On the previous Sunday, a children's service was experienced as a vibrant celebration of worship. Joined by their families, it was great to share with the different aspects of the children's ministries in the church: Brigades, School's Out, and Sunday School. Remarkably there were 20 different primary schools represented in the service!
The same morning, we had the police examining the overnight break-in at the office. As the detective was taking photos of prints obtained at the scene, I remarked on her use of a film camera to take the image, rather than a digital one. As it turns out, a digital image is not as easily accepted into evidence in a court: given that it can easily be altered.
When I was a child, a picture was taken as proof of a fact. If it was in print, no-one could question it. But today this is no longer true. The children who were part of our service last Sunday no longer accept with assurance the same things that we were able to accept. The growth of digital technology is just one aspect which demonstrates that much more is negotiable, and therefore needs to be more carefully examined.
The reason I put these two events together is because they underline some of the challenges involved in sharing faith and in being the church. Although there are things we share in common, the ways in which these matters may be communicated and - more importantly - received by today's children have changed. We can lament what has been lost, or see and grasp the opportunities which are unique to this generation.
Today's generation is also much more culturally aware than any previous generations. The ability to mix with children and families of different cultural backgrounds also gives cause to question the assumptions by which one is raised. Even celebrations which we grew up taking for granted - such as Christmas and Easter - are not universally understood. That which is held in common is much smaller than it ever was.
The fact that we had such a broad mix of children in our service last Sunday is evidence of the challenge and privilege which is ours. Can we present Jesus to these children in ways which inspire and invite them to follow Him also?
June 24, 2001