“I’ve never hung out with my family this much before.”
— First Church Member, 17
For all of the struggles, anxieties, and challenges of this season, it has offered a lot of First Church an unexpected gift: family time.
Our church’s old Sunday morning rhythm consisted of age-segregated ministries and staff – children, youth and adults all experienced faith formation in unique ways – which is good! It allowed us to create specialized content and focus on the uniqueness of each of those life-stages. But now, our Sunday mornings look different. Many of our families are in their pajamas, on the couch, worshipping together. Which is something we didn’t always do before.
While we are in this season, you’ll be receiving simple “Family Sunday School” guides each week. These aren’t for children, or teenagers, or adults, they are for whole families to talk about faith together, maybe in a way we didn’t have a chance to before. There are different questions aimed at different age levels, including ones for adults. There won’t be printable worksheets or puppets or songs or object lessons, I confidently trust that Mister Mark and Dr. Mike have got that under control, and there wont be over-the-top games or Instagram challenges (I know when I need to stay in my lane), it will just be a few simple questions to talk through together. You can pull them up on your phone and yell them at each other from across the kitchen while you clean up breakfast.
When I was in my early 20’s, I lived with my parents for a few months, and we took a Sunday school class together. It was an intentionally intergenerational class and we talked through things like money, loss, fathers and mothers, parenthood, and growing up. I listened to my parents work through their thoughts about life and their struggles, I listened to them narrate their own experience, and where they saw God in it. It was unbelievably meaningful to me. We had never had the chance to have those conversations before. I saw my mother doing devotionals and reading scripture every day, but it had never occurred to me to ask her what God was teaching her through it, what she was still learning.
Not every kid is going to understand what their parents mean by what God is teaching them, and might go back to Legos half-way through their answers, and I know parents might very well roll their eyes at a teenager trying to explain what they’ve learned since they were younger, but I fundamentally believe the exercise is still good. Because whether through rolled eyes or over legos, we can create a moment when we had family conversations about faith, when we learned about the evolving humanity and persistent divinity in each other. And that is good.
I am so grateful to have had that time with my parents, my father has since passed away, and I’m glad I got the chance to know him not just as a father, but as a person and a Christian. Not every answer needs to be meaningful, not every moment needs to be manicured. I’ve watched the mom posts devolve from color-coded homeschool schedules to “where can I get to-go margaritas?” over these past few weeks and the absolute last thing I want to do is add another unrealistic expectation.
So, go through the questions, or don’t, do it some weeks and not others, ask it over a walk or while folding laundry, or whenever works for your family. Don’t expect magic, but do expect that these little moments of love and connection, of vulnerability and humanity and growth to add up, and make a bigger impression than we know until those little moments are long past.
This season is hard, and there will be a lot to unpack in the months and years to come, but maybe it can also be a season where we spent a little time talking about things we didn’t talk about before, a season where we were a little more together.
Thanks for being part of this community, for joining us online, know that we miss and love you!
Director of Youth Ministries