One of the key elements that I like in All Age Services is that it brings together everyone and takes seriously the idea that we are all part of the one family of God.
Of course, the difficulty can then sometimes be how this works out for everyone. Some people understand the value of everyone in together, but others want a bit of peace and quiet, or feel that it isn’t lively enough! We’ve tried various things over the years – whether in the form of drama or in the form of different styles. But we are launching out on a new experiment.
The idea of the experiment came up before Christmas in staff meetings. We wondered if we could launch the New Year and our new series on Mark’s Gospel in a different way. We wanted to see if we could get more people engaging in different ways with the Gospel. We wondered if we should look at different learning styles and came up with Listen, Talk and Do.
So, in January we started all together in worship with notices, some songs, prayers and a reading. We then gave people three options to try. Either to stay in for a sermon (in fact an interactive talk with buzz groups) join a discussion group or go and try your hand with an arts and craft group.
What was fascinating as we have received feedback has been not only how positive so many have been but also how people came and said things like “I was reluctant to do the craft with my child but I got so much out of it”, or “It was lovely having a discussion group with the youth involved”. It was great to see young and old sharing in group discussions and some of the youth staying in for the talk and engaging. It was lovely to see people come back in at the end for a final song and sharing of their experiences and to see a real buzz in the church.
So, with the backing of the PCC we are extending this experiment until May. In February we are adding the option of drama and in March we are looking at adding a meditative response to the passage. We are hoping that people and families will be able to engage with the scripture in different ways (and that people will experiment) and that they will discover that some of these new ways will actually grow their understanding and appreciation of scripture. We are hoping and praying that it will truly be All Age!
If you have any ideas of other things that we can do to engage people then let us know! We are open to ideas.