For the past couple of weeks I have been dreaming about what a family service might look like; a service where both the child and parents can connect, worship and grow together. Most of the time I have seen family services be too one-sided. Either they are designed for adults with a “children’s moment” or a service that moderately entertains families. Here are some general components that can be used to bring success for creating a family service which strives for spiritual formation in the family.
Music// In many ways music is a staple for every service; the issue is the type of music played. In my experience any song will work if it aligns well with the service. Obviously children enjoy more “kiddish” songs, but I have seen young kids grasp on to more “adult” type songs. Song selection comes down to appropriateness, familiarity and the lyrical/musical simplicity of the songs.
Anticipation// I got this idea from Tru, the curriculum we employ in our Children’s Ministry. Anticipation generates a deliberate “ice breaker” to help introduce the upcoming Bible Story and the themes being shared. A typical anticipation can be an experience, a question, a simple craft, skit, etc. The point is to simply help draw in families through an element that creates curiosity.
Message// Every family service needs a message; a message that start with the Bible and leads to a specific point. This is not a time for a three point sermon. Allow the Word to be the source of the message and extrapolate a point based on how the Spirit guides you.
Sharing Time// This is one of elements that makes a family service different. Sharing time is when children and their parents ask questions, share insights and discuss faith together. The trick to a successful sharing time is creating a variety questions based on comprehension (basic questions for young kids and challenging questions for older kids) and providing “talking points” for the parents to help elaborate on certain points.
Response & Prayer// Response and prayer is a time to listen to God and internalize the message that was shared. By engaging in response stations families have a chance to respond to God’s leading. Examples of response stations can be a place for drawing out one’s feelings, writing down your prayers, praying together as a family unit, communion, offering or even play dough to visually express what you hear God saying. With practice a family becomes more comfortable visiting the response stations but it does take time & practice.
Blessing// End the family service with parents laying hands on their child and praying a blessing on them. A blessing is an action of empowering one to go out into the world and be forever changed from the Spirit’s work in them.
This is a list that gives us general ideas when planning a family service that focuses on spiritual formation and seeks to establish the parent as the primary spiritual leaders in their family. How these elements are scheduled out and implemented is a whole different post but as we move closer to establishing a weekly family service I would love to add to this list. What elements have worked best for your family or inter-generational services?