Saturday, August 15, 2009

"What's a PEW?"

That is what Tristen asked me tonight as I was reading aloud to the girls. "What's a pew?" We recently started a new book, Ginger Pye, and the second chapter was about the kids dusting pews in the church building. It never crossed my mind that in just a short generation churches have changed that much. I hadn't realized that my kids haven't really been part of a traditional looking or feeling church (or at least they can't remember one). But if you stop and think about it, church these days is not what it was just 10 years ago. Now this idea that my child doesn't know that a pew is actually a church bench that you sit on during a service doesn't mean that we aren't a church going family. It says nothing for the truth that she comes from a strong, conservative Christian family. Not to mention that her grandfather is a pastor and her parents are Bible college graduates. What is says is that most churches we have visited in the last few years have turned away from the traditional looking church. Pews, stained glass, choir loft, hymnal, little spot for the communion cup or a kneeling bench are gone. As I explained it and kept reading, I found it hard to fully accept this concept. My kids probably won't ever think of church in that traditional way and likely that image will fade quickly away in just a few years.


Now don't get me wrong, I fully understand that church is truly the body of Christ, not the building that holds the gathering. But part of me is a little sad to see the common reference point disappear. When I am reading about these kids cleaning the church pews I can picture it in my head, but I am not sure that in generations to come, that will be an familiar image for them. I wonder if they see video monitors and folding chairs and a drum set up on the stage instead of a pulpit. I am pretty sure my kids don't picture a pulpit when they picture a church in their minds, because Tristen also asked what that was.

12 comments:

Jennifer Y. said...

We attended a funeral today that was held in a traditional style church. It was strangely comforting to sit together on the "pew" and listen to the pastor preach from the "pulpit". As the girls sat on either side of me, leaning on my shoulder, it just felt like home. We even sang "Just As I Am" and it hit me that my girls know very few hymns. I decided then and there that we will be learning a handful of hymns this year. As you know, I don't like change. I miss the pews, the hymns, the the songbooks, etc. But praise God that He is everlasting, and will never change even as tradition and culture change.

Karen said...

Very interesting thoughts!! The memories our children will have is stacking chairs on Sunday night. We have a mulit-purpose building and is used during the week.

I have childhood memories of rolling under the pews from the back all the way to the front while my parents were in choir practice :)

Lee and Bev said...

Those were the days, huh? I'm saddened too at times, but am asking God to allow me to grow and remember too that it isn't the building - but the body that is important. Still like the pews though! Thanks, Jennifer Y, for desiring to teach your children some older hymns. There really is a lot of good truth and doctrine in some of those songs of which we need to remind ourselves

DebiH. said...

Our home church is a newer building but still very traditional (we do have pews and even a bit of stained glass) Our music is a nice mixture of old and new. I do find it to be familiar and comforting. But we are so often in other churches that our children have been in very "old fashioned" tiny churches and giant contemporary churches with theater style seating and movie projectors! Scott took them to a local church for a concert last week and there were automated machines for using your bank card to give an offering ! You're right,it's not about the building, but it is interesting to think about how it has changed!

Crystal said...

Wow, that is so interesting! My kids are asleep right now or I would be tempted to ask them if they know what a Pew is. I don't think they do for similar reasons!

Annie said...

This is SO funny to me! I can't even imagine what sort of church you go to! What can it possibly look like, without pews? I've not always been Catholic, either, and occasionally I pop into the Presbyterian church or the Lutheran Church - and I swear - they are filled with PEWS. So, you do have me a bit flummoxed.

And while my children don't dust the pews (I think people's rear ends do that!) they do "pick up hymnals" as a work of service whenever we attend the last Mass of the weekend. After we read Ginger Pye, as you can imagine there was a lot of sliding going on!

Tonya said...

Wow, I never thought of that, but it is true. Does kinda make one a bit sad.

Tim and Susan said...

Yea, things change, huh? Very well written post. Loved it. At least the seats at church here are close together so we can "cuddle", but not slide so easily.

Good reminder it isn't the building, but the people!

Sandee said...

I think that alot too, about hymns. I love the newer worship songs...but I know so often in my life, my heart will pull out a hymn. and I think, my kids will never know hymns!!!

I am so glad my children's school sings a hymn or two in their chapel services each week, and also their band plays hymns.

I picked up an old hymnal along the way and pull it out with the kids from time to time. ("Please mom, don't sing!") :) Wish I could carry a tune.

K-Sue said...

A friend who is a half-generation older than we are has said, "I just don't like that wall music." He sings anyway, and doesn't leave the church because of it, God bless him.

I like it all, hymns, choruses, Hymnals, "wall music," pews, chairs, bleachers - but I do miss Hymnals at church. I have several here at home, so my daughter is familiar with them, but I know for folks who don't have musical backgrounds, it's possible that their children never see a book of songs.

marilyn said...

The wedding you are coming to is at a very old church with real pews and beautiful stain glass windows. Can't wait for you to get here. I'm excited!

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Really interesting.... I bet my kids don't know what they are either.