Church: More Like Shrek

We’ve been having a lot of struggles with children and how they fit into the overall picture of theStory. We value our children and we have made it the point publicly many times that we want to make sure children are treated and given attention just as much as the adults. I don’t think our desire has changed at all in the last year. I think we still value kids and want them to get the most out of their experience with theStory and for adults to get the most out of the experience with the children. I think most of us would agree that we have really dropped the ball on this one. We have defaulted to just sending this kids out of the room into a weight room (we call it the dungeon), with usually one helper who has been doing it every week. We don’t really have an organized program for them or really an organized anything for them and its like we give up on them every single week by sending them into the dungeon hoping that they won’t come running out in costumes with crafts until the ‘important parts’ are over.

We are doing a lot of thinking of how this needs to work, and we are coming up with all the same ideas in which we see in all other churches. Things like buy a curriculum, split up the ages, have a fun safe space, rotate teachers on a schedule or hire a children’s pastor (you know with all that money we have as a church plant). We are at a loss for the most part. We want to make children a meaningful part of our Sunday expression but we end up getting them out of the way.

All this gave me a thought. I don’t know if we could do this at theStory on a consistent basis, but I would love to try and fail till I succeed at it a few times. Most of us have seen the movie Shrek (or a lot of other of those types of films). There is something about a movie like Shrek that is able to communicate to a room full of people no matter what age you are. If you are a child, any age, you love Shrek. It’s funny, stimulating and keeps you entertained and can teach you lots of things. Yet I can sit in the same room as these five year olds and enjoy the movie, but for an entire different reason. I’ll get things that they never will, but we are watching the same things. The movie has layers, like onions.

What if a church’s Sunday service was like Shrek. There is something wrapped in the service that speaks to everyone but its primarily a kids thing. What would that look like? Is that giving too much importance to kids? Or is that exactly what is looks like to teach adults what the kingdom of God really looks like, after all it does belong to them. What if we created a service every week for children and we incorporated things for adults amongst the chaos of what was going on. Why do we always do it the opposite? It would probably take a lot of time to create and maintain something that was able to connect children and adults at the same time, but I think that the positives it would bring to a community would be priceless. I think it would be worth it. Though I wonder if adults would get ticked off because they weren’t getting fed enough. Then I wonder how much adults would be growing if they were in constant teach mode to children.

These ideas seem far-fetched even to me. I’m just so frustrated right now with how children fit into a community. During the week it’s great. Children are amongst us during every aspect of us hanging out. During games, eating, watching television, trips and work we have children next to us, yet for some reason on Sunday we have to get rid of them to something more ‘age-appropriate’. It just doesn’t sit right with me yet sometimes and yet sometimes it makes perfect sense. I sound confused don’t I.

5 Comments

  • cakes have layers too!

  • Hi, I just discovered your blog. I love this post! And I think you are really onto something!

    At the end, your concerns about the adults not feeling ‘fed’ brought up another question for me: What if our expression of church was outward focused (teach the kids about the kingdom, they will teach us how to receive it) rather than inward focused (consumer mentality: someone feed me).

    Besides, I think it’s high time that believers mature beyond “being fed” by someone else and learn to feed themselves, just as a child develops this skill in life! :) Perhaps then growth would come (besides, we always grow more when we serve – what better way than to serve the children)? I don’t mean to say that we don’t feed each other, and learn from each other because that is important… I don’t know… just thinking out loud with you. But what you are saying is actually getting me really excited about the potential…

  • This Sarah girl comes out of nowhere and drops a bomb!!! “teach the kids about the kingdom, they will teach us how to receive it.” I love it. Alright Nathan, its up to you to feed that to me.

  • Hi again. I just heard a podcast by a guy called Bill Johnson. He was actually preaching about how Abraham’s promise wasn’t for Abraham – it was for future generations. The message was all about investing in the future generations because that’s a kingdom perspective (rather than looking for what we get out of it). So Abraham is an example of the positive side. On the negative side, Hezekiah missed it – he sinned, but rejoiced when the prophet told him that the negative consequences of his sin wouldn’t effect him in his lifetime, but future generations. Hezekiah didn’t have kingdom perspective. I’m not doing this message justice, but it really impacted me. I don’t know… I really think God is speaking to you about this and I think you should go for it!

  • good tension Nathan, we (westside) struggle with that too. I oftten talk about a community raising our kids; there are sporadic times there with us in our gatherings (like praying for their new school year or serving alongside us), yet at the same time they hear and learn different than adults… I’d love to learn more in this direction;

    here’s a link for you – though I know you’re not into mega churchces; but North Point actually has a weekly gathering where kids and adult learn together. you can opt to go to it instead of the other gathering. it’s called kidstuff; willow actually has a learning tool that families can experience together. reality is big or small, emerging or not, when kids are valued people try to do better.

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