All-age services: Facebook live

21 September 2020

Whatever your all-age services looks like - back in church, still on Zoom or something else, there are some principles which can guide us as we plan all age services that feed our families and congregations.

Many of us offer all-age services, whether in person or online. In our Lunch with Rachel webinar for children’s, youth and families leaders, Rachel tackled the big question of how to do that well. (This was recorded in September 2020, as many churches were hovering between lockdown and a return to normal.)

At times, you may decide that a child-centric service is exactly right for you at the moment. But if you are going to go ‘all age’, you will be looking at creating something where everyone – adults and kids – authentically meet with God. Discovering how to do this well can feel like learning to balance on a balance board – a series of trials and adjustments until you find a way where everyone can meet with God and is challenged and fed.

You can skip down to read our brief notes or watch the recording here, which we would really recommend.

There are three steps to creating an all-age service.

1. What’s the one thing I want to teach and how do I illustrate it?

Often we pick topics or stories because we think it will work for the children. But instead, pick a topic and scripture that matters to the season we are in. The easiest way to do this is to ask the question: what does every adult and child need to know in this season? This makes it relevant for everyone: for example, who is God when everything’s changing. Then figure out how to teach it well.

  • Think about a movie like Pixar’s Cars 3: there’s something for both kids and for adults in this.
  • To make it work well for all ages, only do one jump and really explore it. The one jump is ‘this is the scripture and this is what it means’. This works because the more jumps you make, the more people you will lose.

2. How can I help people communicate with each other? Empower everyone’s voices

The joy of all age is you can hear God in other people. You can use lots of voices from the front, but you can also facilitate their voices with each other. Ways to do this include:

  • Turn to the person next to you and ask …
  • Share a story about a time …

3. How do you want them to meet with God about that? Give them side by side encounters that they can take into other bits of life.

Help all generations learn alongside each other. Don’t just say: ‘you could try this at home’; rather let them try it in the service. For example, whenever you feel this, do that – then guide them through the experience and remind them that they can do this at home whenever they like.

Questions Rachel answered:

Here are the questions Rachel answered live, with quick notes of her answers:

Our kids were used to having lots of freedom to move around the building. We worship in our hall. How can we keep young children in their seats without coming across as harsh and controlling with lots of rules.

  • Show them where their ‘yeses’ are: you can’t do this – but you CAN do that!
  • Decide on your language for explaining it
  • Give them an explanation – do a video explaining the reason that families can watch together.
  • Give them things to fiddle with as an alternative …
  • We’ll give you reminders …

How can we get church / worship leaders to be willing to explore this balance of finding ways for all ages to worship together?

  • What are the easy wins? Trying to move them when they can’t imagine it can be hard.
  • Think about ‘what’s the fear?’ This will help you know how best to work together.
  • Have a mindset to come alongside and serve them.

We’re looking at going to a all age gathering. Looking at mentoring, all age preaching/leading, creative worship. How do we get a two way conversation instead of older speaking to younger that makes young people and children feel as an add-on or less part of the gathering?

  • Change from the idea of teaching to the idea of exploration – this makes it clear that everyone has something to bring to the table.
  • Use questions, for example the sort that Godly Play uses so people wonder together.
  • Encourage activities that need a diverse group to be able to do it well.

We have got into the rut in our online services of this is the kids’ slot/activity and now here’s the adults’ bit while the kids get on with their activity. When we are filming bits separately and editing together it can be hard to change it so that the whole service is all age and engages all. It’s soooooo hard!!! Adults switch off during the kids’ activity when I’m trying to hard to say look everyone can do this not just the kids.Is there a way to try to change this? (bear in mind I get no say in topic or order of service just get told this is the theme please come up with something interactive).

  • Think about the kids’ activity: can you make it so engaging adults want to join in with (for example a science experiment or magic … ) rather than a story or quiz that the adults are quick to ignore?
  • Use film clips that aren’t childish
  • Hook them in early – as you introduce it don’t say ‘this is the kids’ slot’ but’ ‘tell someone a story of … ‘, for example.

While we’re there – any ideas for showing them the yes in not being able to join in the worship songs if we are sticking with a ‘time of sung worship’?

  • If you can hum that is a possibility. For over 7s, singing in your head might work.
  • What are the yeses … for example, listen to the words and when you hear something you really agree with nod or raise your hand.
  • Frame it differently: this song is about telling God he is powerful: as you listen you can sing along in your head, you can say yes to the bits you agree with, or show God in your head the times you knew he was powerful.

What are your thoughts on all age outdoor church?

  • It’s great! It may be like a service outdoors, or it may be a walk and talk with questions – creating experiences that are less like a service and more church like in terms of a community of people discussing and learning together.

Any good material out there for all age worship?

  • It’s hard to recommend any because all-age worship is unique to the individual communities and their make up.
  • Try asking others who are producing material, or see what strikes you as a good topic and follow the guidelines above to construct your service.

Teenagers? Help! The keen not to socialise / engage / be spotted / go to groups ones. How do we help them be part of it while they’re pretending not to be there and hoping no-one speaks to them?

  • Teenagers often don’t like change … so it’s okay if you don’t want to join in, as long as you’re here, that’s okay.
  • What is them just needing space to learn to be in that space again?
  • Check in with them after – how did that feel?

This is the link to the Facebook Live Rachel mentioned on having productive conversations with leaders.

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