If you have no idea what this post is about, chances are…
- You don’t have a middle schooler
- You don’t serve in youth ministry
- You don’t spend much time on social media
Because let me tell you, flipping bottles are everywhere.
The newest craze to hit the middle school halls is the act of flipping a water bottle (or pretty much any kind of bottle) in the air in order to get it to land on its head…and stay. Hours, and by hours, I mean hours, of time have been spent throwing bottles and have them thunk, thump, thud to the ground before the jubilant cheers of a standing bottle erupt. Some kids are really good at it. Some never get the bottle to stand.
But flip those bottles they do..endlessly..in hopes of the flawless stand.
Now, here’s the thing, the whole reason I found out about this phenomenon was because an adult was posting about it on Facebook. It was not a happy post. It went on and on about how annoying this game was and how they wished kids would stop playing it and how ridiculous it was. Since then I’ve seen a number of similar posts, not quite as vehement, but still expressing frustration with kids for playing this game.
And frankly, I’m baffled.
I feel like we as adults are creating a no-win situation for kids today.
This game is absolutely harmless. It’s creative and fun. It is not a video game, which we constantly rail against and say kids shouldn’t waste hours playing. It’s not TV, where kids tune out and lay around. It fits well with the message of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” that we have been feeding them for years. It is generally played with a group and promotes friendship.
It’s free! It’s fun! It’s everything we want for kids…right?
But then, when they start exercising their imagination, talents and creativity, the message they get from from adults isn’t “Way to go guys! What a fun game! Way to use your imagination and find a creative use for that used water bottle!”
No, what they hear from us is, “Please stop. That’s really annoying to us. Just go do something quiet like..play video games or watch TV. Just stop bothering us.“
These kids can’t win for losing. They are stuck hearing two simultaneously different messages and they will never be able to measure up.
And sometimes we do that to them in church too.
We want them to grow up with an active and vibrant faith. We want them to want to go to church. We want them to know and love God and to know that they are known and loved by God.
But we shush them when they are too loud.
We hush them when they fidget too much.
We remove them from our midst when they are annoying.
We even build them whole wings or buildings so that they can be loud somewhere else.
Now, hear me – I am not against having kids in age-appropriate ministry settings like Sunday School or Kids Church. In fact, I think those are really important opportunities for us to share God’s love and Word with them.
But, I do worry about the message we are sending our children and youth if we never create a time where they get to be with the whole church and they can see, hear, and feel that they are a part of that faith community, that they are known and loved by the whole church, and they belong there – truly belong there.
Are we sending them mixed messages like “Be creative and use your imagination” and “Be quiet and stop doing that”? Or perhaps more like, “We want you here” but “Here’s a better place for you to be”? Are we in some way creating a “no-win” situation for our kids? Or are we looking for ways to be both/and instead of either/or. To come alongside of them and join them in the journey.
It’s at least some thing to consider.
And while considering that… try flipping a bottle.
It’s actually pretty fun. 😉
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About the author
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com