Today I went to a parent meeting at church regarding the middle school program. Since the beginning of school, the middle schoolers have alternated between sitting in the church service and meeting together as a group during the morning service that we traditionally attend. This is my daughter's first year in the middle school program and I have been quite satisfied with this change. For years now I have walked by the room where the middle schoolers meet and have seen nothing but chaos, loud music, and young leaders. Quite frankly, it didn't look like they were doing much of anything but mucking about. I came to the meeting today, newbie that I am, hopeful that other parents may be embracing this change as much as me and I couldn't have been more wrong.
They are up in arms, they want the old format back, well not everyone, but the few who talked...and talked...and talked again sure did. My view had been wrong they said, the kids did get some teaching the way that the group ran before. It came out slowly, over the course of the meeting that the Sunday mornings did not offer much in the way of teaching. Most of the parents claimed to have brought their children back for other kinds of meetings during the week. That doesn't really work for us, so I was glad to have much of the teaching concentrated on Sunday mornings and more of the fun during the week.
I must say that the minister in charge of this age group was extraordinarily professional and has a solid vision. Some of the more challenging parents referred to this as a "theory that doesn't apply well in practice." That depends, in my opinion, on what kind of parent you are. The resounding theme from the vocal group was, "my child doesn't want to come to church anymore." My thought is that they just shouldn't have a choice. Now don't get me wrong, I think that my children can have choices in many things, such as whether they want to bring or buy their lunch, who they invite to their birthday party, what they chose to wear on a given day as long as it is appropriate, but if your family value is that you go to church and you go to church together, then to church they should go. Sometimes church isn't fun. School often isn't fun, yet these parents do not give their children a choice about going or not going.
Maybe your family value is that each member decides for themselves whether they will go to church or not. It seemed that most of the parents present at the meeting today hold the value that they should all go to church together, but that they have middle schoolers who don't want to go because it isn't fun. This seems to be a child rearing method that I missed out on, even though these parents have children roughly the same age as mine, my husband and I just don't believe in letting the kids run the show. Good habits start at home. Every family should have traditions and values that all members participate in regardless of the desire factor, this sets the groundwork for children to learn delayed gratification and the long term value of sticking with something. Shame on these parents for using church as yet another entertainment medium.