I recently read this article about why kids are leaving the church. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what was said. However, it wasn't the article itself that prompted me to write this post, it was many of the comments that were posted after it.
Over and over again angry, bitter adults expressed their frustration at the inaccurate teaching they received as children. In a nutshell, they were coddled with a kid-friendly, watered-down version of the gospel. As someone who is passionate about children's ministry it was heartbreaking to read. However, it also reminded me why we do what we do!
These comments expose a very real problem in children's ministry and like many of you, we are trying to use our talents and resources to repair it as quickly as possible for the sake of the gospel. Whether you choose to use our resources or not, please keep a few things in mind when you choose what curriculum to teach the children you are responsible for.
- Don't water down the gospel! It's easy to leave out tough topics like sin, judgment, and God's wrath with children. However, when you only teach about God's love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness you're giving children half the truth. Jesus made it clear that the world would hate His followers as they hated Him (John 15:18). People who follow Jesus still get cancer, still watch their parents get divorced, and are still subject to ridicule. People, including children, need the bad news in order to appreciate the good news of the gospel. Jesus didn't sugarcoat the truth and neither should we (Matthew 18). There's no "easy" way to share the offensiveness of the gospel and if a curriculum company tells you there is...run the other way. Trust the gospel and don't be ashamed of it. Shoot straight and tell the truth.
- Let Scripture do the work! Why do we replace Scripture with platitudes? Why do we not use Bibles with children? If we do use them, why do we often read a verse or two and spend the rest of the 20 minute lesson doing magic tricks, object lessons, watching cartoons, and playing games? These things are fun...I get it. Children learn by being involved...I get it. I do concerts where we shoot confetti, fire off cryojets, have a live band, dancers, and a big light show...I'm not against entertainment. However, our best attempts to "grab attention" will never change a life like the truth of Scripture. Is it "easy" to teach the Bible to a classroom of wiggly first graders? No. Is it worth the extra work to avoid the comments I read connected to this article? Absolutely. The God who created the universe can surely help children understand His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. A high view of Scripture leads to a high view of God!
These haven't always been very popular ideas. However, we have seen what can happen when these changes are implemented. The gospel has power. Scripture has power. Everything else is simply window dressing. The church will stand, and even though I can appreciate articles like the one mentioned for bringing important issues to our attention, I am not fearful for the future of the church. Scripture clearly states that the church will remain strong until the end and hell doesn't have a prayer of standing against it. This isn't daycare...this is war. The souls of our children are worth fighting for!