As I look around in the children’s ministry community I see two disparate trends. On the one hand there is a trend towards more interactive, lively, kid-friendly environments. On the other side is a group of people that think this is the wrong way to go. This had me really thinking recently which way is better. Should be hype up our environments, amping up the color and the energy level. Or should we go for something more calm and cool? I believe that our environments should be fun and full of color and wonder. Here’s why:
Disney does it. Ok, I know that in and of itself this is not a good reason to do anything. I can almost hear my mother now, “If they were jumping off a bridge would you do that too?” Stay with me. Disney has a long history of reaching and teaching kids. There may have been a time that their message was more wholesome and pure. That day has long gone, but still still they are reaching kids. I would go so far as to say that they are the best in the world at reaching kids and families. They have worked hard to become experts on kids; what they like, what they enjoy, how they learn; how to entertain them. Guess what… IT WORKS. They are reaching more and teaching more kids than any other organization on the planet. Reaching and teaching kids is what we want to do too. So, if they are doing is so well, maybe we should take a look at what they are doing.
Kids are listening and learning. I remember when my son, Trey, was younger he really loved a Disney show called, “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.” The main characters were the twins sons of a single mom. They lived in a large, fancy apartment building in some large city. They basically had free run of the building. They could go where they wanted and, pretty much, do what they wanted. The mother was seldom around and the father was almost nonexistent. The kids showed very little discipline and were extraordinarily disrespectful to adults and authority. Some time later I remember Trey becoming increasingly disrespectful to me and his mother. I quickly made the link between this show and his behavior. He was emulating what the behavior of the characters in this show. I sat him down and firmly explained that the show was make believe and that the kind of behavior he saw on that show WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED in our home. His behavior improved, but I realized in that moment that kids are learning from what many might see as harmless entertainment.
Stop complaining, start changing. It is an interesting dichotomy where some of the same people that complain about what they view as “entertainment focused children’s ministry” also complain about the effect that mainstream media is having on our kids. Hmm. The very same methods that these people are criticizing in church are clearly working outside the church. In their very complaints they acknowledge the effectiveness of their methods. Clearly the message we have is far better than theres. Clearly our message can not be compromised. But, if their methods are working (and often having a greater impact than our methods) maybe we should examine them more closely. Maybe, instead of squashing the creativity of God’s people we should applaud it.
Holy Spirit + the image of God = ultimate creativity. It can be difficult and overwhelming to look at Disney and even begin to try to compare what we do to what they do. Clearly there are some of the most creative people on the earth working for them. But, we have an advantage. They, like us, are created in the image of God. Genesis tells us that this is true of all people. But, we also have the influence of the Holy Spirit. Disney has nearly unlimited funds. This is seldom true in the church, but we have something better, UNLIMITED POWER (in my best super hero voice). We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the innate creativity that comes from being made in the image of the creator. Stop wasting time lamenting the resources and creativity that Disney and other mainstream media outlets have and start tapping into the creativity that is waiting within you.
Holy Spirit is the key. Let’s face it, we can never be Disney. We can never do things the way they do. But, we can have an impact that is even greater. Connecting with the Holy Spirit is the key to this. Planning is great, but we must take time to connect with God, to connect with the Holy Spirit. If you find you are struggling creatively take time to evaluate your daily walk with God. Are you taking time EVERY DAY to be in the presence of God? Are you reading your Bible EVERY DAY? Are you praying EVERY DAY?
Let’s take our kids back. I think it is time that we stopped complaining about the impact Disney and other mainstream media outlets are having on our kids and take them back. Let’s stop lamenting what the others have and relish in what we have. Let’s celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit and then be guided by Him as we reach out to kids. Let’s take them back from the world that has such a grasp on even the kids that are in the church. Let’s rescue kids that are not in the church and drown in the worlds influence. Let’s stand up and take on the Great Commission as never before.Matt Norman
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.