Preparing All Age Services for Trinity Church

Francis Noordanus

 Preparing an All-Age-Service for a Second Sunday

Prepared by Francis Noordanus

June 2012


Since mid 2011 an order of service has been developed to suit the increasingly younger age make-up of Trinity Church.  After a year of trial and development I feel it is time to involve more people at the creative level as well as implementation of our monthly All-age-services.  This paper is an attempt to enable more people to become part of the creative preparation and flow into leading our all-age-services.

If you are an action person you should now flick through to Part B-Tasks, Roles and How to do it, then come back to consider the theoretical lead in in Part A.  If you want to think through the conceptual framework before you act continue reading from here.  ;-)


Part A - Thinking it through


* All-age-services are a monthly opportunity to fellowship as the whole of Trinity Church and affirm the ministries of various congregations in a way that builds and affirms unity throughout the whole church across the ages.

* There is the opportunity here to involve many people in leading worship and ministering the Word for whom other service formats are not so accessible.  

* Ministering to children often involves creativity and formats that many adults actually find very helpful as the basics are discussed and engaged in more accessible language.

* Families may worship actively together in ways that provide patterns and points of connection for their own worship life in the home.


Assumptions held and principles applied:

* That All-age-worship and fellowship is precious to God.  [Cf. Malachi 4:6a ]

* That All-age-worship should be worship in spirit and truth [ie. Real worship, not play worship] rather than church-lite or a presentation from one generation/congregation to another as in a school concert opened to parents.

* That while the whole worship service may not have everyone engrossed for the whole time there should be points of contact for everyone somewhere.

* That a series of short segments with opportunities for interaction, child-friendly music, movement to music, drama and sometimes art provides an appropriate basis.


Challenges anticipated:

* Creating a meaningful time of worship and instruction that works for very young children through to senior adults from a variety of cultures.

* The relatively large number of young children clustered around ages 4-6 with more on the way.

* The short attention spans of children and their some times limited socialization in English.

* The congregation’s vast cultural diversity including cultures for whom church means parents staying in their pew with their children under the direction of a pastor/priest rather than moving or interacting with children or other adults.


Elements of the resulting approach:

* As much as possible we try to address and engaged the family unit so that parents and their young children get involved together whether that be through movement, guiding parental presence and interpretation or support as appropriate.  To this end the gathering of parents and children into the open space provided begins from the very beginning of the service.

* The age level of operation begins low and builds up.  So the opening, with people relatively fresh, can catch 4 year olds and hold them for as long as possible before rising as sophistication requires for readings or message etc.   A really good service is where you can keep everyone together as long as possible.  Drama engaging the whole congregation is very effective for this.

* The basic (now standard) format being followed is shown by this sample Run-sheet:


[ALL-AGE]     Service Flow   Sunday 11 March 2012  

Opening Songs  - Medley     Start from cold with as little talk as possible, let the music do the      gathering.  Get down from platform to work forward.     led by Evans

* Blessed Be Your Name

* Lord I lift Your name Up High

Introduce worship,   Prayer of Preparation and Invocation  Francis

P&W Bracket geared for Young Children & their Parents   led by Evans

* Our God Is a Great Big God

* Friend Of God

* I Walk By Faith


Introduction to Readings    c/- Francis    PPT 12 March 2012

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 20:1-17   [10 Commandments]  read by Lynne Starrenburg

ALL AGE Reflection Part A   c/- Francis 

Children (& Parents) may retire to back for craft activity or stay and worship.  c/- Madeeen


Gospel   John 2:13-22    [Cleansing of the Temple]  read by  Simone Roach

Adult Reflection Part B     ( @ 7.5 minutes)  Francis

Response: * Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Prayer(s) of response    led by Elmer   Ending with the Lord’s Prayer.     PPT  Lord’s Prayer.

Collection & Final song      *  Trust & Obey (When we walk with the Lord)



Summary of Content:

Like most services the main elements are:  

* Sung Praise and Worship [with dance & action if possible]

* Word: Opening the Scriptures through:  reading, telling, acting or drawing a selection from the Bible as well as declaring the faith.

* Acts of Response to God:  Offering, prayers of faith or symbolic acts.



Part B –Tasks, Roles and How to do it,

Where to start?

In my experience, preparation for an All-age-service begins weeks ahead in prayer and contemplation which leads to an idea or an insight, dream or a vision.  Alongside this prayer I consider the lectionary readings set for that day, the time of year and season as well as the needs or pastoral issues of the time.



While the lectionary readings set for that day are published in the Church’s Sunday Ministry Google doc [ ]  Feel free to select scripture readings that really allow for coherence and flow with your central theme.  I would expect there to be at least one gospel reading and would prefer one or two short to moderate pictorial readings.  For continuity I try, if possible, to have at least one of the readings set for that day but this is also not essential.  

So with that in mind select readings that you feel are appropriate.  These need to be posted into the Sunday Ministry Google doc and/or posted to Manju Daniel who coordinates the readers for all Sunday services.  Manju tries to involve a range of ages in reading.


Presenting and proclaiming the scriptures.

This requires creativity and careful preparation:  One scripture will probably be central.   Scriptures may be:  

* Read from a modern translation, ideally with an introduction.

* Carefully told as a story

* Dramatised to bring the story into the living experience of those present.

* Brought through a video clip.

I would recommend either story telling or drama as this is most engaging.


Bringing a Message or a Reflection

This is an art led by the Holy Spirit.  One ideal is to speak to children in a way that adults also need to hear.  It can be through a double level of communication or something so simple and common that all are engaged.  Positioning oneself is a factor here.  You need to find a space that clearly lets the children know you have their attention while remaining engaged with adults as well.  A low seating position often works better than a standing position.

In the sample structure above there are two reflections offered as messages.  They are both short.  The first is a dual level message addressed to children but relevant to adults.  The second is offered to adults while the children have been offered colouring work based on the message they heard.


What about crafts and colouring-in?

The KidZchurch children are used to working together in arts and crafts.  Madeleen Wessels is usually able to lead a team of willing parents to oversee and support children colouring in at the back of the church.  I supply her with pdfs of suitable colouring in material found on the web.   Sometimes with a bit of cropping is needed to optimize a picture for our needs.  Some good sites are:





I prefer images with clean lines and avoid those with clear traditional or denominational markers.

Somewhere between 20 and 20 copies are usually needed and running short creates a crisis so take a cue from Madeleen in advance about how many are needed and if you can print them yourself provide 30.  Sometimes I can provide a basic 3-6 image as well as a more sophisticated 7-11 image.


Music for Praise & Worship

The experience here lies with Martin Rae and Evan Ishengoma.  Martin has produced a Resource Google doc setting out songs that a known and that work in our All-age context.  [  ]  The clear themes of these songs lend them to supporting many themes and approaches to worship.  Alongside this you can also consult with the Praise & Worship leader assigned for that day.  Tell them you themes and vision and ask for their input.  Ideally you should do this two weeks beforehand as the musicians need a full week to prepare.  You can of course also make use of CD tracks or sing and play yourselves!


Dance and actions.

The more, the better.  My request however is that rather than teach them first they be modeled and people simply follow.  Deborah is a natural talent here.


Organization and task assignment:

Functionally this requires some coordination and relationally it requires leadership.  As for every service there needs to be someone who ties it all together, convenes the team and takes decisions.  This person needs to carry the vision for the event but need not do everything or much at all on the day.  A Typical assignment of tasks might be:

* Over all coordinator.  May have the vision for the service or work to facilitate it form team membership.

* Music coordinator to select opportunities and songs for All Age worship and liaise or prepare music team to serve on the day

* Ministers of the Word.   Those who read the scriptures or re-present their content in story or drama form.

* Powerpoint preparation.   Using templates provided these can be elaborated on and prepared before being emailed to the Beamer Team at   .  Images need to be in jpg format.

* Colouring sheets or craft activities need to be prepared and coordinated

* Service leadership – on the day.

 The ideal development would be a team that meet on occasion to pray, reflect and envision the possibilities for development over coming months in relation to the congregation’s actual development.


Conclusion?   Might you be someone to serve and grow as part of this team?