Since I'm not from the Lexington area, I've enjoyed just driving along the major roads in that past few days to check things out. I'm quickly learning my way around and where the best iced coffee and Mexican food is located! So, as I was out exploring the other day, I drove past a church sign that caught my attention! The advertisement on the sign said: "Kids in church? Great Idea! See you Sunday." They then listed their worship times. Genuius. Just after driving past the sign, I found my way into a local sandwhich shop for dinner and was greeted by a teenager. Instead of asking for my order, he asked me if I knew who Megan Fox was and if I liked her. He went on to passionately share that he would "sell his soul" to have 5 minutes with Megan Fox. I had to chuckle! Yes, kids need to be in church! (Don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with Megan Fox or the teenager but selling your soul??).
I wonder if the people in the church were implying (with the sign) that parents aren't briging "kids" to their church? Or, is it a tactic to get parents to know they have a good children and youth Christian education program and worship at their church? It seems to me they are implying that children and youth aren't in church! And, in a way, I think they are right. Clearly, children, youth and adult committment / participation at a church are what makes that congregation what it is. Some churches are known for what they offer children or youth. Some churches are defined by what they offer young adults. Along those lines (and exciting for me)... it is my impression that Zion is known for what it offers families. And, I did see quite a few "kids" in church on Sunday. In fact, the little ones even tried to take over Pastor Tim's king puppet during his moments with the children!
So all of this brought me to this blog entry and wondering why aren't "kids" in church? Logically, my first thought was that we all know this is the most over-committed generation EVER. It's scary! When my son was three we played t-ball and the coach wanted to have practice on Wednesday and Sunday and we had games on Tuesday or Thursday. Well, we just weren't ready for more than one night a week and we switched to karate lessons at his preschool that happened while he was at school on Wednesdays. Even now, on a WEDNESDAY NIGHT (church night) as I look to my facebook page and read status updates, I see parents who have updated that they are getting ready for tonight's practice or are leaving work early to catch their child's game. I wonder to myself why coaches schedule practices on nights or days that are and always have been filled with church activities. But, on the other hand, I can understand that they have to becuase other days are filled with other activities. To me this means that the church must do a better job of understanding these schedules and be open to adjusting their activities. For example, why not push back Wednesday night dinner fifteen minutes? Or, why not have the youth meet on the soccer field before Sunday afternoon's practice for a devotion or Friday night after the football game for some fellowship?
Secondly and because we are so overcommitted these days, I think we have taken up the Israelite practice of worshipping idols. I know I have! An idol doesn't have to be some sort of statue as the Old Testament defines it. An idol can be a thing or practice, like sports, shopping, money, sleeping, being powerful, giving first priority to career over family, or status. These "idols" are very powerful and overwhelming. These things will take away from our committment to church. These things make it easy for us to justify why not to attend or take our "kids" to a Wednesday night program, Bible study, worship, etc.
But, third, one reason we might not get our youth and children to church is the church's fault. I think the church is called to offer programs, worship,and opportunuties to which the community can be excited about and to which they connect. I'm excited to get to be a part of those plans here at Zion and look foward to hearing your suggestions about ways in which we can do that here! Most especially, I am excited for the new contextual worship service that will be starting this Sunday night at 6:30pm!
Kids in church? Great idea! See you tonight or Sunday at Zion!