It’s almost as if Kat is psychic or something. Every time she has a “church” post at her place, it seems to dovetail with something going on at my church. For instance, this post is quite related to something that’s on my mind right now.
Now, before I proceed, I must tell you, my church has an awesome youth program. I don’t know what they are doing (I’m not a youth parent), but they seem to be doing something right. In fact, the kids are so engaged, and can be so insular within their group, Lintilla and I have jokingly in the past called it a “youth cult”. And considering what else our youth could be doing, we say that as a compliment.
But that’s not what concerns me right now. What is really worrying me, and apparently the entire children’s ministry at BMUMC, is “The 5th Grade Boys”. You have to say it just like that – and every time you say “The 5th Grade Boys”, it must be accompanied by scary music and lightning. I’m allowed to say this, because one of them is mine: Zaphod.
There are no 5th grade girls. There was a strange Y chromosone baby boom in 1996, I guess. OK, I exaggerate. But I can say with certainty that the few girls that age were driven off from Sunday school and Wednesday night programming by those boys.
We are changing our Wednesday night programming again, starting tonight, because The Boys have not responded well, just as they haven’t responded well to any program, since they were in the 3rd grade.
This last time, the Boys had a point, though.. We made a mistake in trying to have a “children’s music time” on Wednesday night, bringing together all kids from preschool to 5th grade. Needless to say, the older kids found the songs too “baby-ish”; no doubt if we had geared the music toward the older kids, we would have lost the younger kids.
But what I want to talk to you about is why they seem unteachable and unreachable. Which isn’t true, BTW, it’s just easy to get frustrated. This is a good, super-smart, very friendly goup of boys. Nashville, these are your future leaders, mark my words.
At the same time, they are cynical, and snarky, and sarcastic – AND – they see right through any attempt at manipulation or child psychology. I am convinced that they are not only smarter than my generation was at 11, they are far more blunt and smart-alecky. We have a generation of Oscar Wildes coming up out there.
The reactionary Republican parent in me wants to blame Nickelodeon. And, I have a little proof on my side: every time we’ve cut off Nick programs as a punishment for this or that bad behavior, Zaphod’s attitude changed for the better. He was less smart-alecky, less sarcastic.
But then again, perhaps the programming of Nick is the way it is because that’s already the personality of its target audience, and that explains its popularity amongst tween boys (Disney has the girls). I don’t know why it seems this upcoming generation is that way, but, at least at my church, they consider themselves too smart and too cool for any organised activity. And we’re Methodists, so it’s fruitless to suggest we allow their church time to be unstructured. 😉
Anyway, I know it seems like I’m being hard on these boys, and maybe I am. We only have to get through this year, then next year, The Boys will be in our church’s youth program, which seems to be cool enough, even for them.
We’re trying something with them tonight that I think would even meet with Koblian approval. Our pastor himself is going to take the boys under his wing, and I am going to help. We are, in effect, going to treat them like adults. We are going to talk about contemporary issues (as they pertain to 5th graders), and throw a little Bible study in as well.
I’ll let you know how it goes. I just wish we’d thought of this when they were in 3rd grade. 🙂