Maybe it is short-timer’s syndrome, but the last four months, and the last week specifically, have made leaving so much easier than I thought it would be. Maybe our eminent separation has given me clearer vision to see what was always there, maybe my eminent departure has created some fatalism about our church being able to effectively reach young families, but my vision for a welcoming, accommodating church reached an impasse. The hot button issue that made my last official board meeting depressing and bitter: changing tables in the main bathrooms. There were only two other people besides me who argued to keep them: the two women who, albeit 30-plus years ago, once had to change their babies’ diapers at church. Everyone else in the room was a baby boomer father (i.e. never changed a diaper except in an emergency) or never had kids. But we were out-voted and diaper changing has now been relegated to the back bathroom.
Will the loss of these changing tables directly affect the membership demographic of our church? Probably not. But it was, for me, a weathervane. There are dozens of similar decisions over which I’ve voiced a minority opinion throughout the years; this one was, to me, one of the most ridiculous. They are small plastic tables that fold up against a wall; a standard in any public restroom. What do they hurt? Someone had to wait an extra couple minutes to use the restroom, and someone else didn’t like how they distracted from the décor. So they took them down and now parents, especially guests, will have to hunt down facilities down the hall and around the corner.
Maybe the changing tables aren’t a big deal. Maybe none of my gripes or issues ever really mattered. Maybe I was wrong to think I was called to my church to be an ambassador for the lost, or to help break down the barriers that have led 2/3 of my generation to avoid church, if not actively despise it. Maybe my generation doesn’t belong in church after all. Maybe we need a new place to congregate on Sunday mornings.
I’m thinking Denny’s. They don’t quit seating at 10am; they serve breakfast all day. They have changing tables and high chairs visibly available to accommodate your family. You can come as you are; no one comments on your appearance. You know your 10% is going to help someone who really needs it. There’s no mention of “luck” when it comes to what is in the “pot.” And they won’t quit serving it, just because you spill a little coffee on the carpet.
I need to find a new way to meld my concern for my generation, and those coming after, with my belief in church as the Body of Christ. I probably need to take a break from church life and politics for the same reasons so many of my peers avoid it all together. But in the mean time – I’m counting down to my first Sunday morning Grand Slam.
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14