Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Churches These Days
A lot of churches are building these great beautiful sanctuaries, multi-purpose spaces, fellowship halls and youth centers. That is awesome! These buildings often have great things like railings, ramps, stairs, smooth pavement, and benches...perfect for skate boarding! However, these same churches that claim they are trying to reach these people prohibit them from skating there, they post threatening signs, or special "security" personnel. They claim it is because of liability/insurance issues, or they do not want to mess up their new facility.
Consider this story from Mark Yaconelli's, Contemplative Youth Ministry:First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Indiana was just such a church. They were getting tired of the kids being there, destroying their steps, and messing up their facility. So, the elders decided to rebuild the steps and install counter-measures to prevent the skater situation. However, the youth workers were able to persuade the elders (after much prayer) to reconsider. Instead, the elders left the steps, opened up the church facility, gave the kids a tour, allowed them to use the bathrooms, and fellowship areas, and the church staff could be seen fellowshiping with them."If you want to know what it means to share the presence of Jesus with young people, if you want to know more than I can tell you in this book, then drive an hour east of Chicago to Valparaiso, Indiana. Go spend an afternoon sittin on the curb across the street from the Methodist church. Then watch as kids come skating up to the steps, leaping and twirling, crashing their boards against the concrete in acrobatic feats of life and energy. Sit and watch as the church secretaries, the bookkeeper, the maintanance and pastoral staff walk up the crumbling steps. Watch as they stop to say hello. Watch as they converse with the scruffy street skaters. Watch as they take time from their work schedule to applaud as a boy shows off an especially difficult spin on his board. Sit and don't say a word. Just listen to the whir of the wheels on the pavement. Watch the young people running in and out of the church to get water and use the bathroom and then see. See if you don't find those crumbling steps beautiful."
(from the closing paragraph of, Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties) )