How do you communicate with everyone?
Standing at the front of a large group of people of all ages can be quite daunting. Is it possible to speak to children, young people, adults and the elderly at the same time without alienating at least one particular group? The simple answer is ‘yes’. It’s not easy but there are ways to do it effectively! Some tips when speaking to everyone:
- Pitch everything at the children
Adults will generally stick with you and give you grace, but if you lose the children then you might struggle to get them back. So speak to the children directly, get some out at the front with you (children love looking at children and taking part), look at them, smile lots and most importantly don’t patronise them! Have fun with them, make them laugh, poke fun at them (gently) and make asides to the adults! Be brave and ask children questions – children rarely let you down! Be prepared to improvise and don’t worry if things don’t go slickly. It’s more fun if they don’t.
Enjoy yourself – if you’re enjoying yourself it’s more likely those watching and listening to you will too!
- Don’t forget the adults
Of course it’s equally important that the adults stay engaged. A few one-liners or key points can challenge the adults without losing the children. If you’re a worship leader, you may need to be quite explicit with them, or they may be tempted to sit down and zone out! Encourage them to participate and nudge them to follow the action leaders in a physical expression of worship, just as you would the children.
- Keep things short
This generation of children and young people are used to fast moving TV shows and lose concentration quickly if they get bored. Don’t assume children are the same as when you were a child! TV channells know that if they don’t hold their interest they’ll just switch over to one of the many others. So short, snappy Worship For Everyone service elements are a must! For example, a good Worship For Everyone talk should be no longer than 5/10 minutes – and use plenty of songs, props, videos and images.
- Tell stories.
Jesus was the best story-teller ever. Just think how many stories you know of His and how amazingly simple and powerful they were. Well if it’s good enough for him it ought to be good enough for us. Everyone, and I mean everyone, loves a good story. You can hold a congregation powerfully by telling a simple story from the Bible or from your life. Just make sure you’re not reading it off a piece of paper.
- Be confident
Whether you feel it or not, act confidently – it can seriously make or break a time of all-age worship. Everyone will pick up on any hesitancy or discomfort in how you teach actions or lead the songs. But if you make eye contact, smile and lead boldly, the children are likely to copy you and the adults more inclined to join in. Asking a 40 year old Dad to wave his arms in the air or play air guitar during the action songs might demand some bravery on his part but if you’re confident in showing him how it’s done, he’s more likely to get stuck in – and then his kids are more likely to copy him too!
Beforehand, during and afterwards. This is more than a show. It’s an encounter with the living God. Relationship and transformation are on offer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead every aspect of the service. The Holy Spirit will help you. Guaranteed. Just remember – the Holy Spirit helped a bunch of poorly educated fisherman speak in a variety of languages at Pentecost – so if He can break down that barrier He can easily help you communicate to a group of people of all-ages.