Sunday, July 4, 2010
Thoughts Upon Teaching Children and Entertaining Adults
But... when it comes to adults, we often let them be. If they come to Church on Sunday morning, we offer them some variation on the Divine Service (although it is often difficult to include much of contemporary worship in this category). We often have a Bible class or classes scheduled but in few parishes do the majority of people stay. So somewhere along the way we figured that immersing kids in Church will keep them active, knowledgeable, faithful adults. Well, that last part has not panned out so well... some of those who like statistics suggest that Lutherans tend to lose half of those confirmed. I don't know how accurate it is or not but sounds close to the truth.
Maybe we need to rethink all the attention given to the kids and the lack of attention given to forming the faith in adults. About the only real record of Jesus' dealing with children is His blessing of children and touching them. He raised a few, healed a few, but mostly blessed them. In contrast to that we have a great wealth of information on Jesus' conversations with, encounters with, sermons/classes to adults on adult subjects.
We are told by so many well meaning folks that children are the Church of tomorrow. Baloney. They are part of the Church today and we can and must deal with them as part of today's Church. That said, we must do something about the expectation that the Church's primary ministry is to children. Perhaps if we spent a bit more time with the adults, raised our expectations of the adults, we might find that what we do with children carries on better as they grow up in adults. Clearly what we are doing with adults is not working throughout the Synod. Even giving them music they would listen to on the radio has done little real good except shifting around the same mostly churched people. Statistics tell us that the rate of adult conversion is not substantially higher for congregations who have sold their souls to the culture of the day than it is for those hopelessly stuck in the past (with respect to worship, anyway).
Maybe we ought to do better than teaching the children so that they can bless the adults with cute, sweet, adorable moments and music. Maybe we ought to listen to Harry and teach more and expect more from the adults in the pews -- and just maybe there might be more of them and they might see their relationship to the children of the Church differently.... just maybe....