Here is a challenging post from Rodger Nishioka, who teaches Christian Education at Columbia Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and who specializes in ministry with young people. It’s entitled Children’s Church is the Church. He shows how the generations began to separate from one another during worship after World War II, and he describes the unfortunate fruit that has resulted. I believe that this practice is one of the major reasons why younger generations are largely missing from our congregations.
Here’s a sample: Nishioka writes, “We have sown three generations of children leaving or never worshipping with us, and it is no wonder that so many find worship boring and incomprehensible when they come of age and are expected to join us. Further, when I suggest that children remain with us during the whole of worship, some of the loudest objections come from some young parents who want worship to be a time for them when they do not have to worry about their child’s behavior. My own sense is that this reflects the current belief among developmental theorists that adolescence is extending well into young adulthood and what else is a true sign of adolescence but the primary focus on one’s own needs over others.”
In other words, we now have a sixty-year history of people not having to make the effort and not having to struggle to worship as generations together, and we do not want to make the effort and engage in that struggle. We have forgotten that older, younger, and middle generations need to know one another well, love one another, challenge one another, learn from one another, and serve one another. We are called to practice this as we worship together. No, worship is not just about me and what I enjoy, and what I can get out of it. It is the gathering of the whole people of God before God. It is liturgia, the work of the people of God. Why do we think it is supposed to be easy? It is something we do for God and for one another.
Do go read Nishioka’s entire post.
For more thoughts, click on the Children in the Church category in the sidebar to the right.