I grew up in the church…as a pastor’s daughter….I go to church now as a pastor, but my siblings don’t ..but they might someday, who knows? I don’t think it was about whether they were in or out of church service, I think its about their beliefs and the problem of they aren’t sure how they feel and the church makes it out like “you shouldn’t go to church unless you believe/act/do exactly what we want”
I feel like that may be the answer for them, but for different people, the reasons are different.
Two blogs about children surfaced this week Sunday School is killing the church (which is really about the timing of Sunday School, altho the title makes our poor underpaid youth pastors even worse off)
and The Church Should Be the Thing that Backs Down
Both of these blogs actually are trying to address a larger issue
Which is Families are CRAZY busy!
I mean seriously, a parent used to stay at home with the children, one working person households used to be totally feasible, plus kids had more free time. Primary socialization for families (I mean the entire family , the parents and the children) used to happen at church.
Unless we change the economy (are you helping by justly paying your church workers? or asking them to only work the hrs they are paid for? If not your church is PART OF THE VERY PROBLEM YOUR COMPLAINING ABOUT) …….we need to look deeper.
Let me tell you something, almost every stay at home parent is one because they can’t get a job that will actually contribute to the family monetarily….i.e. childcare, work clothes, gas, etc. eats all their pay
Almost every person I know is being told to work harder (put in more hrs, be more available, don’t complain about anything ever) in their job (or risk losing it) with almost no prospects of moving up
Almost every person I know with children has more demands for homework and time than ever before…plus you are never supposed to let your child play out of your sight ever again (assuming you are a middle or upper class parent) because that is “bad parenting”
Want to know why parents put their kids in babysitting/Sunday School during church? They need a break
Some parents even send their children to Sunday School and don’t even bother going to church themselves (gee…what need is that signaling) More than once I’ve heard of a church with a “problem” with it being just used as a free babysitting service.
Why is it those activities that happen not on Sunday Morning are rarely attended by kids? Usually parents have some other activity they have to attend, like sports or family time or other things (I would say “How dare they” but I don’t think everyone would hear my sarcasm)
Its tough to be a family…
And the church offers very few family resources…almost nothing to parents about parenting, few things where the entire family will ENJOY the activity (note letting children come to something IS NOT the same thing as welcoming them)
Plus most church meetings are over bedtime, which makes it really hard for a parent to come unless they pay a babysitter…even onsite care won’t help to defeat bedtime. (as my colleague Ryan Timpte says)
1. Families are busy
2. We treat children as a commodity
3. Families are rarely given truly family appropriate activities to join
4. Parents are tired
5. The Weekend doesn’t exist for most people (Saturday used to be a day off too, rarely is it)
Can we reclaim Sabbath? (do we know what that means to different people and how to build that?)
Can we work with families?
Can we support parents?
Can we help the economy and idea of overwork–even if its just in our own church environment?
Can we address these problems as opportunities….because until we do, we will continue to make claims of “such and such” killing the church. And as Katie Bombalurina Mulligan said
“1. We are a resurrection people, so death is not an existential crisis for us or our institutions (easier said than realized, but yeah)
2. No one thing is “killing” the church
3. The church isn’t actually something that can die. It’s an institution that might end, but the people inside are what is living.
4. The articles are written with lazy generalizations (this too is a lazy generalization. back atcha).
5. There are so many different forms and ways of doing church. if you feel yours is unfaithful, go try some more ways. and then some more.
6. If we’re going to animate the church as a living entity, then the church is supposed to die, because nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky (~Kansas. or Ecclesiastes. Take your pick. Also, that rhymed.)“
Something to SERIOUSLY consider when discussing “those cutesy beings who are the future of the church”
or as I prefer to think of them “These children of God who have so much to contribute”