I believe that
building a family feel in a church is positive. I hope that
the church can help parents and youth to value each person's own
judgments and perspectives. I hope the church may help
facilitate interaction between parents and other church adults,
too. I think this may be done in a number of ways:
Ministry Projects: (cleaning days, food pantries,
sports camps, missions trips, inner-city outreaches, clown
ministry teams, and various other ministry teams) These
projects give purpose and reason to interact with each other.
Ministry teams become task-oriented small groups. We've said
for years that clowning bridges the generation gap. It
allows for a common interest, and a common ministry objective.
People become friends as they join together to accomplish
something of purpose.
Outings: (baseball trips to a professional sports
team, fishing trips, church picnics--kids love trying to beat us
old fogies in volleyball, softball, etc., family campouts)
People joke about dad and son sitting in front of the T.V.
football game every Sunday, but honestly, I think it's great.
Sports (or any number of things) that bring parents and kids
together to view something, and to interact with each other
(...even if it's in unintelligible grunts) seems to be a positive
to me. The event is simply a reason for families to be
together and have a base to begin communicating from.
Specialty Sunday School Classes: These can
discuss the culture of today, how to live in it, and show Jesus to
the post-modern culture. This is something I think youth
should understand. This is something I think
all-their-lives-Christian-adults generally have no concept
In your question,
you said, the premise is that 'traditional' youth ministries pull
youth out of the church away from the adults with the long-term
result being a loss of interest in church/Christ. This could
be but I don't think that the answer is to pull youth INTO
adult services that they don't relate to. I think THAT will
result in a long-term loss of interest in church/Christ.
I believe that
people equate the relevancy of the method to the relevancy of the
message. For example, if someone presents sock-puppetry to a
group of Jr. High kids, the Jr. Highers are going to think that
the message is irrelevant, no matter how biblically accurate it
may be. It isn't that the message was irrelevant--the method
was! A pastor may preach a doctrinally rich, life-changing
message, but if he's boring while doing it, people walk out and
say, This doesn't relate to my life.
To me, this is the
issue in the church. That is why at age 14 many people leave
the church. They were forced to sit through flannel graph
stories week after week after week. By the time they were in
fifth grade, programming their parents VCR's at home and jumping
on the Internet at school, they are realizing that the methods of
communication in the church are irrelevant to them. They
then conclude that the message must also be irrelevant. They
are forced to continue to go to church by their parents.
Once their parents cannot force them to go anymore, they don't.
But honestly, the decision was made far before that time when they
stopped attending. They did not sense relevancy to their
I want children to
grow up understanding that Christianity is relevant to every area
of their every day lives. That's first of all taught best in
the home. In the church, I don't believe that it's best
demonstrated by forcing children and youth to sit through an
adult-oriented, adult-communication-styled service. I think
of the church as the body. If we are a body, we should learn
from body builders. Every body builder understands that they
need to do isolation exercises at times to bring a weak part up to
balance. Different vitamins are taken to help different
parts of the body. Different exercises help develop
different areas of the body.
I believe the
church is erring when it thinks that forcing kids into adult-mode
is somehow more spiritual. Usually Family Worship is simply
an adult service that kids are forced to sit through. It has
nothing to do with meeting the needs of kids. The adults
simply do the same thing in that service that they would have
normally done if the kids were not there. I don't believe
this is servanthood to the young ones. Fact is, I tell
folks, if you want to have family worship you should: (#1) Do
it at home! Kid's need to see you worship, and not just one
hour a week on a Sunday morning. (#2) Come sit with
your children in the children's service. They'll get a lot
out of it, and fact is, you'll get something, too!
Jesus said, Even as
you welcome one of these little ones in my name, so you welcome
me. So ask yourself this question, If I really want Jesus'
presence in my church, how can I better make the little ones
welcome? Because this is one of the few places in scripture
that Jesus tells us how to make him welcome. Yes, I'm
talking about a church becoming much more focused on meeting the
needs of children, rather than trying to force them into an adult
I see the world of
children and youth as their own culture. They are mission
fields. Compare it to an African bush culture. A
middle-aged w.a.s.p. cannot walk into that tribe and say, Think
like me, dress like me, get your haircut like me, talk like me,
use my style of music, and you can be a follower of Christ.
NO! He needs to look at their culture, understand it, and
then use portions of it to connect spiritual concepts to their
everyday lives. He needs to ask, What do they like?
How can I use it? (I become all things to all men.)
Unfortunately, the bulk of the church does not approach
youth or children's ministries this way. I think it should.
We have a vast mission field to reach, and we won't unless WE are
willing to change and step into THEIR world.
I believe that may
be done through small groups (Sunday School, etc.) Specifically,
I don't see having teens sitting in an adult Sunday morning
worship service as a negative. I think having third graders
and preschoolers forced to sit and watch the talking head above
the pulpit is not a positive. I'd rather they be entering
into meaningful worship (which means they understand the words,
among other things)...and a music style they enjoy.
I don't know if
that clarifies anything for you....but it's my opinion!
© by Rev.
This leadership article was originally featured in the Children's
Ministry Inspiration Vault