Family gatherings often have their best moments of connection and reconnection at the dinner table. When there are too many people and not enough chairs the standard operating procedure seems to be to create a kid’s table. This way the adults can have their own conversations unhindered. Besides, the kids usually want to be on their own anyways! Inevitably, this leads to two different tables with two different experiences.
Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? We tend to have adult church and kid’s classes. The result tends to be kids that graduate from high school without knowing the church. Research continues to show that the more integrated a child is in the adult church, the better likelihood he or she has of maintaining that status once graduated. Essentially, research says that while it is still appropriate and necessary to have youth meetings, real and full community must cross age demographics.
Real, full community isn’t just acknowledging that children come to Eastgate, rather it means investing time and effort into their lives. It means inviting them into your circle rather than just sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in rows and lines on Sunday mornings. Real, full community isn’t passive, rather it is actively and intentionally seeking out ways to participate in the lives of each other-including children.
Youth are scary. It is totally okay to admit that. They dress funny, they walk funny, and they listen to funny music. They smell weird, they talk weird, and they act strangely. We can feel ill-prepared or ill-suited to be in their lives. But, as followers of Jesus, it is our responsibility to be in their lives. Their lives may even be dependent upon it.
Wednesday we will take a look at why we should do this and how we can do this. We will examine the difference between community in a line and community in a circle. Hopefully, we will be a church family willing to invite the kids over to our table and to our experiences. And hopefully we will be better equipped and more confident to respond to God’s call for us to neighbors and siblings to the demographic most often avoided.
Kids, parents, grandparents, childless friends, and all will hopefully leave with a more full view of community and a more pragmatic take on creatively living within the construct of this community.
Looking forward to conversing with you all about this!