1. Make it open
Every week the people who walk through your Church's front door are all at different places in their journey of faith. This is doubly so at Christmas. For some this may be the first time they have set foot in a Church, and for others this could be a yearly tradition; visiting the Church at Christmas before going home for Christmas dinner or a nap.
The most important thing before you jot down a single idea is to make sure that is accessible to all. You really don’t need to worry about boring people who have heard the nativity story upteen times. After all, just because the good news never changes doesn’t make it any less good. So, put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s never been to church before. What would seem strange, or may not make sense immediately. It’s a hard task to imagine being someone new to Church if Church all you’ve ever know, but it is vital when reaching new people.
2. Make it clear
Your all-age service needs a theme that is immediately graspable. If it is about salvation, make sure that every element points towards that, and repeat that one word frequently. You want to keep the language as basic as possible. Don’t say with 20 words what you can say with 5.
3. Make it visual
What is clear to some people isn’t to others. Some of the people who will come to your Church over Christmas will be visual learners, and some will be auditory learners. Some will want to think, and some will want to do. This goes for both adults and children, that the ways we learn differs from person to person. You want to employ as many of these as possible.
Want to reach Kinaesthetic learners? Perhaps engage them with a craft, or something to hold onto during the service. This can be a cross, decoration, or memento that relates to your message. For the visual, try using video clips and pictures that demonstrate your message.
The more mediums you use, the more accessible it is to the people you’re trying to reach.
4. Make it fun
I know, this sounds blindingly obvious. So obvious you might expect me to say ‘and don’t poison their teas and coffees’. But remember, fun is relative. I am reminded of that near-every time I tell a pun; that I find them a lot funnier than anyone ever does. What you find fun may not be what the average Joe off of the street finds fun. So, I can’t stress this enough - NO CHRISTIAN IN-JOKES. If you have to have grown up in Church to get the humour, you are excluding a lot of people, no matter how smart the joke is. Not everyone will get a good joke, but a bad pun will at least unite the people in groans
I know I am becoming a broken record, but keep it accessible, even the lighter side of the service.
5. Make it participatory
This one is for the worship leaders out there (and you know who you are). Just because you can sing in a pitch-perfect high-G, or are up to date with the latest songs from Bethel or Hillsong UNITED, doesn’t mean that the families straining to keep up with you are. Keep the music singable (even if it is a little uncomfortable for you), simple, and familiar.
And alternately, there is a place for old hymns, but the language and connotations of classics will most likely be lost on new families. For Christmas time, stick to a mix of carols and relatively accessible, contemporary songs.
6. Make it memorable
If you stick to Point 2, that you will have no problems here. Repeating the core message of your service will make it accessible, and help it stick. Have a key phrase that, when quizzed, anyone could repeat back to you at the end.
If your service disappears from the mind as soon as the people get back home, then something is missing.
7. Make yourself known
The name on the sign doesn’t represent your church, as much as a name-tag doesn’t really represent the person serving you in a shop or restaurant. This is especially the case if your Church is named Saint Mary’s or All Saints, of which there are several hundred in the UK alone.
Just as you would introduce yourself when meeting someone at an interview, or on a first date, let the people new to your Church know who you are. It isn’t vain. It’s communicating who are as a Church, and why you’re here. It is a vital step in building a relationship with new visitors. The best times for this are at the very beginning, during the notices, and at the very end of the service. It may seem like a lot of time to spend talking about your Church, but if you want to be accessible, make sure you are clear.
You don’t need to lay out your mission statement, just repeat the name of your Church, what you do as a Church, and how people can find out more. Simple.
For detailed plans, craft, story and worship ideas, check out our Service Resources department. There you’ll find books like All Resource Christmas from Scripture Union that is filled with thoughtful and accessible ideas for running a memorable and engaging service for all ages.
November 7th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon