A year ago today I “invented” something I called “couch church,” and I talked about it at the time. So here we are a year later, and though there’s still a bit of “What about the kids?” in us, I think we’re more relaxed about it. A year ago I didn’t fully realize how much spiritual formation kids will get on their own without being “talked down to.” I never imagined at the time that kids as young as ours would enjoy an Anglican church meeting, and like taking communion there. But that was then, this is now. There was a saying in charismatic circles that kids don’t receive a “junior Holy Spirit,” and there is a corollary I suppose that their spritual formation should never be looked upon as a “junior” version of what their parents undergo.
We went out to eat at Montana’s Restaurant last night, and of course in addition to a game and some crayons for the wait, the kids got their own menu filled with a variety of kids meals from which to choose. I myself had the meatloaf, but that’s irrelevant to my point. When we go to St. Ben’s, the order of service is provided in the form of a menu, like the plastic-covered ones you get in your average restaurant with the contents slipped inside and readily changeable for specials or price increases (that last part came from the cynic). This is done to remind people of the “table” aspect that the community works at keeping sight of. The point though, is that there is no kids menu. Perhaps this is as it should be.
We did couch church yesterday. It was not as resounding a “success” as it sometimes is, with our youngest being very distracted… but our eldest read a story from her Bible and asked questions about it, taking the initiative to do so, and talking about joy. She then created a craft that tied in with the theme of joy… so they had a story and a craft (okay, I also gave them a cookie) but the happy thing is that that they’re starting to dig for themselves, to share with each another. If “couch church” ever has an essence of its own that it can start to take upon itself, I hope that will be it… sharing with each other the treasures we’ve dug up. And no kids’ menu.
Good info and ideas – I like when the conversation gets practical.
we did ‘kitchen table church’ on sunday and it was a great time for us – we lit our advent candle and talked about all of the symbolism around the bottom of the candle holder. gave them a bigger picture to framework the birth story into.
no kids menu here either. that’s a great metaphor!
Wierd – I did the same advent wreath with my kids this year (cut-out hands and all). I’m still not totally sure of the meanings and messages around advent, and I haven’t found kid-friendly resources for explaining it.
While I don’t dismiss the formalized activities, and hope to do more of them, my focus is much more on walking out life with my kids. i.e. spirituality is not something that we set aside time to do, it should permeate everything – what Deut 6 points out. When we are talking about something that concerns us or the kids (anything from a different house to the schoolyard bully) we stop and pray. We talk about how God views us, what he wants for us. I had the formal stuff growing up, but almost never the informal. I’d rather the balance be on walking it out than formulating activities.