Friday, October 2, 2009

A little advice for parents about church

A very little bit, OK? Not a big chunk of advice. More like a chocolate chip sized morsel.
Go to church because you want to go to church. Find a church that meets your spiritual needs and feeds your spirit.

Find a place with sermons that lift you right out of your seat, and music that makes you soar. Go where "your people" are, whoever they are (political? social? cause? whatever...), and where you feel "I'M HOME" as the closing hymn rolls.

If you come to church because you think you "should" or because your kids "need" religious education, you'll just feel that church is one more parenting chore you have to knock off your list.

And that's teaching your kids something other than how to really "do" church.

This time of year we get a lot of "stealth" visits to our church. Someone, sometimes a man but often a woman will stop by the Family Ministry table or a church leader will walk up to me and introduce a lone visitor. I get a couple of questions and sometimes, if I feel a nice affinity I say

"So is this your stealth visit?"

Usually they chuckle "Yeah, I'm here checking it out. I don't want to drag my kids to a lot of churches."

YES! Do this! I totally agree! See if this is a good church for your family!

But when you're deciding, don't forget one really important family member: YOU!

Visit, research, check out all the programming for kids. See if the church is serious about serving families. Read all the materials you can find on the website, in the hand outs, from the classes. But if the services leave you cold? Your kids are going to feel that church is one more thing that you do FOR them.

The truth is that church is really best when it's done in community; when we come together to talk about the big questions and wonder about what the answers might be, together. Children, adults, teens, elders, leaders--ALL of us.

When people make their "stealth" visit to our church I tell them about the other communities around. I say "if you need more 'God' try one of the three UCC churches in our area" and "if you really want a larger UU church there are two big ones pretty close by...."

I mention that we're a community who really cares about each other but we also ask a lot of each person. There aren't very many of us, usually you have to pull a little more than your own weight.

So, parents: come, visit, see if a church feels like a good fit for all of you. And remember that you count, too.

I hope you'll come visit my church, and pick up our materials, and find that you really are home.

And then I hope you'll check off about 25 boxes on your volunteer interest form! Because we have got a huge, amazing and smokin' program going and holy mother of all cows we cannot do this without some amazing help!

Or you know....maybe you'll do this at your local UU congregation. It's all good!


curlykidz said...


plaidshoes said...

So true!! I am very glad you put this out there. If the parents don't feel a connection, it just isn't the same for the child.