St Pauls GoodNews

This Week

  • Sunday: 10:00 Worship
  • Monday: 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
  • Tuesday: Bible Study @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.; Elders, 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Church Events 1 p.m.
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion

Graduating From Church

Over the past many decades, in an attempt to connect with non-church people, churches have engaged a model of separating children from their parents on Sundays. Usually, this model promotes a one-hour commitment, sending the adults to a worship service with contemporary music and a self-help, “practical” sermon, and putting the kids in Sunday school where they sing hyperactive “kid-friendly” music to a recorded track to hands-on activities, and listen to a quick lesson dumbed-down to their level. Afterwards everyone goes home and gets on with the otherwise unchurched and unChristian lives.

Obviously there is more going on that this, but this is generally the case.

Include Kids in Corporate Worship

This is not a new idea. Rather, it is a very old idea—older than Sunday School, which was developed in the 1800s in America. Sunday School was developed in order to reach young families, a generally distracted segment of the population. The idea was to lure families into coming to church for only one hour on Sunday morning. Society was experiencing huge changes, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and the church was growing less and less attractive. It was a time of progress, and the churches seemed to be stuck in the past, singing hymns from the 18th century.

Though Sunday School is not a new idea today, it remains the primary method to appeal to kids and young families. While today people in the churches still think that it’s a good idea, kids and young families find it antiquated—not very cool.

The truth is that it’s a broken model. It hasn’t generated renewed interest in church attendance for a long time. In fact, it’s had the opposite effect, and is one of the ways that the church has been alienating young adults for the past twenty or thirty years. The statistics bear this out! Today, kids and young adults are leaving the church faster than ever before.

But why?

We tried to engage them at their own level with fun, practical things. We didn’t keep them in pews with their parents, and make them sit still. We didn’t force them to participate in the stuff they didn’t like or understand, i.e., liturgy, hymns, Scripture readings, and such. Rather, we put together “cool” music videos and lots of Christian media. We encouraged them to shout and dance their hearts out! We let them just be kids! But in the long run, we overstimulated them—in Jesus’ name!

Their experience of church was nothing like Sunday morning adult worship. In fact, the Sunday morning adult stuff was quite boring in contrast. And their Sunday School youth experience highlighted the contrast.

When they finally graduated from High School, they also graduated from the various programs that had been targeted toward them. And the result was that there were no connections to the adult life of the church, especially the odd thing the church does together on Sunday mornings that it calls “worship.”

Though much effort and expense had been expended to make them into little Christians, nobody had taught them how to be grown-up adult Christians. And, while it’s certainly possible to practice Christianity without belonging to a local congregation (at least for a little while), we are commanded to gather together because we can’t thrive in isolation. We need one another. It’s for our own good! (…continued next week)

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