Blended Church: All Ages Worship + Children’s Church

Worship with children and adults of all ages together is on trend right now. Lots of my colleagues insist it’s the only way for the church to move forward. Children have been programmed to death, plucked out of church services, and not made to be a part of the worshipping community as a whole. Because of this, they don’t feel as if they’re a part of the “big church” community, and so, when it’s up to them, they choose to forego church attendance altogether. The answer, they say, is a worship service for all. Intergenerational. Cross+Generational. Communal. These terms are tossed around with little consensus as to what they mean.

I, too, am a strong supporter of all ages worship. (Small churches have just called this “worship” since… always.) And yet, I still see value in children having time practice faith in an age appropriate setting, with other young people. Some churches do this through a “Sunday School” hour before or after worship, though this trend is in decline.

The church I pastor, Elmhurst Presbyterian Church, has opted for a blended model this year, where some weeks all ages will worship together, other weeks children will have a special child-focused worship time, and still other times they’ll start out in worship and then be dismissed for special programming. It’s a pilot year to see how it goes.

One of my big worries about trying this blended model was that it would be very confusing for parents and children when they came to church. We didn’t want parents to have to track “first week of the month,” and we wanted freedom to change the schedule last minute, as the season or situations demand.

The solution is the sign at the top of the post. It’s a brightly colored, retractible sign, where the check mark moves, depending on what’s happening that Sunday. It looks bright and cheerful, and it will help everyone get to where they need to go!

I’m looking forward to a great year this year, as we try something new and see where the Spirit leads us!

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