Tag: children’s ministry

Why Kids Ministry: Part 2 (And most vital)

The wonder of children

What’s that, Daddy?
~ Jadon

How often have you heard someone wish to be a kid again? Kids are the gateway to being a kid again. They are live novels in process. We get to be an editor, a writer, and a reader.  There is an infectious nature of kids ministry that the church needs, fresh eyes! The wonder of life is new to children. With the loss of newness we often lose the wonder. Serving kids brings back wonder.

What?
What is the question of discovery. It tries to figure out the uniqueness of an object.  Curious adventures of children take on names. Names answer what. It is more than a name. Kids delight as they can now say what so captivates their attention. Take sky, for example. It is the name of a massive canvas of wonder and adventure, from color, to birds, to planes, to cotton balls suspended in bliss, to the falling of snow on your tongue. Just because we know the name doesn’t mean we should stop asking what.

Why?
If a name were not enough, children remind us of the importance of philosophy, history and theology. They do not use such grandiose words, but those are the fields of study for a child. Simplicity is not the removal of complexity, just try to answer a child’s question of why. Why, a most simple question leading to the most intriguing conversations, amusing anecdotes, and cunning epiphanies. Answering why drives us to the most important aspect of learning, the inevitable ‘I don’t know.’ Just because we’re busy and grown up doesn’t mean we should stop asking why.

Jump up!
You know you want to! Now you’re feeling self-conscious, it’ll pass. Children don’t read into things too much. Yes, this is a result of being naïve, but not always. Children love delight, they love fun. The curse of sin made life hard. Children remind us of what life is to be and one day will be for sure: delightful, fun, engaging. So, jump up! Children do not take themselves seriously because play is serious work. Play is exploring possibilities, seeing what can be done, and just having fun. Play is not entertainment, that gets boring. Just because we’re self conscious and mature doesn’t mean we should stop jumping. (On a bed or couch is most fun!)

Hugs…
Kids understand what is most important. They understand that people matter most. Just because we’re adults with various responsibilities doesn’t mean we should stop looking for ways to bless others.

The bottom line:
Why kids ministry? Because we are forgetful. The crime of lacking a vibrant kids ministry isn’t the loss of a new generation. The crime is we have lost our own. Ask what. Ask why. Jump. Hug. And, if you forgot how, then ask a kid because that is what they do best. It is how kids disciple you and I. We cannot afford losing the wonder of life and the God who made it.

Why Kids Ministry: Part 1

The Value of Children

A Child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. They are going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important. You may adopt all the policies you please; but how they are carried out depends on them. They will assume control of your cities, states and nations. They are going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations. All your books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by them. The fate of humanity is in their hands.
~Abraham Lincoln

I highly doubt a church will come right out and claim that children are not important to God. The adage is true, however, actions speak louder than words. It alarms me that only one out of four churches lists reaching children as a priority. The church, like the society it dwells in, does not value children. Note Barna’s transformation in his chapter entitles I mist the Ocean:

Yet somehow the wisdom and necessity of seeing children as the primary focus of ministry never occurred to me. In that regard, perhaps I’ve simply been a product of my environment. Like most adults, I have been aware of children, fond of them and willing to invest some resources in them; but I have not really been fully devoted to their development. In my mind, they were people en route to significance—i.e., adulthood—but were not yet deserving of the choice resources.

An audiotape of Barna’s workshop describes the reality of this problem. Barna was surprised at how many pastors called and asked if the workshop on children could be moved to a more “skippable” spot because their time was so valuable. Barna purposely placed the session on children in an inconvenient place for people to skip it, thus it confirming his findings.

The problem  will continue to grow
Given advances in medicine and the standard of living, the adult population is continuing to grow. 1993 marked the first year where there were more senior citizens than teens. This trend can be partially attributed to the millions of humans who have been aborted. As the adult population grows, the propensity to gear church ministries primarily to adults will grow. What can children contribute to church finances or church growth? The results of this attitude leave children largely on their own. The mere lack of role models for children points to this issue. Marva Dawn’s states:

What makes the battle so intense in the present world is that so much of life is becoming ambiguous, chaotic, fearsome, unmoored. Consequently, people cling more desperately to whatever idolatries seem to them capable of freeing them from pain, confusion, weariness, or meaninglessness. The powers function to twist such things as efficiency, money, or fame into the gods of our lives, and thus God’s designs for good are distorted, corrupted, and deflected into contrary purposes. Our neighbors in the world (and we, in spite of knowing better) wind up with the ultimate concerns that are trite, violent, enslaving or flimsy. These goals will never ultimately satisfy or repress our deepest longing; they will never alleviate our aching bone-weariness, satiate our galling thirst, or pierce our bitter darkness.

A generation that did not know
What happens when a society does not reach its young ones is disaster. Judges 2:10 states that “another generation rose up who did not know the LORD or the works He had done for Israel.” This is a very easy thing to do if one does not know God nor the things that He has done. With biblical literacy low, many 20-year-olds leaving the church, and church statistics are as dismal as the world. It is becoming safer to say that a new generation grew up that did not know God nor the things of God.

The bottom line
To have a lasting impact on the world one must reach people when they are young, when they are children. Jesus’ words carry more urgency today than ever. Not showing children the way to Christ is another way of hindering them. Mediocrity in the pew comes from lack of diligence in to the cradle. If the “kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” the church needs to give serious attention to reaching and equipping the emerging generation.  Millenials search for spirituality and significance may be grasping for the God they know to be there whom they were not clearly told about.

To be godly or not to be, that is the wrong question…

God or Godly Character? Is it a matter of balance? How do we address the fact of God changing the inside verses outward appearance and conformity? In discipleship and teaching there is a tension between these two.

Where we are at
Within the North American Church there seems to be a dichotomy between theology and practice. Such a focus tends to make church man centered rather than God centered as people focus on what is seemingly practical and ‘skip’ the foundation that sustains the practical. The high value we see for practical, application, “easy to do” gives evidence to this dichotomy. At the same time, I’ve seen dead orthodoxy where the Bible and theology are taught, but frankly it is dull and seemingly not applicable to one’s life, just tons of data. Theology is not a data dump.

Where the Bible points
The pattern we often see in Scripture is that as people encounter God (theology), their lives change (application). In Joshua chapter 1, God explicitly tells Joshua to know the law cold (theology) so he may be careful obey it and have success by following it (application). Paul instructs Timothy to be watchful of his teaching (theology) and his ministry (application). Theology at its core, its very essence, is encountering God. Encountering God demands that we change as we realize who He is. To separate theology from application is to create a dichotomy that does not exist in Scripture.

Bottom line
We act (application) based on what we believe (theology).

Perhaps if our eyes become more attuned to God and our relationship with Him, that correct behavior will follow. That is the pattern we see in Scripture. Your faith has healed you, go and sin no more.

Book Review: Think Orange by Reggie Joiner

“As leaders our primary purpose is not to keep our children in church, but to lead them to be the church.” (p. 217)

Think Orange will be the defining work on Children’s Ministry & Family Ministry for quite some time. A significant discussion within the church is the relationships between the church, the family, and the various generations within both. From a methodology standpoint, Think Orange gives a road map to answer these questions. The book’s strengths are in explaining the why and what questions of a Family Ministry. There are other resources by the ReThink group that address the how.

The why question is critical
While there are many who do not appreciate or think philosophically, what you believe truly effects what you do. Reggie Joiner does an excellent job of explaining the essential role of both the family, the church and how they are combined and interact through leveraging community. A continual frustration of mine in Children’s Ministry is how programs or materials merely view parents as important, not essential. Think Orange views parents as essential! The combination or synergy of the family with church produced produces a powerful result. Reggie states: “2 combined influences make a greater impact than just 2 influences.” (p. 15) This principle, along with others, gives practical guidance to living out the truths of Scripture, in particular the parents’ role in discipling their children and the church’s role in equipping the saints for ministry.

The what question is helpful
What is needed is a collaborative model for family ministry, and not a hap hazard, random, or departmentalized one. Essential #1: Integrate Strategy, starting on page 110, is the most critical section answering what we need. A professor of mine often used the term “braiding,” getting various things to work together.  Having an integrated strategy helps all areas of family ministry to be on the same team and working towards the same goal. Said another way, it teaches children about the church by being a church. As a child grow up in the church, he or she is taken to another level at each life stage, including transitions between life stages. With society causing more and more fragmentation, the church needs to be a place that brings people together. Think Orange understands the equilibrium between families together, age appropriateness, and being one church. This equilibrium is a result from Reggie high view of community. Children are not the church of tomorrow but the church of today.

Final Thoughts
The book’s design and layout is helpful for those who are sequential & analytical thinkers, or the more abstract & random thinkers. It offers many ideas, discussion questions and insights. The book can be read sequentially, treated as a manual or encyclopedia on family ministry methodology. The charts and quotes that stand out were extremely well done and help to navigate the book.

Reggie shares frequently how the ideas translated into what was done at North Point. One should be careful to distinguish between example and what is/ what works at North Point. This is normally distinguishable, but there are times when it may be confusing. This is not a criticism, just something to be aware of. Another point that stands out and one should be aware of is Reggie’s humility. He gives permission to disagree with him, and even states that he may disagree with himself. This tone and attitude is refreshing and should be more prevalent within the church.

The Bottom Line
Think Orange is a critical work to navigate through if you are serious about impacting yours and other children to be the church, not merely attend church! Its strength is in family ministry methodology, with a close secondary strength in ministry philosophy.