10th June 2024

Creative Services Delight All Ages

The occasional intergenerational church services held by Encounter Baptist Church, Chadstone, involve a whole lot of ingenuity plus a small dose of “craziness”, according to Associate Pastor Maria Ngo.

The lively event aims to draw all ages together in community as they enjoy participating in worship, bible-verse games, drama, prayers, testimonies and more, all related to a common theme.

“It’s a completely different style of service that is very interactive,” Maria said. “There are games that the whole church can play, and we try to get them doing something a little crazy. The idea is to have fun and involve all ages in the program, while keeping the balance with the key elements of a church service. It’s good for kids to get to know and interact with the adults, and also good for adults to do something fun and participate with the kids. It’s so important for them to connect because that is part of mentoring and disciple-making with young people.”

Maria said that according to research, when children know five adults within their church this provides strong encouragement and support in their faith journey; and it’s important that new people meet with five people they don’t know, to give them a sense of belonging.

“These services help to grow and build community in ways where people can have fun, and since we use topics that the children have been focusing on in Kids Church, the kids can see the adults joining in with the verses they have been learning.”

For the service in May, the theme is Moses and the burning bush which connects with a Pentecost message that Sunday. Maria has planned a host of fun faith-filled activities such as a pass-the-parcel-style game which will reveal a jumbled bible verse to be sorted out – in a competition between two teams. Kids will lead in singing a song about identity and worth called, Priceless Treasure; a young person will create an artwork as a signature image of the day; a parent and teen will lead a prayer; and the youth will play in the worship band.

Before the event, the church often organises a leaflet drop to the surrounding community inviting them to attend, and a prayer walk where people pray for the community to be receptive to God’s love.

Feedback from the services has been extremely positive, with some saying it’s a major highlight and they love coming along, while others say how much they have been touched by the testimonies shared.

“The youngest child is about 5 years old, and the oldest person would be in their late 70s, and all ages are enjoying it. I’m trying to think outside the square, to think how we can be built up and strengthened – and that is not something that happens separately, but it requires a sense of community. I try to make the services very tactile and highly interactive which translates to an elevated volume during the service, with people sometimes having to jump around or do crazy things. Everybody gets involved!”

Maria said churches wanting to try this style of intergenerational service would need the support of the church leadership, a solid team to coordinate it, knowledge of the congregation’s gifts and talents and what they might be receptive to, plus a good lead up to prepare it for the first time. David Wanstall, Encounter’s Senior Pastor, is highly supportive and involved in the preparation and process.

“Involve as many people as you can in the actual service – try to get people of different ages involved, doing things that you know they are good at. Morning tea is another big part of it because if your audience is non-church people this is an opportunity to meet and connect with them. While being creative, it is also important to work within the principles supported by the individual church as one size does not fit all. I think one of the greatest gains is that it gives the adults a place to see what the kids are doing in Kids Church and to participate with them – most people like to do that.”



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