This week in PCUSA Mission:
All Can Benefit from One-Room Worship
Pastor, Reunion Presbyterian Church
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was
Little House on the Prairie
. The characters were old and young, likable and unlikable. Even though some (like the Olesons!) were petty and others made mistakes, they were always there for each other when it counted.
had story lines for both kids and adults on the show.
By contrast, today’s media programming is narrowly targeted. There are shows for preschoolers with fish and animals as characters. There are shows for elementary-age kids with teenagers as the heroes and adults as the fools. There’s Netflix and Hulu and iTunes for young adults to stream. And, of course, there are cable and network stations for generations of people who still use a TV set.
Gone are the days of a family gathering to watch the same screen and, with some exceptions, to watch shows that are intended for multiple generations. Today, dad and daughter can sit side by side while he watches a cooking show and she streams an animated movie — both wearing headphones.
Many churches have followed suit in their approach to worship. There’s children’s church with separate activities so the adults can actually listen to the sermon while their kids are off crafting and gaming in Jesus’ name. There are edgy services with “talks” instead of sermons, as well as traditional Sunday morning gatherings with robes and organs. Differentiation can be a good thing as we seek to reach new generations. But such targeting is beyond the reach of many small churches.
As I begin to plan for the “back-to-church” season, I’m remembering
Little House on the Prairie’s
one-room schoolhouse. Small churches are like that schoolhouse, bringing together people from all ages and backgrounds for one hour per week — farmhands, babies, grocery store owners, teenagers, retired professors, toddlers and the mayor can all show up.