A few months ago, we were sitting in church when one of our babies became upset. Like any parents, we quickly grew uncomfortable and tried to quiet our son down. Not long after the crying started, someone a few rows back loudly declared, “Can’t you shut that baby up?” Immediately, the entire church glared at us. We left in the middle of the sermon.
In the midst of widespread decline, I constantly hear people talking about how rapidly young adults are leaving the church. What do we expect? From the earliest of ages, we silence them. Surely, we don’t think any young adult who has been silenced for decades is going to want to stay in such oppression. How we treat babies directly correlates to how we have treated young adults. If the church can’t give voice to the youngest of its members, it deserves to die.
When I consider our children, I think about the early church. Based in community, children were seen as a valuable resource capable of spreading the message of Jesus and transforming the world. There was much room for all generations of the community to experience life together. Now, we prioritize those who can sit still and be quiet. Such thinking is a lethal mistake. We will either change or this generation will be our last.