"Training" - a dated buzz word?

For me and those older than me, those strongly influenced by the MTS vision, 'training' has strong and very positive connotations. It's a shibboleth - "Oh him, he's ok... but his ministry is not training-centred"; and it's a panacaea - "I've noticed a problem in our church.. I'm gonna write a training course on it!"

But I've noticed that it's a little less attractive to the "next generation". Perhaps the word has just grown tired. Perhaps a lot of the training we have actually delivered has been dull, or sub-standard, so the word has been drained of value.

But could it possibly be that there has also been a subtle cultural shift that removes interest in the training product? I can think of two reasons:

  1. With wiki this and google that, we don't see the need for an expert training us. If we need to find out how to lead Bible Studies, we'll just download something from DesiringMarsHill.org.
  2. With the often noticed reluctance to commit, why would I want to be trained in preparation for some future task that I am reluctant to commit to?

Children's ministry

Sunday School:

  1. Sunday School, Sunday School, Sunday School. Like Growth Groups, it's not explicitly taught in Scripture and yet is assumed to be necessary. But there are problems: it's another program, if you only have one public meeting then it removes members from the public meeting, it removes the church responsibility of ministry to kids from parents, it takes kids out of the wider church community.
  2. Sunday School as a way of contacting parents from the community. Are we dishonest? Do we tell them up-front that we will be indoctrinating their children about the Christian faith. They may not seem to care. But that's because they may assume we're just teaching morals. We should tell them that they should care, rather than playing on their ignorance.
  3. Do we have an option for parents who want to come to church, want their five year old to be looked after, but don't want them indoctrinated?
  4. I think we should have a pretty low cut-off age for Sunday School. Perhaps 9 years old?

Children's talks:
  1. "Adults get more out of the children's talk than the sermon." That's a reason for improving sermons rather than adding children's talks.
  2. "Adults get more out of the children's talk than the sermon." That's not the primary purpose of children's talks, and yet it is often the primary reason given.
  3. Are the children's talks actually good for the children? Or is it really something cute for the parents and something that communicated family-friendliness?
  4. I have never seen children's talks that don't make the church meeting over-casual and overly-"folksy". It may be cute and educational and family-nice... but does it contribute to the seriousness and profundity of preaching and prayer?
Other options:
  1. Perhaps a more important thing than a Sunday School program is having other adults in the church who relate to the congregation's kids as individuals. A mentoring program for children will communicate to them that they matter to the church, apart from their parents.
  2. You could just run a beefed-creche every week, rather than a resource heavy Sunday School. Then put energy into other options.
  3. You could run a good children's program on another night of the week.
  4. You could just run really good quarterly holiday programs.
  5. You could set up a couple of the Growth Groups to include a children's talk-type element, rather than junking up the public meeting with that.