I've written before about what I've learned from my kids' swim school. This past Sunday's lessons -- "I set before you life and death" -- were an opportunity to think again about what it is we're up to as we go about setting up church programming for the year.
As a pastor, I get irritated when I sense that families are just "squeezing in" church between multiple other enrichment activities for their kids. It's easy to be resentful when you knock yourself out creating a good Sunday School or confirmation program, only to have folks show up haphazardly, "consuming" church the same way they do everything else. Do we need to charge tuition to get people to value what we do?
But maybe it's as much our fault as anyone else's. Even my kids' swim school has to remind parents occasionally that swimming is a skill that could save a life. How much time and attention do we -- especially we on the more liberal end of the spectrum -- give to the WHY of matters like faith formation? If X and Y activities for a 5 year old are equally fun, how is church qualitatively different? If X and Y high school programs are equally good boosters for a college application, why push the church youth group?
You don't have to be threatening the fires of hell to communicate that faith is a matter of life and death -- that a conviction in things unseen might finally be a more life-giving foundation than all the other things we could do to fill our days. Maybe the church needs to get better at telling people why this is important.