We moved our little unstructured all-youth-bagel-time out of a room and onto a landing, and it seemed to make a significant difference. Previously, parents would accompany younger students to the room and then hover nervously by the door as they crossed the threshold and immersed themselves in an intimidating teens-only gaggle. Then they would slow walk away. They rarely came in; it was not a space for adults.
But I think there need to be some spaces in church life for youth and their parents. Turns out we had one staring us right in the face.
There is a nice, open, landing that leads to that room where we’ve been hiding the youth bagels. It’s technically a “library,” but nobody’s sitting in there reading Tillich. There are comfortable chairs and low tables. It’s an inviting gathering space into which we were not inviting people to gather.
We added a few hightop tables and set the bagels right in the middle of the landing. Bingo. Youth, parents, staff, and volunteers all mixed together. The door to that room was open, and some students took to it. Fine. On the whole, the experiment did what I hoped it would.
It’s just one week, I know, but it’s enough to do it again next week.