Will my daughter leave the Church?
Are we doing “it” right?
Are we teaching her enough bible, songs, and history?
Are we helping her experience the true and living God?
Are our curriculums at church “working” for other kids?
Do we have a good, model, program, or template?
Should we be sending kids downstairs so much?
Should we be keeping them in a corporate gathering so much?
With the Post-Modern era of culture upon us, is the modern model of Institutional Church just going to die anyways?
How can we keep our kids interested in church when the internet is raising a generation on facebook & buzzfeed? Maybe the seduction of ease and passivity in relationships is just too strong to keep children interested in their faith communities?
To fuel these fires of concern, we may look at the stats and sentiments in The Hemorrhaging Faith Report (2012). It showed us that there were a few key sentiments that adults who were passive fence sitters had regarding church. These were adults who were raised in a church but who have chosen to not participate in Church today.
#The church was out of touch with culture
#It didn’t feel like I could question anything with the leadership
#There was dissonance between messaging from society and church regarding social issues
In sum, the culture they experienced within church walls did not integrate with their experience outside of church walls. And they did not experience and openness to address this.
This is disappointing.
However, unfortunately, these sentiments are actually not new.
I was doing some research yesterday on how to keep kids engaged in their faith communities especially during early adolescence…
And I picked up a book called “Will Our Children Have Faith” by John Westerhoff from my back pack. My uncle had lent it to me a few weeks ago and I hadn’t had a chance to go through it. As I began to read, here too, the words just seemed to resonate with my questions!
Is the sunday “school model” effective?
Why are we focused so much on ‘Christian education’ as we raise our kids in the church?
What is exactly is Spiritual formation?
How can a child be formed in Christian community?
I flip back to the preface to see when this was published.
This says to me a couple things,
In every generation we need to question what we are doing and how we are doing it.
When kids point at a secondary issue, and roll their eyes- perhaps its time for that
particular rendition of “Go tell it on the mountain” to be put to rest. Forever.
Every generation has their own grievances against their parents.
They vow to never subject their children to.
And it is healthy to push back, to question why.
The more important question is Why is the Church (big “C” church…) important and what relevance does it have on my life? Is this legit and am I going to continue to be a part of this?
Now unfortunately, this healthy questioning often gets sidelined with sorrow for the wrong issues. Sometimes the angst really is just generations bemoaning each others antics.
For every “20 something” sneering at Psalty and sword drills,
there’s probably just a tired sad parent somewhere behind them saying
“..Laugh if you must. we were doing the best we could, with the tools that we had..”
There is a whole lot of cynic in me, but I am stepping forward and try my best to reshape and renew
an approach with my own daughter and community-
And I find I am already intimidated with the push back from a younger generation!
My lesson is too boring
the kids aren’t listening..
Was that an eye roll?
What did I just say?
I start to wonder (worry), if the modern model of church [the Institution] is dying out
If our denominational programs have already died and buildings have even shut their doors…
What am I placing my hope in to Stick with these kids? With my kids?
Let’s be honest,
In 20 years, the “Church” won’t look like the church I grew up in.
(It doesn’t already!)
Who knows what elements of Churchey culture my daughter might abandon (pews, awana, and coffee hour?) Or maybe it’ll be the memories of Hillsong Kids music videos playing in our living room that will make her roll her eyes.
But nonetheless, it is my prayer that my daughter and her generation would
Experience the God that moves and breathes through all shapes and eras of culture. That they would know that God hasn’t ‘packed it in’ and abandoned Canada through any of our seasons and eras thus far,
He most certainly won’t leave us as the Church now that Toddlers play with iphones during worship.
That underneath those era-specific-elements, there remain core tenants of being the Church that stand the test of time. Core things that we desire for our kids to experience and practice as adults.
The Living breathing Body of Christ meeting together
Confessing and Proclaiming God’s mighty deeds.
Experiencing the mystery of Christ through corporate Communion.
Witnessing to and experiencing solidarity with believers in their Baptism.
She can turn up her nose at egg races in the church basement. But I hope she won’t ever turn up her nose as what we the Church really are; the Body of Christ.
In the meantime,
May we continue to adapt,
May we continue to accept change,
May we continue to listen to this generation,
May our children know Christ’s grace personally,
May our children experience Christ together,
as unified believers in worship, communion and proclamation.
And May our children minister as Christ’s body to the cultures & communities of tomorrow.
(even when the era of HillsongKids, youtube, and rainbow looms have long since been replaced..)