I attended a required Child Evangelism Fellowship workshop today so that I could continue working with the Good News Club at a local elementary school. The workshop was held at the new campus of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, which recently moved from its historic location closer to the heart of the city. I looked forward to seeing their new site.
On the way there, I missed the turn into the church entrance. After I turned around, I turned into a mile long drive into a gorgeous acreage with the two new church buildings. A friend of mine commented, “That drive must have cost at least a million dollars.” I believe he was on target.
But as I pulled into a parking space, I was underwhelmed by two very understated buildings. I felt like I had pulled into an industrial park rather than a church complex. OK, take a breath. Just walk in and see what they have done here.
I walked into a space that was designed to be a coffee shop, restaurant and gathering area. It was very nice, and I quickly recognized others from my Good News Club. We sat together with coffee and bagels and caught up since our last time together.
The opening session was in the adjacent building, the main worship space. I tried to keep an open mind, but to tell you the truth, it felt like a warehouse rather than a church. The audio/visual technology was spectacular, but with a back wall of garage doors, exposed ventilation ducts and exposed walls, I did not feel like I had stepped into a church. I know that this design was intentional, but wow, what a difference from what this church used to be. Our breakout sessions were in very nicely appointed classrooms with very homey appointments.
So many thoughts went through my mind. Is this what a church looks like in the 21st century? Am I old enough to feel uncomfortable in a contemporary church? Is this what Jesus had in mind?
Jesus never went to church. What would he have to say about our churches? I am so glad he is merciful and abounding in love!
We are down to just a few more weeks of confirmation instruction. One more lesson to go on the third article or the creed (resurrection and everlasting life), and then a review week for three students to be confirmed in April.
This will be the thirty-first time I’ve taught the catechism to seventh- and eighth- graders (with a few high schoolers tossed in from time to time). In some ways it gets easier the more you do it. In other ways it gets harder. But after all those years, I am still learning myself, and I thought I’d share some of those lessons.
With ten students all together, all of whom are busy with lots of other activities, I broadcast my classes on Facebook live. I learned how to use this convenient platform that saves the feed to watch later. Plus, I usually had about 75 assorted people tune in to watch a few minutes of the class, from all around the world.
I learned a lot, again, about how much young people grow and develop from the beginning of seventh grade and the end of eighth grade. This is the time when they discover who they are. They learn new skills, work together with new teams, ride waves of failure and success, and make me laugh in endless ways.
I learned that there are some I just cannot teach. I had to cry, “Uncle” when confronted by some of the behavioral challenges dumped into my class. I felt completely helpless when teaching students who were completely uncooperative and disruptive yet were intriguing in their comments. There are no seminary classes in special ed.
Kids have an appetite that just does not end. I brought pizza, Girl Scout cookies, fried chicken, and chips and salsa. I never brought enough. They will consume everything in their path. Like locusts.
I am getting old. The gap is widening. These kids are programming robots, living in virtual reality worlds, and communicating in so many different ways. I’m not. I’m just barely treading water in their world. RPGs? I’m not there. I don’t follow any You-tubers. I’m a dinosaur.
Teaching young people keeps me young – as young as I can be for now. I’m thankful for that little bit of eternal life!