Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two Tables: JH & The Church?

Have we created 2 tables in our homes and in our church this holiday, and for the that matter year around.  Has the church taken the good stuff that we reserve for "Big Church" away from the MS/JH students.  Is there an adult table and a kids table at our churches.  Does is look like the "sanctuary" and the "youth room" (or building)?  Is there a mind-set that adults belong here and the MS/JHers belong over there?

Something I am discovering, more than ever is not something new, but something old.  I am returning to a way of doing church that I and my wife grew up with.  There are fancy words like "family style", "inter-generational" and even "thinking orange", but it to me it is just going back to my JH and SH years.  It also is a return to my first youth ministry.  Where literally there were only tables, not youth and adult.  We would have holiday fellowship suppers and people would sit mixed old & young, families & singles.  No one had to tell us that it was a "paradigm" or a "model" it was just church.  Sunday mornings everyone separated for age appropriate Sunday School and came together for worship service.  There was not another youth worship happening separate.    Before and after church older adults would talk to the younger generation, ask them about their week and for prayer requests.  Once again not because anyone sold them on a new way, it just was the way it was.

What I am returning to or at least working at, is bringing back some of the connections between the ages and rejoining the tables of our church.  I used the word "work" because it is actually work.  What I am seeing is amazing!  We invited an older retired missionary couple to join us for a day of our summer service trip.  I invited the senior adult pastor's wife to share her testimony.  We have set up MS/JH students to be jr. ushers, in order to be a part of the "big church" service.  There is more, but those are just a few examples.  What we are seeing is engagement and excitement on both sides.

What do you think?  What is going in your setting in context?  Do you think there is 2 tables?  Should there be 2 tables?

Fuller Youth Institute, through the research, writing and work of Kara Powell and Brad Griffith think so, and they are challenging us through their recent work with "Sticky Faith".