Sunday, January 20, 2008

Family Services

Fascinating discussion thread on Family Services/All-Age worship opened up by Dave Walker, yielding a completely unscientific, but very educational cross-section of opinion. Commenter 11 does a good job of getting the debate back on track, but it's worth reading, just for people's insights and reactions.

A helpful place to go is Barnabas in Churches (not to be confused with the Barnabas Fund, who campaign on behalf of the persecuted church). Here's their checklist:

1. What to avoid?
All-age worship is not …
- entertainment
- a potpourri of contributions
- just for the children; or just for the adults
- just for the outsider or the insider
- a Sunday school with adults present
- a standard service but with children present

2. What do we need?
for all-age learning…
- involvement, inclusion, intelligible language
- all the senses, all the richness of our world-wide faith
- one theme, explored throughout, in short sections
- group work, questions, stories for all-age worship…
- welcome and wonder
- sign and symbol
- patterns and a programme
- space and silence
- image and imagination
- rhythms and rhyme

3. What elements should we try to include?
- story… interaction… question and answer…
- celebration of community ( laughter and lament )…
- different voices… pictures… silence
- movement… involvement of the five senses…
- celebration of faith in action…
- short sections…
- accessible language … time to respond to God…
- space for wonder…
- a clear framework using familiar signpost language from the usual liturgy of your church, such as the Welcome, the Lord’s Prayer, Responses, Reading, Prayers, Communion Words, Blessing
- a variety of styles of hymns and songs, carrying the theme

Which actually all sounds to me like good practice in worship anyway, whether there are children present or not.

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