Thursday, November 15, 2007

Soapbox

I don't know how it happened. I have some good guesses below which will not change the tragic results. We Protestant Evangelicals have created a chasm between ourselves and our children in worship. Someone, I don't know who, invented children's church, and that's the last we've seen of our children during Sunday morning services- Poof!, and the wonder in the eyes of a child was stripped from the worship experience altogether.

Is it because children are no longer capable of comprehending the Gospel? Do children of this new generation require things particularly tailored to them?

Or is it because parents no longer know how to parent in the church setting?

Have churches become distracted and annoyed by young ones during the "real" action of the service?

All I know for sure is that I miss little voices singing in sincerity and the conviction of youth when I attend church.

And I want them back.

I've had folks who believe the same way ask, "There are plenty of churches who do welcome children into liturgy. Why not find one and stop whining?" The answer is simple- I am called at this time to the Protestant Evangelical Church, with all its beauty and weakness. If it's not heresy to quote Ghandi for Christian purposes, I intend "to be the change I wish to see."

Last night, our church hosted an uncommon event. We worshipped intentionally as a families. One gifted family made up the music team- two beautiful daughters and a mom on vocals, dad leading, son on guitar. That entire family whole-heartedly sang, but the confident and cute-as-a-button six year old at the microphone melted me.'

My entire family danced something I choreographed to a Mercy Me song. I simply asked my household to consider the dance as an offering to an audience of One though we were to dance in front of quite a crowd. Tater, a self conscious tween, refused at first. I wasn't about to require a gift of worship from any family member. However, he came to me after careful consideration and prayer and said, "Though I might feel embarrassed, it's something I feel I am supposed to do." That was a moment with Tater I wouldn't trade for the world, my friends.''

The service provided built in silent contemplative listening time complete with journals, crayons and pencils. We considered scripture together in small groups, and ended with active, flag waving worship at the end. You might find this irreverent, but I didn't- Wise One and a buddy threw down some guitar hero moves as they enjoyed God and the music.

Afterwards, I thought aloud, "That is church!" My congregation plans to do this another time in the next year. Perhaps it's the start to the change I hope to be.

7 comments:

amanda said...

This experience sounds wonderful. Our worship pastor is seeking input. I must share this. Wish I could have been there with you. I would have danced, I would have colored, I would have worshiped with my family. :)
Our church separates the kids also. They try to reincorporate them into the main service by high school, but the kids have no ties to the "adult" service and rarely attend. Our family also does not embrace this separation.
amanda

truevyne said...

Amanda,
I wonder just how many of us there are?

~m2~ said...

our monsignor who just passed away loved children -- in fact, when he performed baptisms, even if there were five, he would do one family at a time because they were precious to him and he desired the families to know relationships within the church.

he also said if he could have thrown away the key to the cry room, he would have because children were baptised into the church and should grow with the church, not apart from it.

there is a movement in our parish (and has been for some time) that the children are dismissed before the first reading and return before Communion for kindergarten/first grade religious ed. they are absolutely precious walking off, hand in hand to return to church and one day in particular, they all came back and one at a time, presented monsignor with colored pictures. it was adorable.

but also (as i totally thread jack your comments box), there was another moment during the reading of a Gospel message about love, when a little one, about 3 or 4 years old, simply rose from her pew and went up to a gorgeous flower arrangement and smelled the flowers -- like a photograph you'd see in a card store -- took a big ole whiff, stepped back and said "wow" and then turned around and walked back to sit with her mama. it was precious and of course, i got tears in my eyes and everyone just laughed. how can you experience that if they are in another part of the church altogether?

/thread jack...

truevyne said...

Penni,
You are welcome to thread jack anytime. And I know your Church welcomes children like this- I've seen children in the mass, and it is so very precious. My heart longs for the day that my church remembers the essential nature of becoming like a child.

Kate said...

our church does not have children's church and instead encourages and embraces family worship at a young age. it was new to me (from my days in "children's church") when we found our church 5 years ago. i found a book called "parenting in the pew" then and it transformed my views about it. this is church!

truevyne said...

Kate,
I'm so glad you have that!

HIllbilly Rockin' Robin said...

I LOVE this entry! Found your BLOG through another. I'm also a homeschooling mother of four. My husband and I agree with your philosophy. We are piloting a "family" small group at our church. The small group is for EVERYONE. We do all of our lessons, projects, worship, etc... together with our children! It's sad that so many children are growing up to think that Christianity is about entertainment. Also, your children sound very special to be willing to cook for their mama. Thanks for sharing ans encouraging the rest of us!