I like fluffy bunnies.
I enjoy wearing fluffy socks.
And I love fluffy cotton candy.
But should our children’s programs be fluffy?
Kids4Truth wrote a great article about this phenomenon here:
But I’d like fluff-in for a minute, if I may.
Have you ever really considered the spiritual efficacy of singing “Deep and Wide”?
If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a very involved parent. I remember the first Sunday my son told me he sang “Deep and Wide” in Sunday School. I said, “That’s great! Do you know what that song means?”
After about a minute of blank stares, I clued him in.
There’s No G-Rated Version of the Bible
Have you ever noticed that though God has some specific instruction for children, there’s no kid-version of the Bible?
The Gospel’s the same.
The Spirit’s empowerment is the same,
The responsibilities for spiritual growth are the same.
With the exceptions of relationship-specific commands, the entirety of the Bible applies to children as it does to adults.
So why do our children’s ministries differ so much from the others in the church? Why do we feel the need to fluff our kids’ programs? Why do we even have children’s ministries?
Have you ever heard someone say, “But she’s only four.” as if that somehow excuses her brattiness? What about, “He’s going through a phase.” Am I allowed to use that excuse to sweep my behavior under the rug?
It’s obvious that children are different than adults in many ways (height notwithstanding), but do you realize that when it comes to God’s truth . . . there’re very few differences.
“But,” you say, “the Bible tells us that foolishness is bound in the heart of children! See, there are intrinsic differences!
Yes, but every other example of a fool in the Bible refers to adults. Foolishness resides in their hearts just as much. And just as the rod of correction will drive out the child’s foolishness, so does the rod to the back of the bigger fool.
In my years of ministry I’ve noticed that almost every single reason or source we cite to defend that children need something that adults don’t, or that we should treat them differently, comes from extra-biblical sources. It’s impossible to argue for a fluffy children’s ministry from Scripture.
None of the biblical injunctions for our mini-people can be used to argue for flannel boards or circle-games. Should children honor and obey their parents? Yes. But the only thing I can extrapolate from this command is that children should receive instruction from and submit to their parents. It has no bearing on their ability to understand the Bible or my necessity to use cute morality tales.
In fact, Jesus Himself told the group of men who followed Him that unless they became as a child they could not be converted! He told the apostles that unless they humbled themselves as children, they wouldn’t even understand God’s truth. Perhaps the adults are the ones who need flannel boards.
My point in all of this is simple. Many of the reasons we have a children’s ministry are simply unbiblical.
Don’t misunderstand me . . .
I’m all about a children’s ministry that exists for Christ-honoring, biblical reasons. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s a glorified baby-sitting service because mom and dad don’t want to have to deal with the children they haven’t taught to listen to and understand God’s Word.
Fluffy children’s ministries stand in opposition to the truth that God gives us everything we need for life and godliness from the pages of His Word and the power of a His Spirit . . . and it doesn’t matter how young the believer is! The Father still loves them in His perfection. The Son still died for them in His holiness. The Spirit still works in them to His fullest. They have the same gospel. They have the same responsibilities. They have the same Bible.
How do I check my ministry’s Fluff-Rating?
Do you avoid reading the actual words of the Bible? Isn’t paraphrasing good enough?
Do you find more value in an event or game than you do a lesson? Children won’t want to come to Sunday School if they won’t enjoy themselves!
Do you sing songs with little-to-no understandable spiritual application (“Father Abraham”), or do you sing songs with spiritual depth but forget to explain the concepts (“Deep and Wide,” or “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock”)? Everyone knows “Father Abraham” was written to wear kids out before the lesson! How else can we expect them to pay attention?
Do you teach more missionary stories and Billy/Suzy illustrations than biblical truth? But missionary stories have more adventure than the Bible!
Do you promote morality without emphasizing the deeper reality of a relationship with God? Veggie Tales teach kids how to behave. Who needs doctrine?
Do you know what I find really interesting?
Churches with the most biblically sound children’s ministries promote kids sitting with their families in the main service, and the kids’ service times they do have resemble the adult services with informed worship, biblical exposition, and appropriate application . . . and they know how to have fun too.