What is Shaky-Church Syndrome?
... And more importantly, is there a cure?
Brainstorming ChristianWeek’s Be the Church series after breakfast today, in my midst are not one, not two, but three children: sitting and standing, chitting and chatting, and occasionally (and when I least expect it), doing a bit of school work.
Gemma, who is supposed to be doing math, is sliding against a non-metallic wall, announcing to anyone who will listen that she is a “giant magnet”. I allow this, justifying the absence of math as a possible seedling for science. River, still wearing his Master Yoda bathrobe and who is supposed to be journaling, is insisting on improving his jedi-like colouring skills instead. “Write or write not,” I tell him, “there is no try.” Of course, he opts to write not…
Lastly, and (thank heaven) not leastly, Victory has already finished her Spanish, journaling, reading and, as outlined in her self-made school schedule, has gotten a forty-five minute head-start on art class. “This paper is Hawaiian,” she says. “That doesn’t seem right,” I say. “I mean—” she continues, “it’s paper we bought in Hawaii.”
The Seitz family, I’m privileged to say, is skipping Alberta’s anything-but-mild winter this year. After a year of hurdles and closed doors, we (with a lot of help from God) found our way to a window on the other side. (Hawaii being as good a place for a window as we could have hoped for.) Before our school year began, I tried convincing myself (as well as my wife and co-teacher, Michelle), that we could “go with the flow”… That life, on its own, would provide the field-trips and educational conversation our kids need.
The case never stood a chance.
Teaching, we were destined to discover, was as difficult as learning... Kidding, of course. It’s far more difficult… That doesn’t mean, mind you, opportunities for organic learning don’t exist. Michelle, for example, just entered the room to share with us a new word. Get this—a cheesemonger is someone who goes about their day selling cheese and other dairy products. I know… a truly, great word… And so true is the existence of many great (and colourful) words we could use to describe our homeschool experience thus far.
Our winter-skipping travels began on the remote isle of Molokai where we spent two months: bonding at the beach, playing at the pool, paying more than we ever have for groceries, and of course—implementing our fair share of homeschool (grades two, four and six). After completing our Hawaiian homeschool module, we returned to Alberta for Christmas (which isn’t really part of winter), and have since journeyed south once more, this time, opening a window to the Baja region of Los Cabos in the quiet town of San José del Cabo. Home for the next couple months.
Yesterday, our kids were working on their sixth YouTube video. Self-imposed dad-duty at first lead me to take on a large part of their show’s pre-and-post-production. I grew up watching shows like The Friendly Giant and knew all sorts of tricks to help them connect with their target audience... So, in a way that would have made the likes of Mr Dress Up proud, I gave (sensitive) advice, (kind) critique, and even gave a few or so hours (far too many) editing the first video. Taking out all the umms, okays and alrights is no small feat... Still, they weren’t impressed until they finally got to see their refined, talking selves up on our Airbnb’s forty-six inch mega-screen.
“We’re going to be famous,” River celebrated once the video was over, pumping his fist in the air.
“Not so fast,” I replied. “If you guys want to continue making these videos, we’re going to have to figure out how you can edit them on your own.”
“Huh? You don’t want to help?” Gemma said. “But we’re doing most of the work already…”
“It’s not that I don’t want to help you guys... Being in front of the camera is hard work, but I want the three of you to learn the whole process—so that Seitz Kids can be everything you and I know it can be.” I stood up (admittedly, for dramatic effect). “Have you guys heard the saying, ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime’?”
“I’ve heard it,” Victory said. “—And if you teach me—I’m pretty sure I can edit the next one.”
… And she has… Six videos in, she has learned everything I knew and more—even creating an upbeat claymation intro to help kick off the show. Of course, each video has had its challenges: the most recent, shaky-camera syndrome—less commonly known as wobbly-tableitus…
But, then again, nobody said new things would or should be easy… Okay, I admit, I have a few times—but that’s more so the encourager in me. Nevertheless, learning new things—learning to do things better—be it homeschooling, YouTubing or fishing—it’s all part of the journey set before us.
In their quest to be discovered, Victory, Gemma and River have been the ones to truly discover who they are—their giftings and interests. And, as one of their teachers, I must admit that through this process they have learned more about themselves than they have from any school assignment or time spent at the beach or pool.
As mentioned, before deciding to skip winter, my wife and I were coming out of a hard year. Without God, church, friends, family, faith, hope and encouragement for one another, I don’t think we could have made it through in one piece, let alone come out of it bigger and stronger, and walking closer with our Creator… When we strive to learn—to be better—we give ourselves an opportunity to grow. We stretch ourselves, mentally and physically, to be more than we were before. And if we’re hearing correctly and obeying what we hear—who He meant for us to be.
After graduating, I didn’t think school was something I would have to give more time and thought to. And, being a Christian my whole life, I didn’t think I would have to think about the pre-and-post productions of church. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? … Though working for most home repairs, this attitude leaves us unprepared for when things finally do break... Still, as last year showed Michelle and me: There can be many a reason for something to break—for us to revisit—reimagine—and (maybe after stepping through an open window or two) rebuild. Click To Tweet
Home, I fully agree, is where the heart is. Just as school is where the learning is… So, when it comes to the future of church—where and how it is and how it can be—are we overthinking it? ... Are we experiencing a case of shaky-church syndrome... a condition best treated by firm foundations and solid support systems?
Wherever you might be in your journey, it's important for you to know: your voice matters.
So, how do you see church—its whole process, reimagined, rebuilt and fully supported?
... So that one day, without a crack in its foundation, it can grow up—"way up"—let its big drawbridge down, open its doors and be the friendly giant you and we know it can be.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4
#BetheChurch #BetheChange #BetheGrowth
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