Family Church

I went to General Assembly in 2012 as an observer…which meant, literally that I was there with absolutely no ulterior motives, I just wanted to see how things worked. My husband, my three children and my mother came with me. Luckily, my husband had friends in Pittsburgh, where it was, so he was interested in seeing them. Luckily, my mom is a Presbyterian Pastor so she was interested. Luckily my youngest was an infant so he could easily tag along with me. Luckily, I could go.

But it was a hassle, and there I was a young pastor burning with the call to do things–and I couldn’t find the young/contemporary people.

And, I want young people to go to church–maybe, perhaps, even more than my elders do. I want young people to come not just because they are the “future of the church” not because “we need them” or even “the church is dying” but because I am young, and I feel alone. I want my peers to be into what I’m into, I want friends and partners who understand what it is to be fulltime working, raising children, on all the media and a millennial…it hurts, it hurts because its tempting to take the weight of an entire generations’ conversion on my shoulders (which is stupid because I don’t convert people, Jesus does, but I’m only human, so I slip), one night I cried all over my best friend’s shoulder because it just felt so overwhelmed and sad and alone

There are a few gaps that I see that I think that are obvious to me that do not seem to be a part of the conversation in the greater church.

Churches are NOT family accessible:

I could write the laundry list of why, but lets just say…most timing is very inconvenient and children are NOT included in most of church life…they are either tucked away somewhere else or ignored.

and there is never any babysitting…there certainly wasn’t any at GA….and then they wonder why young families aren’t coming.

This is all to say that I am going to the NextChurch conference next week, and no I am not bringing my children, but there is BABYSITTING. This alone makes me know that nextchurch is on the right track.

“We WILL have childcare available for the National NEXT Gathering. Childcare will run from 8:30a-5:30p on Monday and Tuesday and 8:30a-12:30p on Wednesday. Childcare will be located at the Hilton, the conference hotel. We’re outfitting a playroom there. It will be staffed by fully vetted childcare providers through the service College Nannies. The fee for childcare is $75 per child for the whole conference. Please bring a check made out to Village Presbyterian Church, earmarked “NEXT Childcare.” If this cost is prohibitive, please be in touch with Jessica Tate (nextchurch2014@gmail.com) to discuss options.”

Children! Yay!

It is a gift to love children.

I know this, because as a child, I never wanted to forget what it was to have an adult who talked to you like real human being…there were these grown-ups who “got it” and I read books by authors who seemed to still get it. L. Frank Baum, C. S. Lewis, J. M. Barrie, Raold Dahl, Maurice Sendek, Dr. Suess and a million others.

My husband tells me that I treat everyone like children.

I prefer to think of it as “I treat everyone the same” (including myself…I think that means I still consider myself a child)–Besides we are all children of God, right 😉

I have been gifted with continuous exposure to children, my youngest sibling is 10yrs younger than me, and I have two more! Let’s just say I’ve gone to Disney movies most of my life (either by acculturation or pure survival I still love them!). This means she was only 11 when I graduated college (yep. I was so totally in the know about Blue Clues, Pokemon and what KIDS actually thought about Harry Potter). During College, I worked at Headstart, reading to children. Why? do you ask? Because these children are usually a. not read to at home b. don’t have role models who went to college c. need adults who are around just to talk/listen to them without extra demands. Also, Headstart is underfunded and can always use an extra pair of hands. So, I was around preschoolers 2-3 times a week!
I also dabbled in summer jobs that included a Montessori School, fulltime babysitting and being the children’s director (read: all the Munchkins) of Wizard of Oz

Then I worked at Bethany Presbyterian while I was in seminary where I was the Christan Ed. Director for over 50 kids, with an amazing full out PTA and volunteer staff of Sunday School Teachers.

Then, I also had 2 children at seminary (because, hey, I hate being bored) and babysat part time.

Literally, I have NEVER had a TIME WITHOUT CHILDREN in my life.

So, yes I don’t remember EVERYTHING of being a child, but I didn’t forget everything either 🙂

You know what I’ve learned? You forget! There are lots of adults my age–I’m only 30–who don’t have a clue as to what to do with kids–either they have never been around them, or they’ve completely forgotten.

And, some people are able to rediscover it with parenting or by connecting with a child in their lives 🙂

To love children, to stay engaged with them, to truly value who they are (not just who they have potential to be) is a gift. I’m so lucky to have that gift.

This is why I think that families should be included (w)holistically in church, that real space and time should be given to children to be a part of everything that is going on, and their contributions should be valued…This is why I didn’t become a Christian Educator, because I think Children Should be INCLUDED in church, not just a special category of ministry (altho they are that too) I want to be in the “main church” fighting for and with them!

after all, their contributions have always been a meaningful part of MY life!!!

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Thoughts on Life and Faith

10:00 am Worship @NCPC

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

Martha Spong

Clergy Coach

r e F o c u s

a ministry for transition

Church Set Free

Love is the answer - now what's your question?

Living Contemplatively

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

A Spirit Filled Life

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

Improvisations

thinking outloud online

G-Free Rev

Knittin' and Preachin'

Infinite Windows

Meditations on faith and art

Mom Meets Blog

Managing motherhood, midlife and a blog