As I thought about the January and February Soul Matters themes of Integrity and Resilience and how these concepts relate to our Religious Education program, I began to think about the challenges and successes that our RE program has faced this year.
This fall, we combined our First-Eighth graders into a single class on Sunday mornings. There have been amazing moments of leadership from some of our older children along with some difficult situations that come from having such a broad age range of students working together. I have witnessed some beautiful relationships form between some of the older kids and some of the younger children, and I’ve seen how frustrated both the children and adults can feel when there are conflicts due to varied expectations and levels of understanding.
All of these types of experiences happen not just in RE class, but in many different places in our congregation. Beautiful relationships form that might never have happened without a shared church community. Frustrations occur when there are different levels of understanding on specific topics. Sometimes unexpected leaders emerge from within groups, which can be wonderful or it can cause friction.
How our children and youth learn to handle these difficult situations while they are young will teach them how to resolve conflict and how to live in right relationship with other people as they grow. They learn some of these skills at school and in Religious Education programs, but they learn most from watching the adults around them. Our children and youth are watching the adult members of the congregation to observe how conflict is handled. And from us they are learning how to live in right relationship within a beloved church community.
Are they witnessing the congregation handle their disputes in healthy ways, with integrity and resilience? Or are there other lessons they are learning?
This month, let us be mindful of what it means to be a people of resilience by working to resolve conflicts and mend relationships in healthy ways, not just for our own sakes, but also for the sake of the children and youth.