Eliminating the Kids Table is No Picnic

Kara Powell

If you've been following Sticky Faith, especially our intergenerational findings, perhaps you've heard us talk about how important it is to eliminate the age segregation that exists in most churches. We liken churches to family gatherings in which there are 2 tables:  the "adults table" and the "kids table".  Theoretically, everyone's at the same meal but these are very different experiences.  (To find out more, check out this recent article we wrote for the Salvation Army about our vision for a "Sticky Church" that brings the generations together.)

But I'm coming to realize that eliminating the kids table is no picnic.

It's like when Dave and I host our intergenerational small group at our own house about every three weeks or so.  It's way more work to get all 16 of us around the same table. It would be far easier to put the kids at the kitchen table and to have us adults eat at the dining room.  But instead, we set up extra card tables next to our dining table and cram around them together.

Plus it's more messy.  You should see the crumbs I sweep up after dinner!

And every once in a while, as much as I love kids (my own and others'), I'd prefer a quieter, more mellow meal with just "adult conversation".

We're not saying it's easy.  We're just saying it's better.  More powerful.  More Kingdom.

Because every time all 16 of us gather around the table, I learn.  I am blessed to see our 3 kids interact with other adults.  I am myself enriched as I hear about other kids' preschool plays, basketball tournaments, and karate classes.  I learn new things about my own kids as I see them build trust with our other group members and share more of who they really are.  None of that would happen if we were at separate tables.

So Dave and I set up the card tables, cart out extra chairs, and sweet up afterward.  It's worth it - both for us and for our kids.

Published Apr 17, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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