Today I write to explain to the church family the strategy behind our program design and focus our thoughts on how we can best build a lifelong pattern of worship into our children. However, I do so as I raise concern about recent trends.
A recent analysis of the attendance patterns among our Jr. and Sr. High classes reveals that a large majority of these students do not attend the worship service even though they are on campus each week. On a typical Sunday there will be 95-100 students in the Jr. and Sr. High classes. It is obvious to even the casual observer the students in worship are not anywhere near those numbers.
What is even more concerning is that as we analyze our age graded program we find that many of these students have never attended the worship service on a regular basis even though the family is on campus each week. This is due to the fact that the majority of families with older children and teens split up at the 10 a.m. time slot. The kids go to Sunday school while the parents worship and then they all go home. This “one hour” experience focus is not allowing the older kids and teens to access the worship service.
This matters to us because the experience of inter-generational cooperate worship is the centerpiece of lifelong church involvement. If patterns of worship in an inter-generational setting are not established it weakens our ability to achieve our mission of building lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.
The point that I wish to make is that our program is designed to allow older kids and teens to participate in the worship experience and not detract from the ability of a family to worship with the musical format they prefer. With two contemporary services and a traditional service to choose from, families with teens and older children can worship either before the 10 a.m. Sunday school time or after and engage in both the Bible study experience as well as worship.
What this means is the practice of the family splitting up at 10 a.m. with the kids going to Sunday school and the parents going to worship, and then leaving after that one hour slot, is a decision for convenience that is detrimental to the development of our kids and teens as lifelong worshippers. I urge families to re-think that pattern of involvement.
We offer excellent Sunday Bible studies for adults at the 10 a.m. hour and I urge parents to access one of those studies (or start a new one) while the older kids and teens are in Sunday School and access worship together at either the 8:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. hours. Older kids and teens are developmentally able to engage in the worship and service time and benefit both from the experience and create a long term life pattern.
I am struck by the tragedy of Judges 2:10-11 may that not be true of us.
His and yours,
Pastor Marc Maffucci