At a recent training event, I was struck by this strange message: "Aim Lower. Think Smaller. Give up. Go have a cup of coffee." It is supposed to be a strategy for churches' work with children: but it's also cleverly having a bit of a go at how some churches behave! After all, some do aim low, think small and give up - but the idea is to turn these things into positives!
- Aim lower: In other words, the Church should target more of its work at children, not only because they are often receptive to Good News, but because it is impossible to put a price on the value of children's presence, liveliness, disruptiveness, and inquisitiveness - they prompt adults to practise our faith more hospitably, more generously and more energetically.
- Think smaller: We should recognise that it is not only 'grown-ups' who have gifts, but children too, with so much to offer - and they draw our attention to different ways of seeing the world, to notice smaller details, to care for the voiceless, the un-noticed, the vulnerable.
- Give up: Remember that each local church is not the full extent of the Church, and that there may be things we can and should give up for the sake of the church in another place, just as we can also receive from others - and children help us to make these connections.
- Go have a cup of coffee (or squash!): It's not about resigning ourselves to the default position of 'a time of fellowship', but affirming that we are, first and foremost, a living community of people gathering to support one another - people of all ages, together.
So, let's aim lower, think smaller, give up, and go have a cup of coffee. A good vision for us all!