Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gaming The System

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The summer is upon us. Last Sunday began the summer program for Children's Church at our church. Before last summer, there was the addition of a new Children's Church Head Honcho. Let's refer to her as CCHH.

Now this CCHH is coming from a different perspective than previous CC Leaders.. It is my perception that CCHH wants to do whatever is the easiest for the staff. And I get that. Understandably, the easier it is on the staff, the lower the turnover rate will be. But CCHH has turned to the parents to fill in the gaps, and the Children's Church has become more and more rigid. Seems like new rules keep appearing each week that make more work for the parents and less work for the staff. If we didn't love the church so much, we'd be tempted to leave.

The Sunday School teachers get the summer off, as usual. But instead of finding a summer teacher crew like they USED TO before CCHH took over, they now harass the parents into volunteering for the entire summer. Oh, did I say volunteering? What I meant was forced labor. Oh yes, because right before last summer began, we parents all got a lovely email from CCHH informing us that the volunteering was mandatory. And parents were obligated to volunteer at least one time for each child they had in Children's Church. That lovely email also informed us that if we did not sign up for a particular date, a date would be assigned to us and that date for volunteering would be mandatory. Have I used the word mandatory enough?

Well we paid our dues last summer. Marshall and I volunteered for three Sundays in our kids classes. But apparently that wasn't enough to keep from being harassed each and every week (in person, through email and through phone calls) to volunteer for more Sundays. By some strange coincidence I wasn't available to answer the phone every time they called. *thank you caller ID*

And I'm not exactly sure why, but we continued to be harrassed every Sunday to volunteer to help the regular teachers during the school year every time we picked up our kids. We're talking, the kind of pressure that puts Used Car Salesmen to shame.

Sidenote: Ok, just because I have three kids and adopted two of them, does NOT mean I like other people's kids. (unless you're someone I know in real life and in that case I adore your kids. Cough, cough) Having to volunteer in Children's Church is like the 9th level of Hell to me. Is there even a 9th level? Anywho... I justify it in one sentence. "Dude... it's just not my gift."

So, with Summer looming & the mandatory volunteering coming around again, I knew I had to do something. Because if CCHH came up to me in person to pressure me to volunteer, I'm pretty sure there would be a slight possibility I would go postal on her. And going postal on someone in church is highly inappropriate.

I found a way to game the system. We decided to take our kids out of Children's Church for the summer. The summer curriculum is mostly video-watching anyway. And our church just started a brand new service called the 9:01am service. (not to be confused with the 9:00am service) The 9:01am service is held in the Discipleship center. They're calling it a casual and interactive worship service. Casual because the room is filled with round tables and is family friendly. Interactive because a topic, relevant to the sermon, is introduced before the sermon starts and you're encouraged to discuss it with the people at your table. Also interactive because you are encouraged to tweet (use Twitter) during the service. They even have their own hashtag, so when you tweet, it shows up on the big screen for everyone to read. Just make sure you don't accidentally tweet something embarrassing, because that might be AWKWARD.

So this past Sunday we sat as a family in the 9:01am service. We even get our own band & live music for the worship part. Once the sermon in the regular sanctuary starts, it shows up live on the big screens around the room.

(here's a front view during the worship part)

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(side view)

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We were sitting toward the front of the room, so there were a couple more screens and lots of tables and people sitting behind us. I would've taken a picture of that as well, but it would've been difficult to take stealthy ninja cellphone shot of them, seeing as though they were all facing my direction. Holding up the purple iPhone in their general direction might have given me away.

The kids did a great job and enjoyed sitting through the service with us. And we enjoyed the cuddle time with them.

I snapped a blurry pic of Haven and Marlie during the last song. They were swaying back and forth to the music while hugging (hence the blur).

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And Marshall and Seamus were dancing together, having a great time. (also blurred as a result)

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Do me a favor, and don't tell anyone we were dancing. Because we're the frozen chosen Presbyterian.

Oh, and CCHH, just a little heads up: I will not be participating in the mandatory volunteer program this summer. Kthxbai.

13 comments:

  1. Ha ha ha, you crack me up! YES! I so understand the madatory volunteering. My problemo is that I like kids, so I can DO it for a service. But when you do it and smile and t he kids like you, they say, OOOOH you have a gift!! Then I say,"we'll talk" and evade. They don't realize I need an extra anti-anxiety pill after!!! I say, um, you know I think that is JUST NOT my calling.
    Sheesh I do it 24 hrs aday 7 days a week already with MY 5! CAN I Please HAVEA FREAKIN BREAK!?? but that might be inappropriate to say. lol Good job evading my fellow gamer. . .

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  2. Good for you! I hate when church things feel like an OBLIGATION. And your 9:01 service sounds SUPER COOL. Unfortunately I'd never be able to get Modern Daddy to go to one of those. He thinks Twitter is the devil. (It was probably created in the 8th circle of Hell to trick us into depending on technology.) ;)

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  3. I don't have children, and my church would send me these e-mails because I was a girl in the youth group. And all girls LOVE babies, right? I do like babies, but not every sunday.

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  4. hehehe. I snickered my way thru this post. Were we sisters separated at birth? ;-)

    And ... I dunno, I might be wrong (God knows it wouldn't be the first time) ... but methinks it's possible that that twitter encouragement/idea/practice *at church* would have made Jesus roll over in his 3 day cave/grave.

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  5. Church service has become more casual and family oriented. I'll be willing to bet you aren't the only young family sick of the harrassment and strictness required with traditional worship in your church, hence this new form of worshiop was started. I like it. Smart leader...

    The CCHH needs to take note. I don't understand why Sunday School teachers need the whole summer off? Are they on religous sabatical or something? It sounds pretty chaotic.

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  6. OME!!! Your church is worse than mine!!

    Just because I am a mommy of 6 kids that I homeschool, doesn't mean that I want to go and teach Sunday School each week. Or change other people's kids poopy diapers. My 10th level of hell is changing other people's kids poopy diapers. It makes me want to barf!! I don't like changing my kids diapers, why would I want to voluntarily change strange kids diapers!!

    Our Children's Music Director also loves the word mandatory. I would love to teach her some new words like love and charity.

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  7. oh dont you just love it when it is mandatory to volunteer...way to turn it into a positive thing Julie...and have a great summer..

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  8. heehee-- can't tell you how much I enjoyed this (I love everyone's kids cough cough).
    We just started this "lovely" program at our church with a rota for the parents to take their turns helping in the nursery. You know, the one with four million children and only one is mine? You know, in the nursery where kids cough, cry, snot and wail on me on the ONLY day I have an hour away from my own wailing, snotting children...
    yea, it's enough to make me go interactive too.

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  9. You are completely hysterical! I just want to jump in a car and drive from PA to CA to meet you in person! I always say I don't care for OPK (other people's kids)!!!!!!! Glad you liked the new service by the way!

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  10. Wow... what an interesting experience. Has anyone talked to anyone higher up at the church to discuss the ummm unhappiness that people have with this system? But hey -- way to game it. I'm with you in it not being my gift, which is why I can't do it... singing in the choir and all ;)

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  11. I LOVE my kids, I just want to sit in church without them! I was the sunday school program all through high school. Never got to sit in on a sermon until I was older. Now, I want to learn not teach! Oh, I tell other people that it is not my gift, and that I have OPK syndrome. "what is OPK syndrome?" I don't like other peoples kids!

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  12. First, I have to say that IS IT really volunteering when it's mandatory? Do you watch Sunny with A Chance on Disney? It's a cute show and the one character always does this thing were he answers in questions to annoy people. You could say things like "Is it really mandatory and yet volunteering? Is it really?" and just keep repeating that over and over and over.

    I'm sure there are as many levels of hell as needed to supply each of us-- for me it would be the level where I'm forced to debate politics. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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  13. Obviously, I'm on the other end of this, being the SS teacher and not a parent, but it's like pulling teeth to get parents to volunteer even a little time in the classroom. I'm with kids at least once a Sunday 48 weeks of the year (we get 4 off in the summer), and if I get asked to help out more, I do. Nothing against you, I just understand more where CCHH is coming from. If she has any torture techniques that work, can you pass them along?

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