Achtemeier, Elizabeth. "The Year of the Child." Presbyterians Pro-Life News. Fall 2000.
Keywords: children, worship, teaching
"How should we raise that child to know the Lord? How can children be nurtured to become worshipers and followers of Jesus Christ?" We complain in the church that we are losing many of our young people. Why is that the case? What are we doing wrong?
Perhaps the answer can be given by describing a scene that greets many of us every Sunday morning. An eight or nine-year boy occupies the pew in front of us. He is absorbed in reading a Marvel Comic book. While the congregation stands, he sits and reads. He joins in none of the hymns. He participates in none of the prayers. He confesses none of the creeds. After the scripture reading and during the hymn, his younger sister is dismissed to a children’s class, where she will color or play a game or perhaps listen to a story. Disgustedly, the boy watches her go and gets out a toy car to run along the pew bench and over his mother’s leg. The boy is bodily in church, but obviously he is not really there. At the end of the service, he pushes through the crowd and rushes for the freedom of the outdoors. Next Sunday the scene will be repeated. And the mother and father will wonder why their children have no interest in the faith of the church.
Could it be that we lose such young people to discipleship because we do not urge them to participate in the worship of the Body of Christ, which is the center of the Christian life? When they are very young, we dismiss children from worship to classes that they can "better understand." That way they bother neither the preacher nor the parents. When they are youths, we let them entertain themselves, while we worship.
--Elizabeth Achtemeier is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher