Do I have to go to the Basement?

20 07 2011

Csinos’ first chapter is called “Do I have to go to the basement?” and it refers to his time growing up as a child in a Catholic church where children’s liturgy took place in the basement and the “big church” took place upstairs.  He always wanted to stay with his family and was terrified to go to the basement.

Looking back, I now realize that there were two significant reasons that I wanted to stay upstairs with my family.  First, I appreciated experiencing the Mass with my parents and sister, my spiritual guides.  Since they were the primary influences on my spiritual life, I didn’t understand why I should leave them for the greater part of the Mass.  Second, I had come to value the richness and symbols that I encountered at Holy Redeemer.  Attending children’s liturgy would mean that I had to remove myself from the spiritually-saturated sanctuary, with its liturgical colors, symbols, and rites, and go to the drab, dull, and boring basement.  There may have been cookies and crafts down there, but these sweet treats and creative activities could not compete with the transcendental traditions of the Mass and the symbolic beauty of the church building. (2)

These words in the opening chapter guide where Csinos will go with the rest of the book.  He points out the contrast he felt as a child from Mass and Children’s Liturgy.  As a child he wanted to be a part of all that was happening in the faith community and he felt separated from the mystical that was happening and quarantined off to the children’s area.  Although they made a good effort at it being more kid friendly (cookies and crafts), it was boring and drab and did not engage young David as a child, Christ-follower.

I did not have the same experience in childhood, however, I do remember in the third grade not wanting to go to my Sunday School class because it was boring.  So I went to my parents’ Sunday School class.  Theirs was probably just as boring but for some reason I felt better there.  The sanctuary I grew up also was quite boring and lacking artistry to help us in worship of God.  So I missed out on what Csinos describes as a child.  However, even the language used then (and now) emphasizes the different types of worship that is occurring.  Adults have “big church” and kids have “children’s worship.”  They are not put on the same level and everyone knows that the real ministry takes place at “big church” (tongue firmly in cheek).

But just because I missed out, doesn’t mean I cannot relate now.  I now know the value of art in worship.  I now know the value of engaging all the senses during worship to help children and adults fully experience the presence of their Lord and King.  I think that many Protestant churches have swung so far away from the artistic and sensory side of worship that their worship services and experiences have become very dull and drab.  Csinos is pushing back on that (through the eyes of children) by allowing the conversation that all people engage God spiritually in different ways.  To remove children from the worship experience and replace their worship experience with a “drab, dull, and boring basement” is abusing children’s spiritual lives and growth.

I will continue to post responses that I have had to Csinos’ book and look forward to engaging in conversation around the posts I make and the responses that anyone has to what he has written.




2 responses

26 07 2011
Justin Spurlock

I do think Csinos brings up a very important point – not all children benefit from a separate experience and it is inappropriate to think of real worship and kids worship. However, Csinos seems to be creating a straw man that is fairly easy to tear down as well. Many children thoroughly enjoy the so called “church basement” and programming that is just for them. Also, as you bring up here, not all people have a liturgically and artistically rich worship space.

26 07 2011

He actually does say that. But you are right. There are children who want to be a part of a class and listen to and study the word.

This is more revealed through the posts I’ll continue to make about the different spiritual styles. Csinos is definitely a Symbol-Centered whereas the Word-Centered are better with the basement.

He is convinced that most children’s ministries are Word-Centered and most churches are Emotion-Centered.

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