Posts filed under ‘Chuck McCammon’

Intended Consequences

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense.Robert Frost

Now, I’m not a poet, in case you didn’t know it. And poems that don’t rhyme feel like a waste of time.  (Did you catch that rhyme scheme — yeah). Nonetheless, I find this quote by Robert Frost to offer helpful insight.

The line above speaks directly about walls and the divisions walls create. But it also speaks indirectly about what I would call the Law of Unintended Consequences. (Quick, someone check to make sure that John Maxwell hasn’t already enacted that into law.)

Whenever we build a wall, our intent is to keep something in, keep something out or both. That would be an INTENDED consequence. But what happens when something is kept out — or trapped inside — that wasn’t part of our original plan? That’s an UNINTENDED consequence, and unintended consequences happen all the time. In fact, they’re present in almost every decision we make.

One example of this is the church’s effort in the last 2-3 generations to provide “spiritual education” to kids of all ages (from birth to college). The church’s solution was to build some walls! Over the last 30-40 years, the church began to segregate the family based on age groupings — preschoolers here, elementary kids over there, and teenagers just go over there where we can’t hear you. The intended consequence was to provide more focused teaching at appropriate age levels. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is a noble intention. In the spirit of Proverbs 3:1, (“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”) I would submit that this has a valid place in the life of the church.

But if Robert Frost were still alive, what would he say to us?  He’d say, “Hey, get me out of this box! It’s stuffy in here!” Maybe after that, he might encourage us to look at the unintended consequences of the walls we’ve created. Some of those consequences he might list include …

1. Since the family is segregated into different learning/worship environments, they are not experiencing the same lessons/teaching. How do you take what the individual family members experienced separately and build on that at home? If you’re not sure why you would need to do that, see Deuteronomy 6.

2. In some churches, kids never enter an environment where their parents are present until Middle School or later. If I’m a child or student, and I am used to a “younger” presentation, how do I feel about entering into the “adult” world if that hasn’t been at least part of my experience all along?

3. In places where the church has said, “Little people, you don’t really belong in here; this isn’t for you,” how do those “little people” gain a sense of belonging to the whole? If they cannot gain a sense of belonging, how can they learn to love that from which they’ve been removed?

4. Not all unintended consequences are negative. Adults, free from their distrac… uh, children … can learn/worship in peace. Again, if you’re not sure why that’s less than ideal, see Deuteronomy 6.

5. There are other unintended consequences with this approach; more than will be mentioned here.

Our KidStuf ministry exists to put parents and kids in the same environment so that when they go home they are on the same page. They have a common experience from which to draw that gives them a starting point for the conversations that should be taking place “when you sit at home, when you’re on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7)

KidStuf is an opportunity for you and your family to prevent or undo some of the unintended consequences previously mentioned. Why don’t you make bringing your family to KidStuf a priority … and enjoy some INTENDED consequences?

Chuck

October 15, 2009 at 9:19 am Leave a comment


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