It’s easy to overlook the blessings we have. When I moved to the Gorge 37 months ago (already!), the whole place was strange and new. For months, I heard it repeated, “This much rainy weather is really not normal for us this time of year.” But I didn’t know any better. My first impression was that the Gorge is a beautiful place to be, especially when cloudy. But now when I travel through the Gorge, I give the traffic and roads more attention. The scenery is still beautiful, but sadly, it doesn’t make the same strong impression as at first.

Wouldn’t it be great if our church offered some activity for high school youth, or for grade-school age kids? Wouldn’t it be great of we could support a high-quality Christian education program? Wouldn’t it be great if we had something to which we could invite our friends and the people in our community? Sure it would.

Actually, we do have all those things, but we probably take them for granted. Sunday School and Catechism (“confirmation”) class are high-quality courses in the history and meaning of the holy Bible. Sunday School is taught by dedicated, unpaid volunteers who rightly consider it a worthy use of their precious time. Catechism is taught by an ordained minister with 8 years of training and 10 years of experience. What’s more, adult Bible study continues that learning opportunity from confirmation until death.

We’re planning a Thursday evening event at Concordia for fun and fellowship around the Bible, to include kids who are younger than 11 and confirmed youth. What would you like to do on Thursdays?

Lutheran Family Fellowship On Tuesday, August 26, Bethany will hold its next “Lutheran Family Fellowship” night, from 5:30 to 7 PM. Granted, it’s not just for kids. It’s better than that: it’s for whole families. (And this time, we’ll launch [safe] rockets!) It includes free supper too, so you don’t have to prepare anything.

You see, I believe that our families are split up enough already. To keep kids out of trouble, they usually have so many things piled into their schedules that the whole family has to work around it. For many families, a 10-minute dinner together is a luxury.

It’s no wonder that our parents with children have little energy left to spearhead a church youth activity! It’s too much to expect them to support all the secular activities, and then organize something at church to boot. Instead, why not just bring them all for 90 minutes, for simple fellowship and fun with our other families? The trick is to keep it low-key, not demanding. You just show up. That’s Lutheran Family Fellowship.

I’d love to engage kids at church, without competing as entertainment against other activities. Is it a matter of offering more? Looking at what we already offer, I don’t think so. As small churches, we can easily spread ourselves too thin. But if we invite and help each other to use — really use — the blessings we already have, we’ll find ourselves the richer for it.

Unlike in some churches, kids are always an important part of our Divine Service. We don’t send them somewhere else during that time, because the point is God’s forgiveness, and it’s for everyone. May we never take for granted the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Word and Sacraments He uses to bring us forgiveness. That’s the Church’s most effective program for youth and children.

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About Jesse Jacobsen

Pastor Jacobsen moved with his family to the Columbia Gorge in January, 2006. He has been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod since 1998. He resides in The Dalles, serving Bethany Lutheran Church, Concordia Lutheran Church, and Columbia Lutheran School.

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