Recently someone said to me that the key to a great church plant is a good kids ministry and rockin music.
That person isn’t a part of our church… and probably won’t be in a hurry!
Its not that we don’t love our kids or enjoy music, but the question needs to be asked again, ‘where do these things fit in this setting?’ Their statement assumes a one size fits all kind of church where if we simply get a few key elements right the punters will show up in their droves singing our praises.
But the ‘what do we do with the kids?’ question is a big one and the danger is we will simply run pseudo baby sitting services to keep them out of our hair, or we will drive ourselves insane trying to integrate them and make them a part of everything.
As i think out loud here, you need to know that I am a pragmatic optimist! I am not an idealist. I have been, but I got too frustrated – and never got anywhere because ideals simply aren’t reality (otherwise they’d be called ‘reals’!) and rarely translate easily to every day life. I believe we need ideals like we need big dreams. They keep us focused on what ‘can be’ in the best of worlds, but at the same time we simply need to come to grips with the reality of this world. We need to live with the tension between ideals and realism.
That said I am up for re-thinking how we disciple our kids. I am even prepared to try and be a little idealistic!
In conversation with a friend this week we both commented that the Sunday school setting and the lessons we were a part of really didn’t fire us up much as kids – in fact for the most part I disliked having to go and learn on Sunday as well as Mon-Fri.
What we both remember as significant were the people who took an interest in our lives and who influenced us by their example and by their interest in us. Perhaps that is what really matters…
What would happen if we didn’t have any kids teaching programs?
Would our kids grow up to be pagans?
Would they resent us in their adult years for not schooling them in the scriptures?
I am thinking there is a much stronger case to be made for quality parenting and healthy non family mentoring than there is for classroom education of children. That said kids and parents in the same meeting can be very tricky because no-one tends to enjoy the time or really engage with what’s going on.
James has a link to an article in the latest Vineyard online journal that has some good stuff to say. I like her idea of the family as the primary place of spiritual nurture. I think her practical outworking of church worship services is a variation on a theme and not all that revolutionary.
Then again maybe there is no new better way! Ultimately we will need to find a path that works. No answers yet!