Jul 25, 2011

Celebrity Agnostic Talks About Children's Ministry

Celebrity Bill Maher is an outspoken agnostic. He consistently mocks Christianity on his television show and at other media appearances. He even went as far as producing a movie called Religulous in which he seeks to discredit and destroy Biblical beliefs. He combined the words religion and ridiculous to form the title of the movie.

What is interesting to me is when he talks about his experience of going to church as a child. It gives you an inside look at why he didn't connect with faith and instead ended up going the opposite direction. As you watch this clip, think about how we can avoid these barriers with the kids in our ministries. My thoughts follow the video.

video

1. He said, "It wasn't relevant to my life. Superman was relevant to my life. Baseball was relevant to my life." 

Why wasn't it relevant? What makes something relevant to a child?
  • Age-appropriateness. We don't expect kids to understand college material in 2nd grade. Why do we think they will grasp teaching that is geared toward adults at church?
  • Great story telling. Superman was relevant to his life because it was an exciting story told well. We have the greatest, TRUE stories ever recorded. Great stories deserve great presentation.
  • Community. Baseball was relevant to his life because it provided the opportunity to be part of a small group of boys that practiced together, played together, laughed together, won together, and sometimes lost together. When a child is part of a community where he or she is known and feels valued, it becomes an important, relevant part of his or her life.
  • Life application. When someone is given truth and then taught how/challenged to live it out, it becomes relevant to their life.
  • Connects with their culture. Relevance knows a child's culture and uses it as a tool to illustrate Biblical truth. Did you pick up on him talking about his toy gun and how he wouldn't take it off? What if someone had entered his culture and used his favorite toy as a link to a Biblical truth?

2. He said, "My parents didn't go to church with me or talk about faith at home."

This shows the importance of parents leading their children spiritually. How can we equip parents to lead their children by word and example?
  • Get it on their radar. Teach them that God has called them to be the primary spiritual influence in their child's life.
  • Give them simple, usable tools that they can use to disciple their children at home.
  • Give them opportunities to serve together as a family.
  • Give them avenues to grow in their faith and parenting skills.

3. He said, "It was so shamelessly invented."

This reminds us that kids are watching not only what we teach, but how we live what we teach. How can we model genuine faith?
  • Practice what we preach...in words...in attitude...in character...in relationships...in serving.
  • Don't categorize our faith. Show kids that our faith is not just something we display on Sunday morning, but something we live every day of the week.
  • Have a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus.
  • Share real time examples of how God is at work in and through our life.

4. He said, "It scared me."

This reminds us that we must teach kids a proper view of God. How can we do this?
  • Teach kids that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for us.
  • Teach kids that Jesus wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to be their best friend.
  • Teach kids that God gave us commandments to help us, not to harm us.
  • Teach kids that fearing God doesn't mean that you have to be afraid of God.
  • Teach kids that God is for them, not against them.  He has their best interests in mind and has a great plan for their life.

5. He said, "It was boring. I had to get up and go to church."

This shows the importance of making church a fun experience for children.  How can we create a place where kids are excited to be?
  • Kid-friendly music.
  • Kid-friendly theming.
  • Let kids laugh....in fact, encourage it.
  • Use fun games to illustrate Biblical truth.
  • Replace "be quiet" with "what do you think?"
  • Build a volunteer team that loves being with kids.
  • Recognize them on their birthday.
  • Form small groups where they can make friends and have a caring leader who personally cares for them.
  • Ask kids what parts of the service are boring...and listen to them. If they say something is boring...guess what...it probably is. Change it up.
  • Honor kid's attention spans. When their attention span is up...do something different and reset their internal clock.
  • Don't just be a talking head when you teach. Use object lessons, sound effects, kid participation, and visual imagery.
  • Watch for when kids look away during the service or class.  Kids look away when they are bored. Tweak or change those parts of the service.

I wonder if the course of Bill's life might have been different if he had been in a relevant Children's Ministry?

What if Bill had been influenced by parents who were equipped to be the primary spiritual influence in his life? Would he be proclaiming God's truth instead of profaning it?
 
If Bill had seen real, genuine faith modeled by someone, I wonder if he would be impacting millions of people for God instead of trying to turn them away from God?

I wonder if Bill would have accepted Christ as His Savior if He had been told how much God loved him?

I wonder if Bill would have stayed in church if it was exciting instead of boring?

There are kids sitting in our Children's Ministries that will one day influence millions of people for God or against God. For most of them, the direction they go is being decided right now in their most formative years.

God, please show us any barriers that may be standing in the way of them connecting with You! And give us the faith and courage to remove them.

What are some other barriers you have heard people mention that kept them from connecting with Jesus as a child? How do you think we can remove them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section so we can learn together.

Posted by Dale Hudson

5 comments:

I like the questions you are asking, but in reality our churches and our children's ministries do not effect anyone's salvation and relationship with God. Yes we can do all we can to help children connect through relevancy. Yes we must remove all barriers that hinder relationship. Did the church he grow up in do these things...unknown.

But still, God must call that person or not. We (children's pastors) cannot cause salvation for a child or not. God alone can do that. We must (as you are stating) remove all hindrances toward relationship with God, but...it is still up to God.

Dale -- great post and analysis.

While kidmin does not EFFECT salvation, it sure can AFFECT salvation. You are right in that it is out of our hands, and completely in God's.

In fact, the biggest thing is not just what we tell or do for them, but how we model a Gospel-changed life. We do need passing on the faith, but that can only happen as we ourselves are growing.

See this for more:

http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com/2011/05/passing-on-your-faith.html

Hello,
Thank you for your insight on this post ... Perhaps another way to think about ministry is to take a page out of God's own mission - in short, He met where people are. We see this in myriad examples of Jesus' own ministry. He didn't spent all his time sitting in synogogues waiting for people to flock to Him. He went to where people are and met them there. In fact, Jesus, the God Incarnate is the perfect example of that. At the end of the day, God took on the form of man so that He can relate to us in the most intimate and effective way. In that way, I think there is a lesson to be learned in meeting the children where they are ... and perhaps would give us a better focus in how we minister to them.

Best,
Matt Y.

Great article. Thank you very much for the reminders! ~Joanna

I'm going to share this with my Lead Pastor. It encapsulates why I do what I do. But being here less than a year, I'm not sure he realizes this about where we are going yet.
This will give me an outside perspective. Thanks.

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