Engaging with the whole range of ages in a church service is possibly the biggest challenge for any worship leader.
Reaching and involving the youngest and newest, and the most life and spiritually experienced - without alienating any of them, is a hard task for even the most resourceful church leader.
Pleasing all of the people all of the time
A church congregation, especially in a large and growing church, can have a range of ages as wide human longevity itself.
Attention spans will vary from the entire service to a mere fraction of its length. Experience, language skills and even physical endurance combine into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to pleasing all of the people all of the time.
Where to start your All Age planning
There’s basically two approaches to all age worship. Either put together a programme with a separate something for each age group, or devise a programme where everything suits everyone. With the first approach, at any one moment the majority of the congregation will have turned off. And with the second, it's really hard to be that inclusive.
The secret might be involvement. Rather than trying to speak to the different age groups, get the different age groups to do the speaking. That is, share out the leadership so that different ages are seen to be up there at the front working together as equals.
Involvement is the key to success
Anything with the word ‘all’ works better with a little tolerance. If each member of the congregation accepts they’re not the only person in the room, there's a better chance they'll feel included and satisfied. That means training the congregation in what they can expect to get from all age worship and and what they might be expected to give.
Satisfying all age worship does require perseverance. The most successful all age worship leaders keep their congregations engaged in the process. When it works, all age worship reinforces the network of relationships. Younger members of the church family grow as older members reinvest their experience in the life of the church.
Tried and tested resources and ideas
There's a huge amount of material supporting all age worship - which is a sign of how important the idea is, and how difficult it can be to do well. The good news is that there’s probably something out there that’s been tried, tested and found to work in a church similar to yours.
All age worship programmes are provided by most well known suppliers of worship resources. Popular brand names include the 'Messy Church' series by Lucy Moore, as well as a books and resources by authors like Nick and Claire Page, Nick Harding and Tim Storey.
Popular and proven All Age materials
Some all age worship resources provide a programme for the whole church year. 'Creative Ideas for All-Age Church', by Karen Bulley, includes 12 through the year programmes for informal church services and special events. Others, such as 'Family' and 'Celebrations' by Nick and Claire Page, offer ready to use resources for themed worship services.
With their characteristic jigsaw puzzle cover designs, Bob Hartman's series tells how church services for all ages can be shaped by the Bible passage you want to teach. Well established brands such as Scripture Union provide comprehensive resources for linking specialist childrens and youth programmes into all inclusive all age services.
Quick Guide to all age worship resources
What are they?
- Collections of ideas, themes, songs and more to engage the whole church.
- Inclusive, creative and relevant worship to build relationships within the church.
- Resources for the whole church year, Christian fesitvals and special events.
What will they do for me?
- Include all ages of church membership in active, meaningful worship.
- Help you build a leadership team that includes all ages and life experience.
- Strengthen the relationships between younger and older church members.
March 4th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison