Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
Blog Number 31
September 30, 2019
Church, Children and Applebee’s
I experienced my first trip to Applebee’s this past Friday. I have heard many wonderful things about this place, mostly from young people, but had never gone before. I try to stay away from National franchises for the sake of locally owned businesses. Nevertheless, Friday our family went to Applebee’s. I was shocked by the amount of high school students there when we arrived and the amount of college aged people when we left. I must say that I was jealous that the church cannot attract so many young people to our worship. I wonder why.
We were greeted warmly. Even my young grandson got a warm greeting. Two of the waitstaff asked to hold him! In church we certainly greet families with infants, yet we expect the infants to be quiet. Here no one was concerned when he got fussy and made noise.
Often at church we have separate rooms for little ones so that they “don’t disturb us.” At Applebee’s children’s noise and that of the high school people, was not seen as a problem. Noise was something that was good, even celebrated.
Applebee’s is open rather late. I wonder if the business hours are meant to coincide more closely with the schedule of people of this age range. Perhaps in the church our morning weekend hour might not be the best way to attract this age cohort.
I realize that comparing a church to a bar/restaurant isn’t the best of comparisons but I wonder if there is not some things that we can learn from this successful franchise.
Are we willing to alter our “sacred worship times” to accommodate the hours of younger people. In most cases our worship times were set to accommodate the schedules of rural America.
Are we willing to keep children in church and accept that they will be noisy? Is there really that much of a problem with noisy children. Maybe we adults need to make more noise so that their noise will not be heard.
Perhaps we need to be less passive and more active. No one sat mute at Applebee’s but we (mostly) expect churchgoers to sit quietly while worshipping. Perhaps we need to consider this.
Applebee’s gives decent food at reasonable prices. Maybe it is time for us in the white mainline to join our ethnic brothers and sisters in having a meal after every worship. People do like to eat!
I hope that we in the subdued mainline will consider what it is that Applebee’s has that we don’t have.
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