First of all…
I’m not attempting to point any specific fingers. This particular post will be in several parts. What is posted today is not the end of the conversation.
I love our Church, love our church’s parents, love their families. I just want to have an honest conversation in which we look at the health of our community.
In youth ministry it can be frustrating sometimes to see families that seem too busy to really be a part of the church community. I always get a little frustrated around graduation time because despite knowing most of the seniors every year, there are still a few faces I don’t really recognize, still a few names I’m not sure of, still a few people that never came to Abide or Outside Inside.
Sometimes I think, “Was it me? Was it my beard? Were our other kids too mean?”
The truth, while it could be one of the above, is more likely two much deeper reasons.
1. Parents are now more than ever expected to do all, be all and provide all.
2. We often see the church not as Kingdom Community, but as equal to extracurricular activities.
As far as the first reason goes, I’m not sure where the pressure for perfection comes from. I think it has to be born out of parents loving their kids and wanting the best for them. Jesus talks about parents and how they love to give good things to their kids. I’m not a parent, so I think it can be easy for me to look at the typically family schedule and be shocked by the busyness of it. It seems like families operate under a constant state of movement. I think sometimes in trying to provide every good opportunity for youth we get a little busy.I know that now even to have a child involved in only one sport can become hours of time shuttling back and forth between
and fundraisers for more equipment
and more practice.
To add in school with all of its
and book reports
and parent teacher meetings
has to be daunting. And now add in
Life becomes one long long list doesn’t it?
I think this is where reason number two comes in. Because the average family is so busy, something has to get cut. Something has to fall by the wayside. Something has to be ignored and neglected. You can only juggle so many balls before you have to let some drop. I imagine that many parents try to keep the most important activities central. Why isn’t Church one of the biggest priorities? Why does so often school and grades and sports and jobs and everything else seem to come before the Church?
I think it’s partly the churches fault.
Church doesn’t always offer Jesus and his light burden, instead we offer a whole lot of programs and a smidgen of guilt when you say no to being involved in all of them. We don’t always offer love and support. Sometimes we don’t even notice when you’re not there.
A coach notices when a player isn’t on the field. A teacher notices when a student starts to fall behind. The church can sometimes steamroll right over people and families.
Shouldn’t Church look more like Mary and less like Martha?
But maybe the coin has two sides.
Are we looking at church in the wrong light? Church should be the Body of Christ. It should be a community of deep interdependent relationships that resemble Jesus. The church, from what we see in Acts, was a group of people united by Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. It was a home. The people met daily. They shared everything. They lived and suffered together.
The church isn’t supposed to be another item on our never ending agendas. It is supposed to be restful, encouraging, loving.
And to be a Jesus Community, its people must be united, present, real, honest, engaged.
At church, you shouldn’t have to try to be the perfect parent that provides everything. You should be fed.
So it seems like we come to crisis moment. We can look at what church could ideally offer and smile as we move on to the next agenda item.
And ask some hard questions about our time, God’s time, our role and responsibility as the Body of Christ, our freedom to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn and worship, our role to missions and evangelism,
our role to teach our youth to value God above all else.
Will you ask with me? Will you stop with me and look at our life compass and see if it still points to Christ?
I want to tackle this issue over a few posts. Please leave comments or questions and I will try to address them as we walk through this together.