Right now, there are bubbles and steam --in my pool room --where 4 young people from my church are having a New Year's Party. It was a last minute invitation and many we invited already had plans, were out of town, obligated to family gatherings -which didn't disappoint me. I almost was too tired to open my home! Big day of last minute tax work to do before the P.O. closed today. But my husband helped me when we found that at least 4 kids were coming! They started off with a new game while waiting on Pizza. And after frothy green sherbet punch and pizza, they headed for the pool.
Our church youth group was decimated when about 70 people or more left our church with their big home school families because we ordain women in our denomination--albeit infrequently. They scattered to different churches. A wave of Calvinists had left before these and landed in one church. We had been more of a community church with a lot of diversity --and it was fine for awhile. WE were bursting at the seams and had to build a new worship center. Many good friends were lost from our church after the split. We really felt abandoned --and left with the bills! But we've all maintained these old friendships, nevertheless. Lots of very charismatic/personable people but some had discovered the Bill Gothard home school movement, which was admirable in many ways, but there was a tendency on the part of participants to think they had discovered a new way for how families and churches should be run and it was a little strange as an emphasis to some of us--and it was very male chauvenistic, father as king. I actually think we need MORE of that --more respect by wives for husbands --and more men feeling really responsible for their families.
WE ran our church with male headship largely--and we still do. Though the women are "administrating" all but one Christian Education department--because we have time and the interest. I keep a low profile in my job. And a woman leads worship ministries now --and we actually have had more harmony in that department since --in more ways than one -the harmony, I mean. It's probably because she really knows what she wants musically and knows how to pursue it diplomatically --and there aren't any temperamental male musicians bristling because she's a woman.
In fact, I think our church is at its lowest level of tensions and squabbles that it's ever been, though there was a little stress over new flooring. I think because we are more homogenous --not so much diversity in doctrine and lifestyles. Moreover, our pastor has really preached the themes of love, forgiveness, humility.
We had 21 in our children's Jr. Church Choir for the cantata, 11 middle-school (plus and minus a couple grades)who did our angel/shepherds/Irish dance numbers. I think they probably bonded! We had only a couple of teens singing in the adult choir this year and were glad for their talents and willingness to sing with us old folks.
CLC is booming with about 60 kids in attendance Wed. nights, by busing kids in from Spencer Twp. --counting teachers' babies in nursery, pre-schoolers thru 6th. I have 20 in my Trailblazers' group.
Youth group is small but potentially mighty with neat kids. And the QUIZ TEAM is a really cohesive group of about 10? who get together every Sunday evening to study the Bible and travel to a Michigan church one Saturday a month to quiz other church teams. Our young intellectual coaches are experienced quizzers --and that's been an on-going tradition at our church. We've always had top-notch quiz coaches --like "measureayear" and her fiance.
I have 2 boys and 2 girls in the pool now, ages grade 5 through 9 --3 are siblings.
It's my desire to see our youth build fellowship --where they enjoy being together --as a nucleous for really healthy future youth group. We have 7 in my middle school S.S. class and they memorized verses of the Love chapter and recited them in order for the Sunday School Christmas Program --which was excellent --the best ever in recent years with a signed (for the deaf) Silent Night performance by all the kids who are beginning to sound good --and 5 instrumental solos and one vocal of very good quality --and a wonderful rendition of the Nativity story by grades K-2 (the shepherds, on their own, got in a huddle to decide to go to Bethlehem to see this wonderful thing) And Mary was cute as a button as she "pondered all these things in her heart." And Joseph was a reluctant spouse making many faces. The angels were lovely. Grades 3-5 memorized pieces.
WE are a wonderful small church for children's ministries, I think --and for music. And for really good sermons by our pastor. And we'd love to gain a bass player and more trained-quality soloists --another guitar.
And we don't want to steal from other congregations --except Cedar Creek who says they try to talk their people into joining congregations like ours --as they want to have room for the "seekers." Instead, I think they are just getting the disenchanted from other churches who may just want to observe, rather than participate.
The Bible says they will know we are Christians by our love for each other! as well as all the other loves Jesus taught us. This is the challenge of the church. Each group will think it's right about its different doctrines, etc., but we must maintain our love through all differences. "In honor preferring one another." "Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought."
I'm no less challenged than anyone else. But I do remember a wonderful experience in the Lord when I was 18 --when the ability to be joyful and loving was indeed new and fresh --like a baptism of the Spirit. I still have it --I'm just tired! Physically that is. Nevertheless, I feel the Lord has opened opportunities to me with kids --and in ministries.
Well, I better go make sure no one has drowned!
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible