Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Children and Church

I saw a sign yesterday at a local megachurch that happens to run a daycare. The sign was advertising a reduced rate at the daycare for employees of the hospital directly across the street. I disliked it. Let me tell you first a bit about my feelings about churches and daycare. It is true that the Christian church has a long record of providing all sorts of aid. I'm not an expert on medieval history, but a lot of this help seemed to come from monasteries, from priests and nuns who made it their vocation to live to serve others for the glory of God. Nowadays, everything seems to be a "ministry." In my view, doing things for people in the hope that some of God will rub off on them in some way. This includes daycare at some churches.

If a church-going person feels called to help out a fellow church member, neighbor or family member with childcare, that's one thing. However, I'm not sure a church should be directly running a daycare, anymore than they should be directly running a soup kitchen, a hospital or a homeless shelter. The church is the Church. It is there to give Word and Sacrament. Individual Christians are supposed to help others in need. I also dislike seeing a church daycare being run as a straight-up business, instead of just helping those who need help. This includes running a discount program as an incentive to sign your kid up there. I'm sure some of the people who work at the hospital do so because they can't afford not to work. As always, there are of course other people who work for the extra clothes, fancy house, vacations, etc. The Church should support the family, and that means encouraging a parent be at home when possible.

I'm not sure how I feel about church schools. It is my understanding that church schools started in the Catholic church because of anti-Catholicism. Lutheran schools were started in the age before homeschooling vs. public school, and I believe were started to give Lutheran students some catechesis as well as the education they would have received at a public school. I don't see anything wrong with that, since the children are presumably mostly children of church members and the church is proclaiming God's Word to them. Obviously however, a school is not a requirement, nor something that should take resources from the church that are needed elsewhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI... Lutheran schools hark back to when Martin Luther translated the Bible into the 'vernacular' (in his case, German); so that the people could access the Biblical truth directly. However, as literacy was not very high, education became necessary so that the 'common people' could read the Bible for themselves. Hence, the long tradition Lutheran day schools. We are very blessed in our small town Lutheran congregation to still have a pre-K through 8th grade school. I am a transplant to Texas, but my wife is an alumnus as were her parents and grandparents, now we have grandchildren there, as well.