~
~nHave a quiz: It’s good to recap teaching from previous weeks. You could have children against adults to see who has taken in most from their teaching groups!nn~
Don’t give-up! Be creative! Learn to appreciate and love one another.