Even Harvard Business Review Doesn't Like "The Kids' Table"

Kara Powell | Nov 29, 2011

If you’ve heard or read much about Sticky Faith, you know that we’re not big fans of the way churches have set up two tables in their ministry philosophy and programs: the adults’ table, and the kids’ table. In churches today, teenagers and adults have separate worship experiences, short-term mission trips, and spiritual lives. In our Sticky Faith research, we’ve seen how important it is to turn the tables and at least have periodic gatherings for folks of all ages. It’s good for teenagers’ faith development, and as a bonus, it’s good for the life of the overall church.

I was tickled last week to see this Harvard Business Review blog post also bemoaning the “Kids’ Table” separation. Not from the perspective of church ministry, but from the perspective of education reform. As the blogger wrote:

What if we put students at the center of the education innovation conversation? Could we get past our suspicion that they would make ignorant or irresponsible suggestions, and tap into what they know better than any of us: what works for them as learners? If we engaged kids in the problems facing schools, and gave them access to design tools, they might imagine a learning experience they would be more likely to engage in and commit to. What if we didn’t stick our youth at the kid’s table?

Maybe, just maybe, the need to integrate teenagers more fully is not just a church issue - it’s a culture issue. What if we kept our eyes open and were catalysts for involving teenagers in developmentally appropriate ways in more facets of our culture? I don’t want to add more pressure to students, but I do want to have their voices developed and heard. I need to hear from them. And I think you do too.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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