So here are the questions that go with the last post. You have people from my own generation who no longer attend church, you have a population who have chosen the House Church movement, you have young parents who want to give their children a more holistic perspective and lifestyle and who want to raise compassionate, caring, justice-aware, environmentally-sensitive children and there are probably other groups with children of varying ages who have become disillusioned with "church" as we know it. And there are "post-modern" options and church plants and people trying to reach the "unchurched." There's a lot going on out there.
If so many people feel disconnected from the "traditional church" (whatever form that takes), not only young parents though they are perhaps the most relevant to Children and Family Ministers but even people in their 50's and 60's (another generation) my question is why? Are these people looking for something that isn't Biblical? Community is definitely Biblical, the Hebrews were much more holistic than most of the other cultures influencing Christianity, justice and stewarding His creation are definitely on His agenda, loving God with all of your being, loving your neighbor as yourself are all in God's Book. What's the problem? What's the disconnect?
What needs to change?
Some circles would label it "rebellion" or maybe they don't use a word quite that strong. They put it back on the people who leave: "It's their fault!" But another perspective is that if these are indeed God's sheep, there are thousands of "lost sheep" who believe they know who their shepherd is but they're having a really hard time finding their "flock." The scriptures tell us stories of sheep and shepherds and lost sheep. Are they "not our problem" because they aren't part of our church or they aren't in our "demographic?" There are some church plants specifically targeting many of these groups. Are people standing in line to get in? Gee, why not? Is God trying to do something new and the sheep are getting the message but they can't find shepherds?
What about the children?
Parents of every generation will be trying to do things better and do things differently for their children. Every generation will wrestle. Every generation of parents will wrestle. Assuming that these are parents who care about faith, God, walking right with God and they care about their children - what's going on? Are they over protective? Are young parents, even in churches, more protective and particular about things that parents were less concerned about 25 years ago? Are we looking for community but basing our definitions on less than realistic day to day social and relational expectations? If that's true of a generation who had less media isolation, what are the implications for those who are children now? An online community is the only safe community - the only safe way to interact with people?
Perhaps our goal is to please God but He is the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd takes excellent care of His sheep. He makes sure their needs are met or he loses them. For a professional shepherd, that's a financial loss. I'd like to believe that God cares about more than that. But even if it's only financial, if sheep wander and get lost, he goes looking for them until he finds them. He stands watch over the young ewe giving birth for the first time going through a difficult labor so both ewe and lambs survive. Maybe all of this is labor pains - a difficult labor to bring forth something new. . . though there is nothing new under the sun . . . but life is always new and painful, growing and changing.
So Lord, in the greater context of the word, what about Your children?