The usual method in churches in their family service is to split the children and youth away from the adults, except maybe for an intordutory “altogether time”. The thinking is that then each age group can receive age-appropriate content. Sounds fine.
The problem is that so many children do not keep going to church as a teenager, or if they do, they find the jump into adult services difficult. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis claim that as they have not had the ‘family of God’ modelled to them in the services, they are more likely to decide that they don’t need the version of the family of God that they have come to know when they grow up. This family should be inter-accountable, learning from one another, supporting each other etc regardless of age or background. On the one hand the church says it values family, on the other it splits families up at the door. This is about far more than just services, but how could we this be done?
One church kept the children and adults together for the main teaching session and then had a specific group for children when the congregation broke into application groups. The children were led by an adult but were encouraged to take the teaching seriously and apply it to the specifics of their own hearts and issues.
It’s an interesting approach, but it ensures that the whole congregations hears the same thing, but that each group works to find appropriate applications for themselves.
The person who does the ‘altogether teaching’ would have to work hard at making the talk understandable, but that has the added bonus that the teaching would be understandable! However, of the all-age services I’ve been to, only a few have had much to say to the adults. A danger of this sort of setup would be that the altogehter time is reduced to so it says nothing of substance to the adults. I’d be interested to see it though.