Your Experience of Church as a Child

I need your feedback!20130425-165731.jpg

I am asking readers to recall their experience of church and worship as a child. What did you connect with, what alienated you, what activities enabled you to enjoy the community of church – in all I want to hear about the good, bad and ugly. Your memories and experiences, anecdotes and stories is what I am after.

Currently I am researching material for a book I hope to write on “children and church” and your experiences will help fill out the picture

Please email me at pstok@iinet.net.au or add your comments below.

Fellow bloggers may I please encourage you to reblog this request so that your blog readers have an opportunity to respond as well. The greater the cultural variety the better the picture I can gather.

Thank you in anticipation.

Pieter

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Categories: Child Theology, Children, Church, community, Faith, Family | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “Your Experience of Church as a Child

  1. I tweeted your post and put it up on Facebook. Hope that the email I sent you with my experiences helps your book. I’m curious what you will find when others send you their responses.

  2. There, shared with my tribe. I’ll reblog this on Monday cause Saturdays generally don’t see many readers! Blessings

  3. Mike@UsneakydevilU

    The most memorable moment as a child in church for me was shocking, scary, eye-popping, but yet enlightening. I was 7 years old and it was Easter, me and my younger brother was in our polyester suits mom had bought us for the special day. Now our church was a Baptist, all Black congregation and church was always long but full of exciting sermons. But this day the preacher had a big surprise for us. As the preacher preached about The Resurrection, he suddenly disappeared from site, somewhere behind pulpit. While out of sight you could still hear the preacher preaching and suddenly with the help of three deacons, the pastor appeared, being raised up, attached to a wooden cross. He was now wrapped in a white garment and had fake blood on his palms and feet. As he was on that cross, he preached harder than ever before, almost like a lion roaring. I watched with big eyes, my little brother was visibly scared and we both sat there in awe, crying. My mom tried to calm us, but the roaring sermon continued, and me and my brothers crying continued. The sermon ended and after church the pastor explained why he went dramatic on the congregation, especially the kids.
    That Easter is chiseled into my brain, that preacher painted a vivid picture of Jesus suffering on that cross, that in a weird way made this 7 year old understand His sacrifice. Easter Sundays after that one, the pastor never went dramatic like that again, being a parent, I’m guessing the parents gave him lots of heat for his Easter theatrics.
    Hope this helps.

  4. Thanks for the help and the emails everyone.

  5. Sadly, if I had to choose one word to summarize my childhood church experience, it would be boredom. Our church didn’t children’s church; everyone went to the main sanctuary. I vividly remember pretending like I was paying attention as I daydreamed. When I entered adolescence my daydreaming turned into checking out girls My boredom with church is the reason I wanted nothing to do with it in my late teens and early twenties. When I finally read the Bible and committed to follow Christ and later got married and had kids etc, our first priority was to find a church with a good children’s church so our kids wouldn’t grow up think church was boring.
    I have so much respect for people in children’s ministry!

    • Thank you for your frank insight. Your story is all too common. One thing that I am looking for is a church that takes “family worship” seriously – that is, where all ages worship together – at least for some significant time – more than a condescending “children’s talk” and a song and then farewell the kids. And why is it that the kids leave and adults stay behind. Can’t it be the other way on occasions? 🙂

  6. Well, it’s not as though I was the usual child sitting in a pew at church. From an early age, beginning with a near-death experience around three or four years of age, I had regular (very regular) visions from God. They changed my perception of life and the world around me. Most especially, they affected my view of priests. Now, I was born in 1952, so the priests of my day were not the priests of today. Maybe. But the one thing I noticed was that, through my visions, my experience of God was one of light and love, of expansiveness and infinite grace, but when I was in church, listening to the priest, his experience was invariably one of doom and gloom. We were always being scolded about something or other. Which contrasted very starkly with my personal experience of God. In addition, whenever I opened my mouth as a child (even as an adult) to ask a question, or share a thought, or express my feelings, I was silenced so harshly and finally that I grew to view priests as those black presences in front of the church. I grew so disrespectful of them (to be honest) and so resentful of their “keeping” the church to themselves and leaving me out, that when I was a young adult I went to a canon at the National Cathedral and cried (and I never cry) and confessed my life-long anger toward priests. He, in turn, handed me a copy of the book Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill. And while that changed my life in terms of how I saw and understood myself, I can’t say that my experiences with priests have really changed all that much.

  7. Pingback: Children and Church – Thank You, but More Please! | Travels from Ur

  8. Reblogged this on butchering saint and commented:
    really like this guys posts and he is currently needing some stories that are remembered from childhood and church. Go, add your thoughts for a great book soon to be written

  9. Having grown up in the church, my memories are many, some positive and others negative. I would say that I was blessed to have some excellent leaders during my childhood, those who loved and gave themselves for the children they ministered to.

    One negative side of my childhood and even as a youth that I would encourage leaders of these departments today to shy from is the insistence of denominational rightness. The children and youth assigned to your departments will grow up and encounter other denominations and faiths…

    When they do, if what was taught is proven to be presupposition-based doctrine, then doubt is created about the entirety of their teaching.

    I remember being scared to death by some of the eschatological beliefs of that day, only to find later in life these teachings were speculative at best. Interesting effort you’ve come up with here, hope the interaction yields some good info. Blessings.

  10. Thank you for your feed back. Very helpful indeed. I love the line,”I was blessed to have some excellent leaders during my childhood, those who loved and gave themselves for the children they ministered to.” This I believe is the big lesson that church leaders need to learn. They are also the leaders of the children and that means more than condescending remarks. I also appreciated the cautions you have given.

  11. Pingback: The Dark Side of the Church | Travels from Ur

  12. I remember being wrapped up warm to go to church, Church of England , ancient church in rural Suffolk. I think my most vivid memories as a small child would be harvest festival and Chrismas.
    Harvest fesitval when I was about 4 or 5, the church filled with produce and flowers, good old pagan corn dollies,and the bounty was on every ledge. The sermon punctuated by loud crunching from some juicy carrots that I found and refused to give up without a struggle. Christmas one year we had a big tree with real candles on it and the tree caught fire ! Quckly extinguished by a ladys gloved hand. I remember going to Sunday school , but not enjoying it much. I always loved the singing.

  13. Also love Mikes story.. Imagine if you tried to do that today.. We took our children to an Easter service in Torquay, Victoria. Visiting minister, preaching to a largely visiting congregation. He was splendid.He picked people from the congregation to assist, and his sermon involved his running down the aisle flapping his arms ( being an Angel). He was aided in his endeavours by a splendid organist, also visiting. Best Easter service I ever went too.Memorable, and not too bloody.

  14. Felix

    My primary school and our local Church of England were central pillars of my world when I was a little boy in Sydney. I went to Sunday School, enjoyed being in the boys club (the CEBS), and learnt the great, traditional hymns.

    Some specifics. I remember being moved to tears once or twice by the music and being one of the three kings in a Christmas pageant when I was about 6 or 7, I respect a trainee minister who had the grace to acknowlege when I (about 13) was incorrect on some point and he wasn’t. .

    Yes, I’m grateful to my parents for taking me every Sunday. Now I think it’s amiss if I’m not worshipping the Lord on Sunday morning.

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