Visiting churches on holiday during the summer season can mean that you get exposed to more all age services than you might have bargained for. That was my experience this summer. The problem with all age services is often everyone hates them. The young people hate them because they don’t get to go out to their groups and the adults hate them because they feel they are not getting a proper service (normally meaning a lack of a deep sermon.) Parents of younger children hate them because they have to spend the service keeping their little ones quiet and entertained in a restricted area So it was with some trepidation that I offered to lead an all age service this Sunday, as we had decided to honour our sunday school teachers by giving them the month off. But then I found it we were doing a series on the proverbs, and I had a chunk with 60 verses which left me a bit stumped. What would you have done? Here’s what i tried… let me know what you think as I continue to reflect on what would work for a successful all-age service.
10.30am welcome and introduction – Krish
intro included a clip from Apple’s iphone advert “Hello” to introduce the theme of God’s advice for good communication
10.35am My Lips shall praise you
10.39am Let everything that has breath praise the lord
10.42am Teaching block 1
Interactive quiz looking at who in our culture we look to for wisdom and advice… see if you can spot who the following tv personalities are…
Reading: short passage from Proverbs 2 looking at how God’s wisdom works…
10.52am Interview with Jo and Tim
(a new couple in the church who are both medics and have been married for two months).
Colgate or McLeans?
Track or Field?
Phelps or Bolt?
Liverpool or Aresenal?
When I opened it up to the congregation to ask additional questions my son Luke (aged 8 ) asked “Pet or Baby” which got a lot of people laughing!
Serious questions included:
How did you become christians?
How do your jobs require you to use wisdom in how you communicate?
Tim talked about breaking bad news to patients, Jo talked about how to help new mum’s handle expectations.
What were the first words you said to eachother? ( Tim told us his chat up lines…)
At this point the under 5’s went out to another room as creche was available – so the rest of the service was not strictly all-age
10.57am Teaching block 2
I gave out printed out copies of Proverbs 10 to one side of the room and Proverbs 15 to the other side and asked people to discuss in groups (remember our church meets Cafe style around tables) which of the proverbs had to communication. At this point I set off a colouring competition for the very young children:
I gave an on the run commentary on the proverbs that people picked out we talked about the following themes:
1. how to take criticism
2. how to avoid escalating conflict
3. how to think before you speak
all topics I know I need help on!
11.07am Prayer Focus
this was done interactively too – asking people to suggest personal, local and global things to pray for and encouraging people to pray around tables. I gave a disclaimer to people who weren’t comfortable to pray to maybe think about how we can help in some of these situations.
11.12am Song: O for a Thousand tongues to sing
11.17am Teaching block 3
I handed out sheets to help people think about how to apply the teaching we had done today.
We had a good discussion about using email, text and phone conversations in a godly way in light of the proverbs we had looked at.
11.27am Take my life and let it be
11.33am Communion – linking in with the need for good relationships in church and putting things right between us.
11.43am Song: Blessing and Honour
We did over run a little bit and the young people stayed engaged with us. I am hoping the adults learned how to read the proverbs and try and live them out. Some visitors commented on the service being comfortable and welcoming. Another (single) felt that it was too family-focussed. One of my children still complained he had missed his group. How can we get the balance right for everyone?