December 21, 2011 — Without infringing on the great work done by Doris Davis, I wonder if we might be able to find some practical ways with which to address the question of the separation of our congregation into age related groups in Sunday school.
You ask why we should be concerned about this and I respond with some questions. Do the older members of our congregation know the names of the children and their parents in our church? Does fellowship exist across the generations? If our answers are no, we may want to consider some creative planning to bring together the different age groups in our church.
This is a good thing to do because it promotes love, unity and warm fellowship. Such intentional embracing of all the members of Christ’s body is very instructive to young ones.
It was not so long ago that congregations worshiped together without the partitioning we often see in the church today; old and young tended to mix and mingle more both in and outside the church walls, and both benefited from it. Dividing up the church into age groups is a fairly recent innovation, and as with all progress, something was lost even as something was gained.
Children certainly can benefit from a time of Bible teaching and instruction geared toward their cognitive development, and moms certainly appreciate being able to sit through a service without distractions! And who does not love those wonderful Young Disciples moments? But the result of each age group evolving into separate ministries with its own interests and focus can be a segregation that doesn’t please God.
Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing as you think through how to bring together young and old in our church:
• Have our children’s Sunday school classes pay a short visit to an adult or senior Sunday school class. (Plan this ahead with both teachers.) Sing a favorite song for them, or recite a memorized Scripture passage. Encourage introductions and eye contact!
• Have children “adopt” elderly shut-in members of our church. Make cards and send gifts; try to post pictures so the ones who haven’t met him or her can visualize with whom they’re communicating.
• Make cards and simple gifts for new moms and babies, or for youth celebrating birthdays.
It’s exciting to think how such simple efforts could result in such rich benefits to the church. Where the motive is to promote love and fellowship among members of Christ’s body, God is honored and glorified and the church is built up.
Mac Noden’s Weekly Musings are a source of inspiration to many of us. Enjoy.