Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Age Services (HT: ASBO Jesus!)

I have written this post in some way to highlight some of the issues being debated in a helpful and honest way over at ASBO Jesus today. Please check this cartoon out here (I love it!)- please do follow the link so I can honour the copyright and send the click that-a-way to Jon's own blog.

Reminds me of this one from 2006, which I insert on the contents page of any training packs I write for my volunteers :-)

Someone said in the ASBO jesus comments that there is no one strategy that works for every church and I agree with this to some degree. Here's some of my semi-serious thoughts on all age services. There are more under the label "All Age".
However, the following is non-negotiable, in my opinion:-

1. children should not be patronised
2. children should not be ignored
3. the attitude that WE lead the children and they learn to worship from us needs to be binned; the most honest, heartfelt worship to the Father comes from children. Look for the opportunities to incorporate this so that adults are touched/challenged/inspired (choose your own word!)
Check out the children's radical worship (I love to hear children shout worship. We did some very loud ones on Sunday there!) in the temple area in Matthew 21:15-16
I have seen some incredible things happen when children worship, including all of us as leaders kneeling before God and confessing a whole load of stuff because we (who were leading the kids' residential weekend!) watched as a dozen children fell face down in God's presence.They were experiencing God.
4. a strategy for including children should be part of the leadership's vision; you can do all the fantastic songs and creative arty stuff you want but if your pastor/leadership team don't support you and/or affirm the place of children then it makes following on from this much harder.
5. my final suggestion for a non-negotiable value is that the church leader/worship leader/person in charge of worship should be familiar with biblical texts not just on Jesus and children but on the responsibilities of the faith community to nurture faith and build a worshipping community (NB this is actually very helpful when thinking about worship services and new believers of any age. Why do we do what we do? What's the point of it?
More helpful information on this (perhaps?) in this entry.

Thanks Jon! What a great cartoon!


  1. Anonymous6:15 PM

    HIya I too have a passion for family services and love your blog. I am currently studying as an ordinand and am writing an essay on the pros and cons of family worship. do you know of any research/books that might be helpful? I have plenty of 'how to do it' books but need something a bit more meaty!

  2. I really appreciate all your thoughts and comments on 'all-age services'. I have to say that I really struggle with them at our church, now having 3 lively boys. It almost seems at times that these services (which we have every couple of months) are more like 'no-age services' - as I'm not sure anybody actually looks forward to them! But I am absolutely 100% behind the theory - I just think the practical application is very difficult to get right!

  3. Anonymous:
    the two I would recommend are:

    Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey by Catherine Stonehouse and
    (slightly heavier and you will have to sift it a bit)
    a compilation called family in the Bible, edited by Hess and Carroll

    Neither of these are actually guides to all age worship (check out SU's Top Tip series for this) but if, as I guess, you are looking for something meatier then do consider these books as you will draw your own academic conclusions from the evidence of worship with children present in the OT (and guess what, surprise surprise in the NT as well. The New Covenant didn't come with child care programmes, au pairs or soft play areas)

    Hope this helps!

    Kind regards

  4. and anonymous, I am so sorry this has taken a while to get to you. I do hope you get follow up comments emailed to you.

    Thanks for saying you like the blog. Lovely to be encouraged!


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