Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Building a culture that welcomes children is important at Highland Baptist Church. Part of doing that has been developing intergenerational, or “all ages” worship services, which integrate children into the fabric of the service, including worship, Scripture reading, prayer and more. But these services aren’t just dressed-up kids’ events. They are geared towards inclusivity, ensuring that every generation feels like they are a key part of the community of faith.
Amanda McCulloch, Associate Pastor, explains it best:
We aim to have all ages represented throughout the service—whether it’s on the worship team, reading scripture, participating in a drama, or praying. For example, at this past service our youth were involved in a drama, our choir and kids did the anthem together (the choir sang, and the kids did sign language), and a child sang a solo…
Our All Ages Services came out of a desire to equip and provide resources for parents as they nurture their children’s faith, as well as a desire to include children in our worship services more often.
At one point in time, we held special events for parents where we provided them with information and resources about topics such as reading the Bible with your kids. Rather than hold these special events, we decided to incorporate the resourcing and equipping of parents into an All Ages Services… Giving parents resources so their children’s faith can be nurtured is a value of ours but we now mostly incorporate that into our All Ages worship services, instead of having stand-alone events where we provide resources for parents.
Kids have a chance to be present with their parents during worship, and to develop a sense of belonging in not just the kids program, but the whole church. Older people have the chance to worship with their congregations youngest members and experience their joy and excitement. Even so, to make things easier for younger congregants, the structure of the service is adapted. Sermons are shortened, dramatic elements are added or a storytelling approach is employed—changes that offer new learning opportunities for every age group.
“[All ages services] require humility, as sometimes the things we try don’t turn out as we had hoped! Yet, it’s always worth it. There is something so beautiful and special about worshipping together,” says Amanda.
If you would like to find out more about having intergenerational worship in your church family, check out All Ages Worship, or contact Tanya Yuen, Children and Family Ministries Associate.