Saturday, March 01, 2008

Warning: Your Kids' Souls May be in Danger!

Here's my newsletter column. I feel good about speaking my truth on church attendance. Let's see what the rest of the gang thinks. Ha!

WARNING! If you do not want to know what I really think about church attendance, and especially children’s church attendance, read no further.

Okay, for everyone still reading, here it is. Church is a spiritual community of seekers, of servers, and of advocates for freedom, reason and diversity. We have important work to do on ourselves and in the world. That said, there’s nothing wrong with having lots of fun doing it! As you know, I am all for dancing, shouting, singing, eating, and playing together. And laughing. Especially laughing.

But, it’s no laughing matter that over and over, I see people who have allowed their children to eschew church attendance coming back around and talking about some very serious issues their kids have had to face. And, I see people who have themselves decided church is optional come crawling back when illness, tragedy, death and despair loom large, acknowledging that they really do need an actual physical place to go to tend to their spirits.

That doesn’t mean I think that all UU kids will avoid troubles and all who drift will be in danger! Heck, my own sons have hit just about every bump in the road you could dream up. They almost never come to church now that they are adults. But when I see them treat people with respect, stand up to injustice, and apply reason and wisdom, I know for a fact that a big heap of what’s strong and brave and true in their spirits came from their UU experience. And yes, I had to drag them, bribe them, the whole nine yards. It was not an option, and that was so even before I was “the minister.”

All kids, almost without exception, go through periods when they don’t want to go to church! It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure those kids keep coming to church. That’s what I believe. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, and you can try to convince me otherwise. If you don’t love, cherish, and feel strongly enough about this faith that you chose!!! to make sure it is the faith home for your children until they are adults, I wonder about that. This is where I think liberal parenting goes astray. Going to church on a regular basis, whether that is once a month or once a week, shouldn’t be optional. It’s not about whether your kid thinks Sunday is cool enough, entertaining enough, or stimulating enough to bother coming. Because the world needs you and your children, your gifted, courageous, phenomenal children, to be Unitarian Universalists. It’s not about what you and they can get; it’s about what they can give.

Everything I said above applies to adults as well. If you come to church with a consumer mentality, if you check the sermon blurbs like movie ads to see if you are “interested,” if you judge church by what you get, consider what I said. How about what you can give to a broken and hurting world? That Sunday you opt to blow off church might be the day that your smile, your handshake, your word of kindness could literally save a wounded soul. No, I am not exaggerating. You are that important!

And, shoot, I miss you when you aren’t here. I miss your kids. Think about it. Don’t wait until your spirit in danger to really join in this community. There is only now.

See you in church!

Below: A few of our beautiful, courageous youth bein' allies at the GLA Prom 2007...