Book for Voyage here.
Book for Small Caskets here.
This Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Starburst conference in the Diocese of Peterborough, and leading workshops on All-Age Worship and Storytelling.
Below are the slides from the workshops, and all the handouts, in case you missed out. (The Worship Clock and the Elements of Worship sheet are missing – I don’t have access to them today, so I’ll post them tomorrow.)
For more on the Beulah Land “fuzzy felt” Bible storytelling, you can visit Mustard Seed Kids (be aware this is my company, so there’s a conflict of interest).
For more on Godly Play, visit Gody Play UK’s website.
Starburst All-Age Worship (presentation slides)
Starburst Storytelling (presentation slides)
This is a wonderful article on how to use the new craze for “spinners” productively, to help children focus, accept differences, and “fidget productively.”
It’s very applicable to churches – worship, including in Junior Church, often requires periods of sitting still, listening, and so on, which some children find difficult. Providing ways for children to fidget productively – with pew bags or liturgy boxes or physical prayer objects or just good old-fashioned paper and pens – can help children engage more deeply in worship and feel more at home in church.
(Link will open in a new tab.)
Those of you who have been to any of my workshops or training sessions might have heard me talk about “imaginative spiritual play” and how to facilitate it. Yesterday, Patrick, aged 5, gave me a good example.
His mum was leading one of the Sunday School groups, so he arrived early. As the space was set up, he started playing – first, he arranged the electric candles on the altar.
What I did: got more candles when he asked, helped him come up with an idea on how to arrange them when he was frustrated that there weren’t enough to go all the way around.
Then he asked me if I had any red paper. He balled up the red paper and stuck it in the chalice to be wine.
He also went to the toy corner and got the wave and the rainbow toys and set them on the altar.
What I did: Asked him about his setup, using open-ended questions, e.g., “would you like to tell me about what you’ve made?” rather than “is that rainbow from the Noah story?”
When I asked him about his setup, he explained that the water and the rainbow were, in fact, from the Noah story, and asked me if I’d heard this story.
What I did: Instead of saying, “yes, I know that story,” I asked him to tell it to me.
Using the rainbow and the water wave, he briefly recapped the Noah story, and then asked if we could take out the plastic animals from the cupboard to play with them. As the service was about to start, so we had to go into the main worship area, I said no, but reminded him there was a Noah’s Ark toy in the church’s Pray and Play area if he wanted to go and play with that during the start of the service, before Sunday School began.
What made this work:
Tomorrow is our day on Creative Holy Week for All Ages – so for those of you who can’t be there, here are all the resources.
Don’t forget to also check out my Lent and Easter Pinterest board – and send me anything you find that you think I should add to it!
I set up two of my friends recently – they had a lot in common, they seemed to be looking for what the other one had to offer, and I thought they’d get on.
They agreed to meet up and they went out! There were candles, there was poetry … all the ingredients of a special occasion.
A few weeks later, I asked one of them if there had been a second date.
“No,” she said. “I really liked him! He gave all the right signals, but then he never called … guess he didn’t want me after all.”
So I went to my other friend and asked why he’d never arranged a second date.
“Well,” he said. “I organised the first one. I reckoned if she was keen, she’d call me, and set up a second date. It’s a shame – I really liked her.”
This story is made up. While I am, in fact, responsible for introducing TWO of the couples in my immediate circle of friends, this particular matchmaking venture didn’t take place. This is, in fact, a fictional version of the elusive courtship relationship your church has with young families.
Your church wants young families. Young families want a friendly and meaningful religious community where they feel welcomed, loved, cared for, and wanted. You meet up for a Crib Service – there are candles and poetry, and it’s a really special event. You smile at each other and say how lovely it was to meet up, and you’d love to do it again.
And then you both sit at home, waiting for the other to make the first move.
Research from the Christenings Project shows that families WANT the church to stay in touch. They want to be invited back to special events and to family-friendly services. But families are busier than ever, they’re nervous about their child’s behaviour in church, and they don’t know what’s happening at your church if you don’t tell them. So you need to make the effort. You need to reach out. You need to woo.
This Christmas Eve, why not hand families who come to your Crib Service a small sheet of paper with a space for them to write down their name, their child(ren)’s name(s), their email address, and whether they’d like to be contacted about future events? You know they like you – they’ve come to your Crib Service!
Have someone at the back of the church at the end of the service to gather these papers in and hand out something special to take home (a chocolate coin, a cut-out-and-keep Nativity, or something else). Then add these email addresses to your mailing list and invite them back for Candlemas … Mothering Sunday … Holy Week … toddler group … holiday club … and don’t take them off the list unless they ask you to! Conventional wisdom in the marketing world is that people need to be reminded of something seven times before they’ll take action on it. Keep inviting them back.
After all, that’s what God does, isn’t it? He goes out into the highways and the byways and says “we’re having a feast! Come on in!” And he keeps asking, and keeps asking, because he loves us so much and he wants us to be together, near him – he calls his people to be his Bride. Let’s model that persistent courtship in our churches.
(And if anyone wants my services as a real-life matchmaker, do get in touch. I can provide two happy couples as references! One couple was even introduced to each other, by me, in a church. So you never know …)