We decided over a decade ago to cultivate an all-age, all-stage way of doing things at West. This means that kids (and everyone else) are involved in all areas of church life, from Sunday services to the prayer team.
On Sunday mornings, the kids stay with the rest of us for the whole service. We make a special effort to make the services interactive and engaging – and not just for the kids’ sakes! Kids (and others) are involved in active things like:
- performing an opening ritual (lighting a candle or bringing in a Bible, for instance)
- leading us in prayer, often with prayers they’ve written themselves
- taking part in skits, experiments and demonstrations
- playing in the band
- giving Bible readings
- collecting the offering
- drawing or making responses to teaching or prayer times
We’ve reviewed this approach a few times, and have decided that while that it takes a bit more creativity and effort for those leading the services, it’s by far the best approach for our community. It has meant that the kids and adults have great relationships, and that kids don’t leave church when they get to 14 or so when, in the past, they would have graduated from Sunday school.
We also have adult mentors for our Year 7 -13 students, which contributes to our intergenerational approach.
Kids aren’t just involved on Sundays. Kids at West are invited to contribute to our life together in age-appropriate ways alongside the adults. Kids are welcome and encouraged to be on the prayer chain (they get a slightly edited version of things to pray about), the technology team (operating powerpoint and the sound system), the music team and helping to run social events, among other things.
If you are a parent and this is a new way of doing things for you, never fear! We can give you heaps of help getting used to it, and are really tolerant of kids wriggling and chatting during services. We have parents who have seen their kids grow up with this intergenerational approach who are passionate about it and can help mentor new members in how to help their kids thrive at West.