I live in the city with the longest lockdown in the world in this pandemic. Today we learnt that we will be leaving lockdown later this week. It seems to have bought joy to many struggling with the restrictions.
During this time we have learnt to have internet services, school at home (different to the more frequently used term “home schooled” which it hasn’t been), use face time to catch up with friends and family and even to celebrate special occasions with a Zoom party.
Families have learnt how to share faith at home, and congregations have found many ingenious ways of keeping children and families, connected informed and prepared during this pandemic.
In my part of the world, one of the things I have noticed is there has been an increased interest in what it means to be Intergenerational, and how to engage children in faith on line during this time of lockdown.
Now this may sound picky, but what do our internet generation see of themselves when they look at “their” church’s internet presence, be it the web page or other social media formats “their” congregation may use.
So, I am not talking about what they use to find faith on line, but rather about what they see on line regarding their congregation or more broadly their Denomination.
Most of these spaces are inherently adult only, if not in classification, in content.
Now I can understand those for whom safety on the net is an issue, it certainly should be, but these children have used the internet their whole life, they are taught about cyber safety from birth by almost native cyber parents. Often these safety messages are for the older cohorts, as the younger ones are very safety aware. So, let’s put that aside and ask what they would find if they were to make it, safely supervised onto the web or social network sites of the congregation that has nurtured them.
I am asking you to think of this space as being an extension of your Intergenerational expression.
When I started my studies in children’s spirituality and a little later when I was Godly Play trained, I spent time crawling, yes you read that correctly, on the floor of my church and other churches. Try it sometime if you are allowed in your church, and if not try it at home, it is interesting how things changed when viewed from that perspective. Today I am asking you to look at your congregations or denominations sites through those of a child. I am not asking you to see if it has bright colours or cute drawings or photos or page information for the adults to help understand faith formation.
I am asking you to look at the sites as your child might. What is familiar to them? Is it presented on your pages?
For example, children visiting our church are drawn to the fountain, a fountain designed and made by the children of the congregation. These children are now young adults but their handiwork has excited the generation following behind, but it is not on our website.
What might your children want to see?
Another thing almost every child and most children have found in our church is that the stained glass can look like a teddy bear staring at you. You cannot see this on our website.
Nor will our children find Quokka, a friendly toy marsupial, that appears around our church drawing children’s attention to different aspects of the church and what it is used for. In our family, friendly area at the front of the church there is a book we wrote that tells of his adventures in the church. This story is not on the website, for our children to find and read while we are closed.
If we are to be truly intergenerational then we need to consider our cyber space as also needing to be intergenerational too. Will our children feel that this space belongs to them or only to the adults? Is this the last unaddressed issue of Intergenerational change?
Let me know your thoughts?
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.
4 thoughts on “Sunday Reflection: Where do the kids see themselves?”
Wendy, I can’t remember seeing your blog before, this is really helpful, I look forward to reading more of your work.
Glad you found me Patty.
I hadn’t really thought about making our churches online presence kid friendly or intergenerational. Although we’ve considered ways to make our Zoom or hybrid (in-person & zoom) services welcoming for all, I haven’t really thought about our website or FB pages in this way. On our Pres website I regularly update the intergenerational & faith at home pages with relevant ideas for churches or households to use, they are not very child friendly. We did have some child-friendly pass-worded pages for our Day Camp, particularly when it was done at home last year. Thanks for making me think about this issue.
Jillian, so glad that it is helping people think deeper around this issue