This area of Midst will challenge your thinking and practice IF, in your context, children are present in church for approximately the first 20 minutes before they ‘leave’ for their own programs. Exit now if you are not up for a challenge!
1st 20 minutes
Are children engaged in the first 20 minutes of church or are they just waiting to leave?
How important is the faith community’s weekly celebration of worship?
If we believe a typical Sunday morning church service is a very important part of our expression of our belief and practice then the next question to ask is, “How important is it that children are participating in it and engaged by it for at least these first 20 minutes?”
And even though children may very well be present, do we merely hope they are getting the ‘vibe’ of what is going on? What is the ‘vibe’ they are experiencing? What is the ‘vibe’ we would love them to experience? Are we intentional about shaping the ‘vibe’ they are experiencing. Has anyone asked these questions recently and what are they saying or doing as a result?
If you and your children are in for the first part (or more) of a church service, keep reading. We explore whether or not we are achieving what we hope to achieve.
Keep exploring particularly if you observe the children in your midst are just waiting to leave. The danger is that we are teaching children to leave and they are learning that this space and place of corporate celebrations of worship is not for them!
Midst is undergoing a major redevelopment.
The icons & topics below indicate the hope of links to come.
Some of the links below may be active but hopefully there is enough information shown to indicate the scope of the discussion and encourage further thought or research.
If you would like to follow anything up with us, feel free to use the link in the menu above to make contact.
What are children are sitting with, seeing, hearing and experiencing?
Whether we call it ‘the vibe’, culture, DNA or ethos … that thing that is sometimes so indescribable about a place or a gathering … it will be ‘caught’ by those sitting amongst it. Even teaching something we would love to see happen doesn’t guarantee change. Without the changes being modelled, reviewed, taught again and finally entrenched after a lot of hard work, the culture/ethos/DNA of the place will remain the same. And children will catch it.
We all have stories of growing up in certain family, sporting, work or peer cultures and, looking back, we can see how we have been enculturated by those experiences. It’s worth sharing and exploring some of these.
What aspects of the culture we need to celebrate and hang on to and what aspects need to be allowed to lapse.
Let’s celebrate and keep aspects our out culture that looks and feels like the Jesus’ version of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Let’s include other words not mentioned in this list … ones we also struggle to exhibit on those occasions we would love to be living, talking and thinking more like Christ. Perhaps, for example, generousity, grace, mercy, empowering leadership, inclusiveness and others.
It almost goes without saying that any cultural behaviours that aren’t Christian need to be challenged, addressed and changed. Practices that are oppressive, abusive, secretive, power-serving, exclusive, cliquy, prejudicial, misogynist … keep adding to this.
The point here is that an audit of our culture could help if it majored on the celebration of the things we would love to keep and quietly let go of the things we could do without, even if it is with due confession, repentance and apology.
Change doesn’t happen without careful thought and planning.
Once the need for change in some areas is established, things don’t often change. Ever wondered why? Ever become frustrated with little or now progress? Many theories about change abound and one of the simplest ones is the one outlined below.
The lovelyhood of change is love unless positive results are achieved in:
- communicating a clear, simple vision
- creating a holy dissatisfaction with the current situation
- providing a simple plan for some trial first steps
- gaining permission to proceed
- reviewing success or failure and celebration or learning respectively.
Some principles to value highly.
A whole section of MIDST is provided to describe principles of ministry that could be applied to the first 20 minutes of our celebrations of worship:
- to review and affirm current healthy practices; or
- to inform the process of making the changes we would love to see.
- connections with children
- participation with children
- an engagement with children, particularly in the Bible
- a sense of belonging with children
- all means of inviting and recognising the range of faith responses of children
Practical ideas to explore and adapt to your context.
The current list of topics in this area include:
- Parenting in the Pews
- My Prayer
- Side by side (huggable) moments with children
- Opening the Bible
- Church in a box
- Activities bag
- Sermon challenge
- Communion booklets
There are a number of options to help get the direction right for you in this area
- A phone or coffee conversation with Phil on this topic.
- A review of your first 20 minutes against the 5keys to affirm and encourage those areas you are doing well in and some suggestions for improvement where and if required.
- A presentation of an overview of these areas with discussion. (20 minutes or up to 1hr)
- A 4hr workshop exploring some of these themes in a interactive discussion.