Sunday, June 12, 2005

Reflection and Renewal

In addition to my position in the Education Department at Calvin, for the last 14 years my wife and I have also directed children’s ministries at our church, a job which has some real benefits. We get to know some children over the course of a number of years so that now, kids who are graduating from college were in our programs since 2nd grade. We get to see kids go from being held in their parents’ arms at baptism to participating in children’s worship and Sunday School, to being active members of our worshipping communities. In addition, many of them help out in our programs as leaders or teachers passing on some of the things they learned from their teachers. It’s a real gift for us to have been in this church for so long in this position.

But, church staff positions are draining and, because we have a staff position the church has left it up to us to fit vacations in. We’re not very good at that and so, consequently, over the past 14 years we’ve missed probably less than 20 Sundays, and even when we’ve missed we’ve often made sure that things are covered.

This summer, however, we asked the church council for two months with no responsibilities for refection and renewal, which they granted us. Today marks the first Sunday. It is wonderful. We went and visited another church with quite a different worship style and – here’s the best part – got there just in time for the service and left right afterward! We didn't have to plan for the day, nor did we have to put in extra hours thinking about the service ahead of time. Amazing.

We haven’t turned off our brains however and spent a good hour debriefing on the service we attended afterward. We have been challenged to think about how children fit into worship at a church with a very contemporary style – this isn’t clear to us at this point. We know that the church we visited has some active programs for children but when there is a contemporary service, very slick and professionally presented with few of the trappings of traditional church, is there a place for children to be included? They can watch and sing along but is there more to it than that?


Ron Rienstra said...


The other Sunday when we also had a "week off" from church responsibilities, we visited the local Episcopalian congregation that I think does worship well. Little Pip said that he likes that church better than the church with the guitars "because we get to kneel." Interesting that he feels he participates in the worship this way.

(It should be noted, by the way, that the Kneeling church also does employ guitars, though with not the same level of conspicuousness as some other churches.)

Anonymous said...

Stybba here:
Being part of an upstart church has many blessing as well as a few drawbacks.

My wife is a deaconess and she has things going on most evenings of the week. Recently, of friend of hers told her that there wasn't enough fellowship. Ev's responce was that there is so much fellowhip she's feeling "churched-out".

I work every other Sunday but on my Sunday off I help to unload the trailer and set up the park district building where we hold our service. Typically, I arrive at 0830 or 0900 and leave around 1230 or even as late as 1300 hours. These long hours are wearing and I would enjoy time to be able to go to church and then leave.

Last Sunday we had our first baptism as Faith Ministries Community Church and many of us arrived at 0600 to set up. We had a mobile baptismal we had to prepare on top of everything else plus we rearranged the whole set up so there was a lot of discussion about where to put things. Surprisingly I was out of there reasonably quick (around 1245) only because Ev was pressuring me to get out. I felt bad for leaving so soon because we needed to get the baptismal prepared for packing up into its trailer. We took our daughter to lunch immediately afterward as she was baptized and then came home to prepare for an all church meeting which started at 1500 hours. The meeting then lasted several hours and we fed everyone. We had about 20 people in our basement that evening and the last person left around 2100 hours.

I love having people over and I love the church fellowship but when things are happeing nearly every night of the week there is a burn-out factor that one approaches and we (Ev and I) need to be aware enough to step back and take some time for ourselves.

Also, in the two years that FMCC has existed we still don't have decent children's programs making our church lacking for the needs of those with kidz. For this reason Ev and I have considered moving on to another church where the needs of our kids can be met more appropriately. If this occurs it will probably happen come September.

When we came to FMCC we were already plugged into another church. Now after two years we may end up back there.

There was a type of renewal that occurred with many people as we started FMCC. Two years later we are at a crossroads where many of us feel as though we need renewal again.