Maybe it is because there has been a lot of change in my life over the past few months or maybe it is because I am drinking too much church coffee, but for the past few weeks I have not been able to fall asleep. I find my mind begin to race with all the things that still need to be done from the day. Things like returning emails to people from church or that pile of crap on my desk that I have been avoiding.
In an effort to clear my mind and hopefully get some sleep I think it is time to work through some of these thoughts. Not all of them are worth the effort (like the dishes still in the sink or the yard that is a few days past needing to be mowed) and those are not the things I am thinking about at 10, 11, 0r 12 o’clock.
Around this time of the year families are making their last minute school year preparations. Students are purchasing new notebooks, shoes, clothes, and backpacks. Parents are eagerly awaiting the return of some normalcy to their daily routines. This is a stressful time of the year. And for the church similar things are occurring. Sunday school curriculum are being prepared, events and trips are being planned, and a new year in the life of the church (but it isn’t really the Church New Year) is about the be underway.
All of these preparations lead to concerns that maybe we are not quite ready. Do our kids have the right school supplies? Were those $250- shoes too much for our family budget? Do the church staff really know what they are doing?
This last question leads to emails and coffee time discussions.
“Does the new youth guy really know what our kids need?”
“We really need more “young” people in our church.”
“I wish those kids would stop running around!”
“You want me to lead Sunday School? I don’t think I can do that. You see I’ve been in my Sunday School class for quite some time now and couldn’t possibly consider leaving now.”
“Ugh, we got out of worship late again! Why can’t that preacher keep the service to 1 hour?! He is always over by 5 minutes”
These conversations are what I’ve been thinking about lately. And I do not think that its because I of my lack of equipping for youth ministry. I know what I lack and where, and I pray that the Holy Spirit does some work in those areas for me.
What I worried about is that more often that not, it seems that churches want to have a congregation FULL of teenagers and young adults but do not want to make room for them. For example, we want to a have a vibrant and full children and youth Sunday School program but the majority of youth and children’s pastors are scrambling this week to fill vacancies for groups that will begin meeting in 2 weeks. And is it really a bad thing to encourage children to have fun going to church? Aside from the beach, church is Camden’s favorite place to go. We encourage him to have fun there. Which again, makes me scratch my head as to why you wouldn’t want children enjoying church.
What I am worried about is when it comes to a worship service going late, is that really such a bad thing? And when we complain about this openly and loudly what are we saying to those around us (possibly visitors and teenagers)? Are we saying that we love church only when it fits into our schedule? Or that we could only imagine devoting exactly 1 hour a week (unless we get out early because that’s even better than getting out on time) to worshiping God? How does that then translate into what a teenager is hearing?
These are the questions and conversations that are keeping me up at night. And I know that some of this is me over analyzing small potatoes and making small things into big things. But at the very least, I need to figure these things out so I can get some rest.