I gave the "love one another" talk today at the 1130 family communion service. Here are some thoughts, feedback and reflections.
I started by asking one of the older children to open the box from Jesus and read the gospel - this worked much better than I imagined, he could even read my writing! To see a young person read a gospel is an inspirational thing, I am sure it's the first time he read that passage and he didn't stumble, he just used his gifts and read it.
I then moved into the interactive session on love. The kids were great providing their thoughts on what is love, how it's different to "like" and how they show love. However when the subject got more theological the adults didn't get involved, a few tried but there wasn't the enthusiasm I'd hoped for. Luckily I had my thoughts that I provided but I think it lost some if the impact. However when asked about how we love God one of the boys wisely said "communion" - fantastic.
I asked for feedback on forms; these asked questions including:
1- what was the sermon about?
2- did the sermon relate to the reading?
3- was the sermon interesting/thought provoking?
4- did the sermon interest children and adults?
5- were there any distracting mannerisms?
6- any other comments?
I am awaiting my clergy's feedback but have back 5 from the congregation. 3 said it was an excellent sermon with all comments positive. 2 were more reflective and rated the sermon as good. One of these stated that the subject matter was excellent for the children but difficult for the adults to interact with in that environment but had given much to think on. The second said the sermon could have been one question shorter since the kids got bored.
My immediate thoughts were that there were too many questions and that I could have combined some together for the adults. It is a constant problem in this all age service how to entertain and educate the kids whilst also engaging the adults. I think the sermon could have worked better with just adults or just children.
My further reflection after seeing feedback and some prayer is that I need to find a way to give a message to the adults which they can ponderon afterwards, they find it hard to interact whilst fielding the kids. Perhaps sending them home with an activity could work? I know as a parent who listens to sermons that it's incredi my difficult to get much out if the kids are bored, but sometimes this means it's all focussed off the adults. I am also thinking that I could have had pieces of A1 paper to write down ideas/answers on which could have been more engaging.
I have to say there are a few further lessons I've learned:
1- feedback is really useful when I take the criticism aspect out of my mind
2- I can reflect and come to possible improvements for the future, this is the real learning
3-adults with children present are a different audience than purely adults
4- children have some of the greatest insights into faith and love