the importance of children

February 25, 2008

funny, I can’t seem to get onto the WordPress site, luckily the WordPress Mobile site is still working.

I had a lecturer in my first year at university who said something that really stuck. I guess that’s the dream of any teacher, to say something that would actually be remembered. Well, Prof Malan Nel (a contributor to Four views of Youth Ministry with his inclusive congregational approach) actually had some success with me, it would seem. He made the remark once that: “When we take children out of the church service, it is the adults that will loose out, not the children”. I’ve been thinking about this a lot these past few days.

First I thought about it on Sunday, when I started the sermon by asking some questions concerning the image that this congregation present to outsiders. There was a dead silence, the worst fear of a pastor asking questions in church, and the one reason why I will maybe stop asking questions in church. And then a little boy from a children’s home nearby put up his hand, and started by saying that when people come into our church, they see the TV (the projector screen:-)). The conversation was largely children, and much of it one could say didn’t really touch upon the depth of the issue, but it did open things up so that adults and teenagers can participate as well. And this I have seen happening time and again. If we take the children out of our service, into a separate children’s service, then our adults will loose out (and I will have a much more difficult task preaching).

Then on Friday I went to see the University of Pretoria’s Children’s Theatre production. It was presented by the second year class of last year, now starting their third year. I mailed the person administrating it, asking for two tickets, one for me, one for Maryke. When I got there, they had an adult and a child ticket, instead of two student tickets. When I said that I actually want two student tickets, the girl helping us replied with “wow!”, and I guess with good reason.

Friday was really a bad day for me. Thursday evenings youth get-together was a total mess-up, and then I got a phone call on Friday morning saying that the piano was broken, plus, I forgot to lock three doors! So I was just down in the dumps, ready to give up youth ministry, believing that I won’t ever work as a youth pastor, bla bla bla… And with this in mind I went into the theatre. The whole theatre was full of moms with pre-school children, and the show started…

Nothing fancy really. Colorful costumes, a little decor, actors with a lot of energy, and little children absolutely LOVING the show. I don’t think I would have been able to watch the hour and a half show if I saw it on TV, I mean really, it’s really a pre-school show. But when sitting between these little kids, the show started living. Much like what happens in the absolutely brilliant movie Finding Neverland. Although I wasn’t out of my depressing mood until basically this morning, thanks to the most amazing colleagues, everything just felt so much lighter after the show. These children also help us with.

If we take our children out of our church services, our adults will lose out. If we start children’s services, the biggest problem may not be the fact that untrained people present it, but the fact that the church loses out on the presence of children in worship.


One Response to “the importance of children”

  1. Steve Says:

    I have a memory going back to the time when TV was first introduced in South Africa, and the number of people attending evening services dropped from an average of 200 to an average of 30-40, and visitors were very rare.

    We had two youth groups, one for the high school kids, and another for the primary school kids (who are now probably older than you, Cobus!) Sometimes we would get them to lead the evening service.

    The first time the junior youth group led it, the congregation easily fitted in the choir stalls (it was an Anglican church), and just before the service started some new people arrived, about five of them.

    None of us knew what the kids had planned, but the visitors were probably very surprised to be approached by a 10-year-old who asked them to go up and join the rest in the choir stalls, and when they had done so, gave them pencils and pieces of paper and told to write down their sins.

    A little later the kids marched the whole congregation outside, and made a bonfire of the pieces of paper. The kids loved active worship, and if the junior youth group was leading it, you could be sure that there would be a procession of some sort.

    And yes, I think that if they hadn’t been there, the adults would have missed a lot.

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