the disappearance of childhood in our churches?

i’m a big fan of  neal postman’s idea that we’ve shrunk the season of childhood for our children. he suggests that most of what we offer kids in our culture is actually mini-adult type activities, instead of being purely childlike activities reserved only for the special season of childhood.

i find that i’m on the lookout for evidence of this all around me. and my latest victim: the church!

maybe, just maybe there are some traditions that we have in our churches that contribute less to childlike acts of faith formation and instead actually contribute to introducing our children to an adult faith perspective far too soon.

maybe traditions like:

1. children’s choir i’m going to get in big trouble for this one.

sometimes the children’s choir appears to me as mini-training for future adult choir members. not always, but sometimes i wonder what the unique childlike faith experience is for kids that can be experienced in their choirs. how are we contributing to childlike faith when we encourage kids to stand up in front of adults and sing songs, hopefully to be followed by thunderous applause from the adults?  but i’m open. convince me otherwise.

2. exposing children to inappropriate scripture

and i’m not talking about the book of song of solomon. i’m talking about stories in the bible that expose children to violence or confusing symbolic metaphors. i love how intolerant we are towards violence in video games or movies for children, but we often don’t apply the same logic to the loads of stories in the bible which include similar types of violence.  what if we saved some stories for adults only, and passed them on to our children only when their season of childhood was officially over?

3. children’s games and play time: postman says, “children’s games, in a phrase, are an endangered species. little league baseball and pee wee football, for example, not only are supervised by adults but are modeled in every possible way on big league sports” (p. 4).  even in our churches, we create games with complicated rules and fierce competition instead of encouraging our children to play and participate for their own childlike enjoyment and learning.

while we have made great progress in creating child specific areas in the church, with kid friendly decor and child specific curriculum and activities, i think there is still further work to be done. and i’m anxious for the church to take the lead in re-establishing the season of childhood in our culture.

i love benjamin franklin’s famous saying, “our whole life is but a greater and longer childhood.”


One response to this post.

  1. I agree. Too many times we don’t let kids be kids. I think you have some wise words here – words that should make us evaluate what we’re doing and ask if it’s the things we SHOULD be doing. Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: