As I was driving towards the local shopping city, I was thinking about this upcoming weekend. We're heading off to visit family in Michigan and to enjoy seeing 3 of my 4 siblings and their families. I also realized I had a church errand I needed to do before we left. And a couple of things occurred to me.
1. I am the only sibling of my family that is a member of the denomination that we were baptized in. My mother was raised and married in a New England Congregational Church, and the 4 oldest of us were baptized in that church. Our youngest sibling was baptized in a Congregational church in another state, but we all attended Congregational/UCC Sunday school. While I was in college, my family moved to a state where they found a new church home in the local Presbyterian church. My mom was a Presbyterian when she died. However, skipping a long story, my mom was buried by the associate pastor of her birth Congregational (now UCC) church! Throughout college I worked part-time as a secretary for one of the associate pastors at the UCC church I attended and I moved my church membership there. The pastor was one of the clergy who officiated at my wedding when I finished college. Meanwhile, my sibs went to school and found new homes in other churches. Nowadays they are Presbyterians, Methodists, and Lutherans, and 75% of them are active in their churches. There's probably nothing important about this train of thought, but it struck me. I think that even though I "knew" my sibs weren't UCC/Congregational, I've just always thought "we were a UCC family." I realized for the first time, that for my younger siblings, they've lived longer as members of some other denomination than they did in our "home" denomination.
2. I've been part of many discussions at church about how to bring young people into the church, how to attract families, how to grow the congregation. There's been a lot of "Why don't parents bring their kids to Sunday school?" Well, why aren't we questioning ourselves? My own children are not part of, and were never part of my church. My husband is Jewish, albeit a non-religious Jew, but he was not willing for me to raise our sons in my church. That has been my struggle, and my pain. They've certainly been exposed to my active church life and Christian faith, but they are not members of any faith at this point. I look at other active church members and wonder. What happened that their children are not here? At 56, I am one of the "younger" active church members. There is a whole generation of folks missing in our congregation for the most part - the 12-40's. Our children and grandchildren aren't here. They're not anywhere for the most part. We do have a small group of Sunday school children at present, for which we are thankful. Maybe the next time somebody says "Why don't parents bring their kids to church?" I'll be brave enough to say "Here's why my kids aren't part of this church, how come yours aren't?" A little like checking for the logs in our eyes???