God Fans on their Way Out of Church – It’s True – We Totally Have the Best Religion
It is Sunday and all across America Sport Fan families will gather together in front of televisions and in stadiums to watch one sports team do athletic battle with another. There will be joy and there will be upset. In it all there will some yelling and some moaning. For many it will be a whole family event. Parents (frequently the fathers but no longer always) will have their children next to them. The kids, depending on age may have no clue about what is going on all the way to being the next star sportscaster able to explain every play and every player. Regardless of where in that line of progress the kids are there they will be with their parents. On the couch, on the floor, in the next chair over, the kids are there. As the game is played the parents tell their children what is going on. “Son, the Quarterback just…” “That foul cost the team…” “The reason they played that specific play was to take advantage of…” The previously uninformed child learns the game. Soon they will truly understand but until that day they sit wide-eyed, not understanding much but they know the sport before them is important because dad thinks so and it is so important dad is teaching them the game. It may be an interruption, the dads may not want to stop every few seconds to tell the child what is going on, but they do. They do because it is important that their children know the sport and someday they will watch it together as equals and enjoy experiencing the game together. It is a developing process that results in yet another generation of Sports Fans. Sports Fans who spend millions of hours and millions of dollars enjoying the game because they were raised in it and it is important to them.
What would happen if we did the same thing at Church? People who know my family know that we do not support and are in fact opposed to “Children’s Church.” We have brought our children into “Big Church” from the time they were days old. They sat in our laps and they sat next to us on the pews. Sometimes they would interrupt, they would almost always ask questions, and they learned what it was like to be in the Family of God – the WHOLE FAMILY. At first everyone was older than them – some by a little and some by a lot. They worshipped with other children, kids a bit older, and youth age kids. They worshipped with us and others the age of their parents. They worshipped with those old enough to be grandparents and great grandparents. Today they are college aged and are in church. They choose to go because they want to go. They go on Mission Trips and lead Campus Bible Studies. They are God Fans.
In most churches today it is expected for people to segregate (documentary about it here) their children from the rest of the church. Just about every aspect of the church is age segregated. The result is Nursery, Children’s Church, and Youth Worship. The result is that many kids under the age of 18 have never actually been in Church. Parents ask me why their son or daughter has left the church now that they are in college. Frequently, the question is posed with the follow-on comment that college attacks a person’s faith. Sadly, the truth is their children are not in church because they have never been in church. Parents do not expect their children to automatically “do” sports – they nurture them in the game and they become Sports Fans. We cannot expect children to automatically “do Church.” We need to nurture our children in the Faith and make them God Fans.
No matter how young they are, bring your kids to church. No matter how much they interrupt, bring your kids to church. No matter how many questions they ask, bring your kids to church (if you don’t know the answers go together and ask the minister – that is why he is there). No matter how squirmy they are, bring your kids to church. Model what it means to be a Christian. Teach them what it means to be a Christian. Explain to them why you worship the way you do (if you don’t know ask the minister – that is what he is there for). Show them that all people of all ages, young and old alike, worship together. AND, have your children be an active part of the service, reading, singing, praying, worshipping. Do this and you will be training up the next generation of God Fans.
Raise a God a Fan – You will be Happy you did!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
God Guard You and Keep You,
the Rev’d Dr SG Rindahl