Let’s deal with the dinosaur in the room shall we? One issue always rampant in church circles is the matter of dress and decorum. Should one suit up? Should one go casual? Studies and other such things have been tossed to are fro for quite some time. Casualites will say Jesus rocked a toga. Formalites would say we dress up for the president.
Another interesting dinosaur is the issue of respect, but just a little bit. In an increasingly casual society there is an increasingly large respect gap emerging. Formalites will charge that such is the cost of being casual. I think not. John the Baptist rocked a massively blue collar outfit. Ah, but I’m a casualite, of course I’d say that. Hold the “smart” phone…
The issue of formality is people saw through the hypocrisy that was behind it. Yes, you LOOK like you have it together. But do you really? Yeah, thought so. The issue isn’t formal vs causal, it is respect vs disgrace. Now, that is a whole new subject. Still, as society is increasingly casual, respect is really dropping. Why? We don’t play enough. Seriously.
As respect drops and bullying goes up, and kids play video games into their thirties, what also dropped over the last few years? Recess, sandlots, and other things that can cause concussions. I remember child labor laws that would only allow me to work so many hours as a 14 year old. I remember losing my first job of mowing because I was not old enough to operate the lawn tractor I had successfully driven for months. I also remember hearing friends losing their jobs because minimum-wage went up. I remember my first pay raise being from an increase in minimum wage, not merit.
It’s not a matter of formal vs casual that breeds respect, but human decency. Treat people as less human and less capable and you’ll breed disrespect like Ebola. In times past we trusted kids to play. We figured it out. We didn’t need organize sports telling us how to conduct ourselves. We could play with guns and shoot bad guys. We learned to handle danger as one a generation would get hurt on metal jungle gyms. We were taught to respect things, earn things, achieve things. And regardless of winning or losing, our conduct of character mattered most. (We could also hit a bully without getting suspended. These said takedowns also bred respect and positive friendships for some.) We treat kids as less human and that’s gone on for over 30 years now.
Rather than play the formal vs casual game, let’s focus on character and human decency. Let your kids play. Let them take risks. Let them work. In teaching respect you’ll find their character will outshine their casualness. But learning respect is hard if we rob kids play. Play is the secret sauce of how kids learn relationship dynamics, risk taking, and pursuing dreams.