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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: Keeping the Next Generation

There is a trend among churches that has gone on for a long time. It separates and segregates us by age and/or generation. Why do we tend to relegate our children and youth to second class Christian status? We provide our children with watered down Bible stories that entertain and keep them quiet and out of trouble. Some churches even send the kids out of the sanctuary entirely. I've heard stories from families who have visited other churches where they were actually asked to leave because they didn't want to put their newborn in the nursery. Then there are churches where the children never participate in the "adult" service at all having a Mega Kid's Church or Super Church where everything is high energy and Fun and Games.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not against Children's Church. I think it has its place in educating and discipling our children, but I don't think children should never be a part of the a regular service. They need to see what church is really like, and they need to participate in those services, not just watch. How do we do that though? The answer is actually simpler than you might think.

  1. Have the Kids stay in the sanctuary during the music portion of the Worship Service.
  2. Have children, partnered with and adult, act as greeters and ushers. (Kids can hand out bulletins just as easily as most adults and in some cases even better.)
  3. Have them participate as part of the Worship Team or start a children's or mixed age choir to do special music for the offertory.
Our treatment of Youth is even worse at times in that Youth Groups tend to also be high impact and then we expect our teens to sit and be silent during Sunday Morning Services. Some churches even have separate services for their youth on Sunday mornings. Then when they turn 19 or 20 we expect them to start acting like adults and sit in the regular service. Again we need to engage this generation or we will lose them. A staggering number of teens leave the church soon after entering college, and very few if any come back after college. So how do we solve this problem, the solution is simple.

  1. Youth need to feel connected to the church so get them involved. (the first thing I did when I took over Worship at our church was to invite some of our youth to sing with us on stage.)
  2. let them know they matter and solicit input from them. They're a part of the church as well.
  3. Encourage them to become Junior Members. They need the sense of ownership.
  4. Protect them from people, who may or may not be well intentioned, who try to brush them aside. (for example when I brought the youth up on stage that first Sunday, Some folk question why they were up there, and stated point blank that they shouldn't be allowed on the stage. We did correct those individuals, gently of course, and now people asked where the youth are when they aren't on stage.
Overall if we don't want to lose the next generation we need to give them a reason to stay. After all, and this goes for children, youth, and even adults, God didn't save us to warm a pew. So get the younger generations involved. If you have budding musicians have them play with you on Sunday Morning (especially those trumpet and flute players.) Have the youth work in your sound booth with the presentation software or even the light and sound boards (Both great skills that can go on college applications). Have the children that have outgrown Children's Church become helpers instead. The possibilities are endless but each requires one thing, a little of our time invested in them.