Five tips for all-age worship
Let’s be honest, creating and leading all-age services is tricky. Having everyone in a service together means that you have many levels of understanding, many ways of processing information and many different lengths of attention span. It can almost feel as though we’ve lost before we’ve started. Here are some tips to help you develop all-age worship so that everyone can take part.
1 Don’t play to the lowest common denominator
All-age services are not children’s services that adults are expected to tolerate, nor are they adult services that children have to sit through. They are for everyone, and as such, should feed people at different places in their spiritual journeys. Don’t pitch your material at the youngest age group or the most basic level. Almost everyone will zone out. Make sure your biblical material and teaching is varied enough for people to engage meaningfully. You know how many children’s animations have jokes and sequences that adults will enjoy? How can you do the same in your all-age worship?
2 Mind your language
It’s very easy to fall into a Christian way of speaking. There’s a kind of Christian shorthand, with phrases that encompass a great deal of theology. But imagine you’re young or new to the church. What would these words mean to you? Chances are that they wouldn’t mean much at all. This might also include the language in your own church. Are there any particular phrases you use to talk about the building, the services or the way you do things?
Think carefully about the words you use. Go through any songs or hymns and consider whether they are accessible to all. This doesn’t mean that you ‘dumb things down’, rather speak in a way that everyone will have a chance of understanding.
3 Embrace everyone’s way of learning
Not everyone learns by hearing, but this encompasses most of the learning in church. How about those who learn by seeing? Or by moving around? Make sure you have ways for all learners to access your Bible passage so that everyone can meet with God.
Also, we don’t express our spirituality in the same way either. Some of us like to sing, others like to use symbols to reflect while still others like to see their faith in action. Does your all-age worship give space for this varied expression of faith? For more about spiritual styles, click here.
4 Play with the space
As far as you can, try to use your space creatively. You might have stackable chairs or immoveable pews – whatever space you have, you can use it differently, changing perspectives and helping people to approach church afresh. And do what you can within the liturgy you use. Include all the elements you need to, but try to make spiritual space in the service too.
5 Get everyone involved
Include people of all ages in planning and delivering the service. Having a diverse planning group means that you have lots of points of view and experience to draw on. A mixed-age planning group will also spark new ideas that you’d never have thought of without them.
Including a range of ages and backgrounds as part of the presentation team will encourage people to take part fully. If people can see people like them leading the congregation in worship, they are going to feel represented and included.