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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Did you have fun?

Last Sunday as we were making our way to the exit at our church, I overheard a father say to his very young son, "How was church? Did you have fun?" They were behind me in the hall and I never turned around to look, but I could tell that the father, like us, had just picked up his preschooler from children's church. His son didn't give the hoped-for answer.

"No? You didn't have fun? Oh, I'm sure you did! You always have fun in church! Didn't you go outside?"
"Well, wasn't that fun?"

A week earlier I caught myself having a similar conversation with a student from my 3rd grade Sunday school class. I was in the hallway visiting with her and her mother. Before I realized what I was doing I asked, "Did you have a good time in class today?" It was our first week with this group of 3rd graders, so I was curious about her reaction to the class. Still, immediately I realized that the question itself didn't match my priorities. 

My student graciously nodded her head that yes, she did have a good time. But I decided to correct myself.

"I'm glad you had fun, but actually that's not my first priority. My first priority is to teach you about God." I smiled at the two of them. "I'm really looking forward to our year. We're going to be detectives and solve the mystery of Christ's death."

Remembering this conversation as I heard the dad and his boy, I thought about the subtle ways we contradict our own convictions. Like me, that dad probably wants very much for his children to know Jesus and that is one of the reasons that he is in church. And yet, we as parents are in such a habit of asking our kids, "Did you have fun?" that we don't even realize we are reinforcing the wrong idea.

No one wants church to be a turn off for kids, but it isn't meant to be about entertaining them either. As we walked out of church last Sunday, the sermon about worship was fresh in our memories. Our pastor hammered in on the idea that worship is not about pleasing the congregant, it is about pleasing God. 

After-church conversations aren't always easy. We ask, "What did you learn about God?" and often the kids give a less-than-thrilling response. Still, we need to fight the urge to wonder if they are having fun and we need to resist the idea that the level of "fun" that they enjoy at church is a helpful measure of the value of the morning.

What do you ask your kids as you head home after church? Are you intentional about following up on what they are learning about God?


Pam said...

hey amy - i found you! :-)

this was a very thought provoking post. i loved it.

great to see you tonight!


Sharon said...

You are right on the money with this one. I usually try to ask them something about what the story was about, and then we talk a bit more about that. I like it when they can actually remember! But, sometimes they just can't. That's when I'm so glad I have a chat to the teachers after each class so I know what they were teaching about and what the story was based on. A little prompt can go a long way.

Joshua has just started at Anchor Boys on Monday nights and one of the things they get "points" for, such as correct uniform, is attendance at church on Sunday and if they can recall something of the Sunday school lesson (or sermon, if there's no Sunday school). It's great to see him recalling stories the next day and then later in the week talking about it when we look at their Sunday school artworks on the fridge or whatever.

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

It is a great habit to chat with the teachers when you pick up. I think it keep teachers focused, too, knowing that parents are following up. My 3rd grade parents rarely ask me anything about the class other than, "How is my son behaving?" I wish they cared more about what I'm teaching their kids.

Although I don't do it every week, as a Sunday school teacher I often tell the kids, "This is what you tell your parents!" when I emphasis the main point or principle of the morning.

At the end of the 3rd grade year, I challenge the kids to develop a habit of daily Bible reading and prayer and give them a prayer journal with a talk about devotions. I had one mom tell me, "We'll try! It is pretty busy in the summer!" as her daughter stood by listening. I found that sad, but it reflects our adult attitude toward spiritual formation. It is a secondary, not primary, focus of our lifestyle.

Your comment motivates me to follow up more with my kids teachers. Thanks!

mom24 said...

EXACTLY! I don't think that parents even realize that this is what they are doing. I am glad that our church sends home the student's work (and a summary sheet with the littler ones) so that dh and I can prompt them to remember. This way we can also look for ways to incorporate the lesson into their lives at home. I don't ever want church to be just a place that is just a break from than home or someplace to be entertained.
It also reminds me of why I'm glad that I homeschool! I don't like to feel 'separate' from what my kids are learning and I must never feel like (or let them think) that it's just babysitting!

Mrs. Edwards said...

Hi Andrea-
Since I wrote this post, I've been more aware of how often I ask my kids, "Did you have fun?" about all sorts of things. Even in our homeschool co-op I'm noticing that I tend to ask kids, "Was it fun?" rather than, "What did you learn?"

I'm trying to change my habits!

Ruth said...

Great post. I have definitely thought about this before, but still catch myself asking, "Did you have fun?". It's great to know that other parents are also thinking like this, and to be encouraged and spurred on.

Thank you :-)

Ruth xx

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