I've often thought about making a list of pet peeves I have about working in a church. Shortly thereafter, I realize that the publication of such a list will (likely) result in unemployment. So instead of unleashing a 700-page "church gripes manifesto" I'll share one of my biggest complaints:
Age-specific or Gender-specific Worship.
When did the act of Christian worship become a "program" that needs to be compartmentalized? What components of a youth worship service are only germane to young people? Which aspects of a women's worship service are considered unfit for men?
My armchair sociological analysis is that these kinds of worship gatherings were helpful in a time when certain groups of people (women, youth, etc.) were unable to fully participate in worship. The only way these folks could elbow their way onto the worship scene was to have a service for "their people"...and to do it really well.
By and large, those days are behind us. The ELCA has been ordaining women for 40+ years. Young people serve as liturgists, preachers, musicians, lectors, communion assistants, ushers -- everything their adult lay counterparts can do. Why do we continue to hang onto these antiquated practices?
From my perspective, every time we place parameters on church events (age, gender, race, etc.) we remind everyone around us of our differences. If we are truly one in the Body of Christ, why do we spend our time and effort declaring the ways in which we are separated?
With all rants, it's highly possible that the ranter is missing the point...a possibility I fully concede. What do you think? Are age/gender specific worship services helpful...important...necessary? I'd love a little dialogue on this topic, because I think it points to something embedded much deeper in church culture.