So we’ve left yet another church because it was so boring I could cry. The last service I attended featured an interpretive dance to the song “Arise My Love” by the youth. I looked across their faces to read their particular emotions as the performance continued. Some were focusing quite hard to make certain they don’t mess up, some of the younger ones were amused, and at least one kid looked supremely bored – in the role of Jesus no less! Church youth are not performing monkeys. If we had them and the adults switch for a service, all chaos would break loose. Granted, the adults wouldn’t have known the steps to that dance, but then you couldn’t have gotten them together to practice in the first place. I wonder if the performances we ask of them are among the many reasons why over half of all church youth quit going once they hit college age. Every kid should be allowed the chance to say no without fear of pressure or causing dissapointment from their parents or other church members, no matter if their parents are occasional attendees, regulars, or church leaders. If the youth are asked to lead for a service, so should the church members. If they are asked to put on a play, so should their parents. If they’re asked to sing or dance, then bring the rest of the family on stage! Praise should never be a forced thing, spontaniety cannot be prompted by parental units. When the children sang out to honor Jesus, it was because they wanted to. I think God would much rather have the youth praise him if they would enjoy wanting to instead of being told what to do. We’re all children of God and it isn’t fair to single out the youngest of us to ‘be cute’ when the rest of us get a free pass to do nothing. So adults, to what music are you going to dance? (Even you Southern Baptists can spare one dance – even King David did that much!)
So what can we do to prevent our youth from dropping out of the faith? For one, we can help them by setting them on a firm foundation, two – we can ask if their faith is their own or their parents, three, we can encourage them to plug in by giving them oppotunities to take action in every area of the church – not just music or kids only. And perhaps most importantly, we help them to build on that foundation every single day. Just because a kid is born and raised in the church does not mean that it is right to treat him or her as a kid always. If they’re the future of the church, then it is up to us to make sure it’s a bright one. Well, at least we can equip them for that role when it is their turn to lead.