10 Things Your Children's Ministry Can Learn From Star Wars

Star Wars is a world-wide phenomenon.  The 11 movies have pulled in over 6.5 billion at the box office.  The most recent, Star Wars...the Force Awakens, has earned over $517 million in it's first two days.

Star Wars has a huge fan base that spans all ages.  Devoted fans waited in line for hours for the recent premiere...some up to 15 hours.  Star Wars has also transcended the screen in the form of t-shirts, action figures and theme parks.  It has significantly impacted our popular culture and has stood the test of time.  People have been fans now for decades.

So...why do so many people connect with Star Wars?  What's the appeal that has made the fantasy franchise such an essential part of our pop culture?  Let's take a look at 10 things we can learn from a story that started in a galaxy far, far away.

Talk about family relationships.  It has been said that everyone either hates or fears their father.  This is portrayed in Luke and his father, Darth Vader.  Darth Vader was originally Anakin, a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force.  But he fell to the dark side of the Force and serves the evil Galactic Empire. 

Luke is separated from his father and he is a danger to Luke because of his departure to the "dark side."  When they finally meet in person, Luke doesn't know Darth Vader is his father.  He thinks Darth Vader killed his father.  They immediately get into a light saber duel.  This leads to the following famous exchange.

Darth Vader -  “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”

Luke - “He told me enough!  He told me you killed him.”

Darth Vader - “No.  I am your father.”

In the end, Darth Vader chooses Luke over his status in the evil empire.  Luke forgives him and the relationship is restored.

This important part of the Star Wars drama draws from the well of family relationships.  Family relationships are such a critical part of everyone's life.  The children's ministry that helps people with family relationships will gain an audience.  There are many opportunities to do this through parenting classes, parent-child events, marriage classes and more.

Highlight the battle between good and evil.  Star Wars is an epic battle between good and evil.  It's right in the name, isn't it?  Star WARS.  Good vs. evil is a struggle that touches all of mankind.  It can be traced all the way back to an angel named Lucifer who rebelled against God.

When we share with kids that there's a real struggle between good and evil, they will engage.  When we help them see they can make a difference in this struggle, they will find purpose.  When we help them see they are on the winning side with God, they will find courage. 

Bring humor into the mix.  People love to laugh and the writers of Star Wars knew this.  In the midst of the intensity, they threw in doses of humor.  Here are a few examples:

Captured and dragged to face his enemy, brash pilot Poe Dameron stares into the black mask of Kylo Ren.  After a beat of silence, he cockily ribs the villain with, "Are you talking first?  Or am I?  Who’s supposed to talk first?" 

The moment between two Stormtroopers who are probably at the end of a long day and just don’t need to put up with their supervisor at the moment.  They pause, turn tail, and avoid conflict.

Look for ways to bring humor into your volunteer meetings and children's services.  Kids especially like slapstick humor and it's a great way to engage them in your lessons.

Heroes.  Star Wars is about heroes.  Heroes people can identify with...heroes that people want to be...heroes that people can see themselves as.  

The Bible is full of the stories of great heroes.  Inspire kids to follow God through their challenges, failures, struggles, endurance and triumphs.   

Create a place that people can escape to.  Another reason people connect to Star Wars is because it transcends every day life and helps them enter a special place.  People are looking for a place where they can leave behind the troubles and trials of the world for a few hours.

Church should be a refuge where people can escape to the presence of God.  A place where they can find encouragement and strength to face another week in this broken world.  Church should be a place where kids are excited to come.  A safe place where they can find hope, care and love.  Let's create a place that is the highlight of every kids' week. 

Build community.  For many Star Wars fans, it about much more than the movies.  It's about community.  It's about waiting in line with people who care about the same thing you do...it's about playing light sabers with a friend...it's about connecting with people you share a common interest with.

It's always been about community.  Years ago, people used to gather around fires to share stories....now they gather around a movie theater.  People long for community.  People seek out community.  People gather where they can find community.

Make your church a place where kids and parents can experience community and they'll gravitate toward youProvide opportunities for them to connect through small groups, serving and other avenues. 

Use key phrases to embed truth into kids' long term memory.  Star Wars has several phrases that they've successfully embedded in the long term memory of pop culture.  Here are a few examples.

A long time in a galaxy, far, far away...

May the force be with you. 

The dark side...

If you want kids to remember what you teach them long-term, then use key truth phrases.  First, make the phrases short.  Notice how short the phrases above are.  Secondly, repeat them over and over and over.  The reason you remember the phrases above is because you have heard them multiple times. 

Use music and sound effects.  The music and sound effects are a big part of why people love Star Wars.  Remember the opening song?  The notes probably just popped in your head, didn't they?  Remember the whirring sound of the light sabers?  The sound of lasers firing?  The sound of Darth Vader's voice? 

Music and sound effects are a huge part of making something memorable.  Background music can greatly enhance your children's worship services and set the mood for different elements.  An example is having fast, upbeat music during game time.

Sound effects can greatly enhance Bible lessons.  It can be as simple as having the kids make sound effects while you're telling the Bible story to playing pre-recorded sound effects during a skit.

Captivate people with a story.  Star Wars is a story...a modern fairy tale that incorporates all the elements of a well told story.

Jesus knew how much people love stories.  He used stories as His primary teaching tool, didn't He?  He was the master storyteller.

We have the greatest story of all times, don't we?  The  story line that runs throughout Scripture reveals the glory of God and His plan to redeem fallen mankind.  Tell the story well and you will captivate kids.

Excellence brings influence.  Star Wars has earned the right to be heard.  Each movie has used the latest in technology and advanced techniques to create cinematic excellence.  The Star Wars movies have set new standards, which everyone that followed has copied and built upon.

Children's ministries that want to influence kids and families must be committed to excellence.  A great example of this is found in Daniel 6.  It says "Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.  And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom" 

Look what Proverbs 22:29 says.  "Do you see a man skillful in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men."

Sure...you may not have the budget the makers of Star Wars had...but you can be committed to excellence with what God has placed in your hands.  And when you do that...look what the Bible says in Luke 10.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities."

Excellence leads to more influence.  Do your very best with God has placed in your hands and He will place more in your hands.

Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not, there is much we can learn from their success in connecting with kids and families.  Your turn.  The floor is yours.  Why do you think kids and parents connect so well with Star Wars?  If you're a fan, why do you like it?  What are some other things children's ministry can learn from Star Wars about reaching kids and families?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.