A few years ago as I walked into a church (where I am not on staff) a grandma I know came up to me, in tears and started telling me about her grandson. She told me he used to come to church with her nearly every week, but he just decided he, “was not into that church thing anymore” and no longer wanted to go to church. She did not know what to do and felt pretty helpless to do anything to change how he felt.
We talked about some ideas, but I have to tell you, she is not alone. I know many other grandmas (and grandpas) who are in the same place as my friend. When their grandchildren are young, they go to church with them, but when they get to about fifth grade, they no longer want to go.
In most churches these grandparents are left to deal with this on their own. They are left to go through this pain on their own. They feel completely alone. Under what circumstances is this okay?
Yes, it is the job and responsibility of the church – Children’s Ministry in particular – to have a plan to keep this from happening in the first place, but if , and sadly when, it does happen, it is their job to be there to help. It is their responsibility. The church and the Children’s Ministry is not just “for” church kids – children who have parents who go to church, too. Church and the Children’s Ministry is not just “for” children whose parents are very possibly friends with leaders in the Children’s Ministry. The church and the Children’s Ministry MUST be there for children who come with their grandparents, too. The church and the Children’s Ministry MUST have a plan to help these children make friends and feel like they are a genuine part of what is happening at church. They MUST engage children and NOT bore them. They MUST because when they do not – and far, far too many churches/Children’s Ministries do not – these children are much more likely to leave. These children end up believing the church is boring and does not really care about them, which must mean God is boring and does not really care.
Is this the message you want to send? If not, then what are you doing to be CERTAIN you are not sending this message? And if, like most churches/Children’s Ministries you are doing nothing to keep this from happening, what are you going to do TODAY to change the way things are at your church?
And, what will you do to help the grandparents in pain in your church? Do you even know who they are? Are you doing any of the following . . .
I know this post may be considered a bit “harsh”, but it is time for eyes to be open and for church/Children’s Ministry leaders to get it right. Far too many children have been lost and continue to be lost. Far too many grandparents are in pain. If this is not okay, what will you do to make changes? How will you step up to be part of the answer?