Yesterday I went as a chaperone on my daughter’s second grade field trip to Dallas Heritage Village, an outdoor museum of historic buildings and furnishings from the 1800s. The kids had a great time. Their favorite building was the school house, where they took turns playing “teacher.”
Several of the girls headed up to the front immediately, opened up the teacher’s desk and pulled out dozens of real reading primers. Other kids sat down in the chairs and dutifully awaited instructions. Two of the kids went straight to the piano in the corner, serenading us with haphazard tunes.
It was very hands-on. Obviously where they wanted to be, the children felt immediately welcome and engaged in the schoolhouse, free to interact with history and each other.
Contrast that with the historic church building on the site. When we walked toward the church, I heard one boy say “Ewww, I hate church.” Cringing inside, I could imagine that boy sitting in a pew next to his parents, trying his best to be quiet but really wanting to go run and play. I can imagine this so well because I have seen it in my own son.
When we opened the door to the church, we had to go in a smaller group, because only the small front foyer was open for guests. The rest of it, the pews and aisles and such, were blocked off by a plastic see-through barricade. Just look, don’t touch.
We didn’t spend very much time in there, obviously. As we left, one of the girls said that the church smelled like dead people. Cringing again, I wanted to sit down with all of those second-graders in the field of wildflowers and explain that Satan has really done a number on the church. God meant for it to be hands-on, and interactive. But somewhere along the line we believed the lie that we should just look. Don’t touch. I wanted them to see the God that I see, the adventurous and fun One.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t think of any words. And to be honest, I agreed with them. The church did smell a bit like dead people.
Lord, help us be more like an interactive school house and less like that old historic church.