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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kids

“What’s the matter with kids today?”

Remember that song? I’ve been thinking of it this morning as I’m pondering some congregational ‘challenges’ regarding some of our beloved offspring. Oh my. What a dilemma some of us have.

We long to have more kids in our midst. We pine for the days of the packed Sunday school and get all nostalgic over memories of past summer picnics, Christmas pageants, Easter children’s choirs. Then in the next breath we bemoan the behaviour of the children who are present among us.

Is it OK for the pastor’s kids to be playing in the gym while the rest of us are meeting in the sanctuary? Shouldn’t that two-year-old’s mother restrain him when he does his reptile act under the pews and through the feet of the worshipers? Must we listen to this little story selected without much theological attention during our “children's moment”? How can we be expected to remain reverent when the youthful reader stumbles over the words, clearly not having rehearsed or perhaps even looked at the scripture before. (Why I remember when we practised for months to memorize all this lines of the nativity story!)

Some of my thoughts; I hope they help.

Perhaps our remembrances of the past have a bit of a glow. We do tend to view our memories through rose-coloured glasses. And those were different times. There are things we really do not want to repeat. The whole “children who are seen and not heard” attitude might just have something to do with why a whole generation of kids are not now bringing their young’uns out to church. Parenting styles do change, have changed, must change, will change. We who are older can sometimes help best by holding our critical thoughts in check.

But some of us who are responsible for those precious toddlers-to-teens might also try to be aware of the needs of the rest of us. A little chat about how many of our dear elder-saints view the Lord’s house and what they’re thinking when they appear to be gritting their teeth could help to bring some peace to our worshiping community.

I revert to my “one rule fits all” advice here people: talk among yourselves about how you’ll be in community and remain friends. And that means talking to each other, rather than about each other. There needs to be some tolerance, lots of love and patience, and maybe some willingness to be a little uncomfortable for the sake of someone else. That someone might be eight, or eighty. It will require some awareness and it might involve bringing a situation to someone’s attention who just didn’t notice. Be sensitive, be caring and remember Jesus' admonition had two parts: “Feed my sheep; feed my lambs.”

Posted by Marion

4 comments:

  1. This is very well said, Marion. I remember the "Seldom seen and never heard" days, and trust me they weren't that great. At the same time, I also understand that ears can grow more sensitive as they get older, and distracting sounds can make it very difficult to follow the person speaking.

    I'm not sure why this reminds me of Doctrine and Covenants 122:16-17, but it does. I especially like the last line. "Let nothing separate you from each other and the work whereunto you have been called; and I will be with you by my Spirit and presence of power unto the end." What a lovely promise!

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  2. Thank you Marion for this timely reminder, that we need to listen to the childen.

    I have had a couple of experiences, which have hopefully helped me to be senstive to the needs of children in a congregation, the first was at a Reunion when a young child was disturbing the then Women's Class, my mother commented loud enough to be heard, "why isn't that child in the nursery where he belongs" the other was when my children as youth were puttting on the service, and as they began the service, an elderly lady got up and walked out of church. These situations spoke loudly to me, that, that was not acceptable to God. I have vowed to always support our children, and youth in whatever endeavours they attempt. I do NOT want to repeat these errors, for we have been told if we must come before out Lord as little children.

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  3. Amen Amen. Involving children, teens and young adults in the worship service, committees and decision making process is the only way they will feel that this is their church, their congregation. We make a very deliberate effort to have 3-5 of these non-priesthood involved in every worship service, we even give the pulpit over to the more mature to deliver the morning's message. It is amazing how well they prepare and deliver their morning messages. I had an elderly member comment that it was too long a time when we didn't hear the noise of little peopl during the worship service, let's not make that mistake again.

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  4. Thanks for all your comments. Let me ask a question that isn't being addressed. Do you or your congregation do anything special to accommodate the needs of the older folk?

    Or are they (we) just expected to "suffer the little children" in silence--even when the "suffering" is quite genuine, given inevitable deterioration of sight/hearing/whatever?

    I love the caring comments about the children and youth, and love the idea of a mixed-generation congregation, but as I approach the other end of my life I know something of those needs too.

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