I am continuing to work on my book for it’s release. This past week I made a big step toward this end, by officially starting “In His Grip Publishing”. It really is not as grandiose as it sounds, my only intention for this small business is to publish my own books, but it is exciting none-the-less.
Over the past week or so I have had a similar conversation several times about how our church is taking steps to have all of our different ministries working together for the same goal and promote inter-generational ministry. These conversations have led me to giving you another excerpt from my book, this is from chapter 5:
Youth ministry tradition promotes the typical view that teenagers need their own service, their own music, and their own programs. When a family attends church on Sunday morning, the current tradition has everyone parting ways once they get out of the car. Each family member attends his or her own age-specific service for an hour, and then meets back at the car to go home. In past years, church tradition followed the format of each person attending an age-specific Sunday school class, and then the whole family went to the main worship service together. I understand why tradition moved us away from Sunday school; we have not done it for years in my church. But tradition didn’t just move away from Sunday school, it eliminated the multi-generational interaction within the church and created a number of age-specific, independent congregations that share a facility. The side effects of the tradition shift are deeply affecting the entire body of Christ.
Teenagers are affected because they love that church is flashy and entertaining, plays their kind of music, and matches pop culture as much as possible. But, inevitably, the worst thing possible for them happens: they get too old to attend. And once they graduate, they are expected to jump right into the adult programs. Yet they have never attended adult programs before and the people are different, the music is different, the messages are boring and not applicable to their everyday life (you and I know that’s not really true, but they don’t).
Now they are faced with one of two options: stop going or change the adult service to be more like the youth service. Option number one is the easiest, and the mass exodus after graduation starts to be part of the new tradition. Or they follow option number two which in turn makes everyone else involved in the adult service upset, and what we now know as the “worship war” begins.
The adults in the church are also affected by this trend, and it is deeper than just fighting for the hymnal to stay in the sanctuary. It drastically changes how they view the teenagers in the church. With everyone split in different rooms, most adults never see or interact with a teenager while at church. They never hear the same message, sing the same songs, or see a teenager’s faith grow. The perception becomes that we push the teenagers into the basement or the extra room and entertain them until they are ready for real church. This perception reduces teenagers to the “church of tomorrow.”
If you have been a youth worker for more than a day, you already know that some teenagers have a stronger and more mature faith than many adults. But with the “church of tomorrow” label stamped on their forehead, their roles in the church get reduced to manual labor or babysitting. I have no issue with youth doing these jobs. The problem arises when all the tasks that no one else wants to do get thrown down to the youth in the name of service—especially when it is ok for teenagers to miss out on church so the adults don’t have to.
If every ministry runs independently of each other, what you end up with is a bunch of little churches meeting in the same building fighting against other church ministries for facility, budget, and volunteers.