I have to admit (though it may seem a little sacrilegious for a pastor), I was not a big fan of church as a kid. One of my first memories of going to church was when I was 5 or 6 years old. Everytime I recall that memory it reminds me of the one question every children’s ministry must answer, “so what?”
One Sunday morning, I was watching an episode of “Super Friends” when my dad told me it was time to go to church. I reluctantly got dressed and off we went.
Instead of letting me sit with them in BIG church, my parent dropped me off in Sunday School. I remember the teacher had us gather around her on the floor for “circle time”. She then told us a story from the Bible about a guy that was thrown into a lion’s den and lived to tell about it. The other kids in class seemed to know the story really well because they could recall all the details from memory.
I have to admit; I thought the story was cool. But I thought to myself, “so what”? Sure, the lions didn’t eat the guy but I never really understood the point of the story. For me, I would have rather watched the Super Friends defeat their enemies in the Legion of Doom. At least then, I could have stayed in my PJ’s.
I believe many kids leave our ministries each week asking the same question, “so what”? They may be able to recite the Bible story verbatim, but they are missing the point of the story. We may be teaching them the story of Daniel, but they fail to notice the point of Daniel’s obedience to God and his trust in Him no matter what happened in his life. Our children may love the story of David fighting a giant but never grasp that it was God’s power working in and through David that killed Goliath, not his accuracy with a slingshot.
If we want God to change the lives of the kids in our ministries, we have to teach them to apply His Word by answering the question…“so what?”.
Our goal is not that kids in our ministries can regurgitate a Bible story but that we reproduce the principles of the Bible story in their lives. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word…Do what it says”. Our children’s ministries need to help kids develop heart attitudes, motivations, and actions that are in line with God and His Word. We have to help them move beyond having a Biblical “knowledge” to living a Biblical “lifestyle”.
In other words, our purpose is to help children learn God’s story from the Bible and how to live out God’s story in their daily lives. If we can accomplish this each and every Sunday our kids will gladly turn off their cartoons and come to church to learn how God wants to change them from the inside out.
For more ways to build a healthy children’s ministry, check out this post.