Q. It seems that various sports and sport practices are taking over family schedules on Sundays. How do churches help families and youth stay connected and set priorities?
This is a genuine dilemma. Playing sports offers a valuable contribution to children's development in physical, social, and character-building ways.
It would be easy to judge the choices made by those families who encourage their children to play sports and who go with them to support them, even on Sundays. This probably stems from our implicit point of view that attending the church service is essential, almost sacred, to the life of a Christian.What is it about the church service that makes it essential to a Christian's life?
I hope we agree that it is not the building, nor the time of the week. The essentials are having fellowship with other believers, learning about God's Word, and worshiping the Lord.A Christian lacking these things is in serious danger.
For those missing church services during game season it might mean their faith is not nurtured, their kids are not spiritually educated, and they risk not returning to the church fellowship after the season is over.
Considering the essentials of the church service gives us a key to a possible solution. I believe it lies in finding an alternative way to provide those essentials.
1.Organize a meeting for all the families who miss church services during the game season. During this meeting show understanding for their dilemma, communicate that you want to stay connected with them, and work with them to find a solution. You will probably find that they experience missing the church service as much a problem as you do and they might even feel guilty about it. Together you can then work out a solution.
2. Another option might be organizing a different service for this particular group or dividing them into family groups that meet on a weeknight or Saturdays during the season. They could sing together, watch a recording of the Sunday morning sermon, and share and discuss the message.
3. Look at joining with other churches experiencing the same situation.If you find a way to provide the essentials of a church service, missing Sunday worship shouldn't be a total disruption to the spiritual formation and growth of the involved families.
Dennis Mohn is district youth pastor in The Netherlands.