Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Mattress-Springs Church

Just the other day in our kitchen, actually this last Sunday, I had a deep conversation with a young adult who is heading off to college for his freshman year.  This young man, I need to tell you, has made some incredible personal improvements over the past two years.   I have a lot of respect for him and appreciate the good influence he is on our sons.  Our conversation quickly turned to the new independence he will soon experience, living on his own, being out from under mom & dad's daily supervision, and the likes.

My burning question was revolving around his spiritual growth, and what he would do about finding a church home.  That's when the conversation got interesting.  He told me he wasn't sure he was interested in finding a church right away...  No, he hasn't lost his faith.  Not, he's not even agnostic.  He's... well he, he is a kid who grew up going to church every Sunday, but.  But, what he said was revealing.

He said he wasn't sure about finding a new Church right away because of a familiar phenomena you are probably aware of.  Parents yelling, "It's time to wake up for Church, get up now for Church!"

Being threatened with being grounded or yelled at, to this young man, feels like a turn-off to going to church when the decision is now his.  By the way, I think he's going to stay in the grove and find a good church family.  My response was, "I hope you don't end up in the "Mattress Springs Church.""  (That's a joke, it means staying in bed on Sunday morning, i.e., bed-mattress...)

 My other response to the young man, was that if it was opening night for a new movie, our children are on the move, self-motivated, but Sunday mornings, what can we do?  Parents feel like church is so important, and out of frustration with limited resources, we lose our patience, and raise our voices.  I know I have.

So, what do we learn from this?  Myself, I'm guilty of having yelled at our kids, to get up on Sunday.  Ouch.    There's probably no good excuse, on either side, for us as parents to yell, or for kid to drag their feet.

What do we learn?  Church should be more appealing to young people.  Not diluted or dumbed-down, I never said that, but appealing.  What can we all do to adapt the way we gather, in such a way that the congregation can out-live us...?  Pressing question; needs answers.

As parents, our best intention is to get our kids off to church, but our efforts can be counter-productive if we aren't careful.  Myself, I'm going to more aware of how I try to get my younger kids up and out the door Sunday mornings.

One more idea: Seek out college age kids you know, help nurture their faith and be an encourager.  They are in a huge time of transition, these are the days where they firmly establish their independence and, establish life-long habits that carry into eternity.


Judah and Michelle said...

In my experience with children and college aged ministries, the key is to get them involved as quickly (early) as possible. The motto: "there is always someone you can teach", was a staple that we used. We have college students teaching middle school classes, and have them performing in skits for large group experiences. Young adults frequently run sound/video during worship. We treat high school aged similarly. My favorite that I have seen recently is assigning 9-11 year olds the "job" of being a buddy to a visitor that come son Sunday mornings. Again, the sooner in age this is done, the less likely they are to attend the mattress-spring church....

Based on the experience I have had with young adults, the reason they drop out of church (80-90% right out of high school) is because the church doesn't ask them to help. The question that is thrown back at me is, "why should I come when there is nothing for me to do?" Corporate church assumes they want their own class, their own worship services, drinks and donuts, etc. The more the corporate church has them involved (ministries), allow them to be creative (rely on the Holy Spirit), the more the church will grow.

Craig Cottongim said...

Judah, excellent perspective. People who are involved are more connected. Thank for your thoughts!