6 Keys to Effective All Age Worship #2 – Make a Meal of It

  1.  Make a Meal of It.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. Psalm 36:8 (New Living Translation)
Sometimes what goes out of the window when we are all together is any kind of balance.  I don’t necessarily mean balance that is about pandering to particular wants (or perceived wants) of different parts of the congregation, I mean make sure that as spiritual food there is balance.  A great healthy, full on, slap up God meal!  Not fluff, not popcorn, not a dumbing down out of the freezer, here is one I made earlier . . . (lets just lob it in the microwave) but a thought through, planned, engaging spiritual MEAL for everyone to get their teeth stuck in to – plenty to chew over and a great mix of ingredients . . . make sure you :: :: Sing with Everything.  Sung worship together can be the high or the low point depending on how we do it.  IF you had managed to get to the Worship for Everyone day . . . I am pretty sure they would have mentioned and modelled that worship for everyone is also worship with everything . . . bringing our whole selves to worship and engaging – singing, dancing, moving . . . the body of Christ actually breaking out with some moves!  With lyrics, can come great sign language or amazing imagery that – for many – it just makes sense to move around and use our bodies to echo the words.  Some great songs also have tunes, melody, rhythm that makes it really hard to sit or stand still . . . move it! :: Pray.  Obviously, we pray when we gather – don’t we?  Maybe for adults this is usually led, maybe for children in their regular groups this is participatory – well, combine the two.  There are SO many ways to engage in prayer . . . reflective action, symbols, multi-media, music, visual aids – get the whole congregation praying – oh, and why not get the whole congregation praying for each other?  Life at school, work, home can have different prayer needs – think of how the lives of those present can shape the “what” of prayer and also the “how”. :: Do Story.  Nothing grips like a good story – and this is not an age thing.  Just look at the success of blockbuster movies – often right across an age range!  what greater blockbuster can we possibly have than the Gospel?  What good news story will be central to your worship – even stories that are hard and have tough things in them can be good news for us – in Christ, what is not redeemed?  Everything has the potential for restoration, forgiveness, new life, resurrection . . . but – don’t just read the story – tell it!  Bring it to life, act it out, bring the drama!  I have done this spontaneously with kids there and then – it takes some confidence and you need to be able to improvise – but this can be great fun – I have also done dramatic readings, they work really well . . . . :: Involve People.  The word “liturgy” literally means the work of the people – so, in what way can worship be what you do together, what you create?  How can the participation of people within the congregation help build and shape the worship – this is about helping ever age play their part.  This will take some thinking – but the effort is worth it.  We value what we make!  Our worship is what we collectively bring, not what a couple of people at the front do to us or on our behalf – get the people involved! :: Connect it all.  This is a skill – there is not denying that!  But, someone who can weave a way through all the parts and bring out how everything hands together – around the particular theme, the Bible text, the season . . . whatever it might be – join some dots.  This is not assuming that people can’t do that – but, different ages and different levels of intellectual and emotional maturity means giving a broad “shape” and creating a sense of journey through the worship can be incredibly helpful.  It is an adventure following Jesus – make it an adventure from start to finish ;-) :: Keep Things Moving.  This is important, partly for the varied attention spans in the room – partly to make space and time for every activity and, it is much easier to keep to time (50 minutes for this kind of worship service is plenty) if you begin bang on time and then keep the content engaging.  I have been in some all age worship where the “notices” take 10 minutes before we have welcomed each other and the presence of Jesus! Distaster bit for #no2 is to REALLY make a meal of it – by that I mean to go over the top.  I have had disasters where the theme has been linked to something contemporary and the ILLUSTRATION I am using (from a film or whatever) becomes the whole.  I sometimes get carried away with humour and then being FUNNY becomes the whole.  I can get carried away with trying to be CLEVER and then that becomes the whole.  We all have our preferred “ways” of engaging – that is why it is such a good idea to have a team doing all age worship, different people bringing in key things we would miss if planning, leading it all ourselves. That’s it – tomorrow, #3. Say One Thing.