Nov 16, 2017

What Children's Ministry Needs to Learn from Muslims

Recently, I met an amazing children's ministry leader who has an incredible testimony.  She was raised as a devoted Muslim.  As an adult, through a series of events, she came to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Her family turned their back on her, but she remained true to her faith in Jesus.  She got involved in children's ministry in her local church and now leads the ministry.  Her passion and commitment to reaching the next generation for Christ inspired me.

One thing she shared with me is how much Christians could learn from Muslims about passing on our faith to the next generation.  In contrast, she shared how she got frustrated at times when she saw Christian parents and churches that were lackadaisical about reaching and teaching the next generation.

You see, from an early age, Muslim children are taught to "follow Allah." And there is much we can learn from their commitment to passing on their faith to the next generation.
 
Muslim leaders know that parents leverage enormous leverage in what they teach their children.  They hold parents responsible for steering their children's upbringing according to the guidelines of the Quran.  Muslim parents must take an active role in guiding their children on the "path of truth."  They base this on the Quran passage that says "A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them.”

It's time for children's ministries to focus more on equipping and challenging parents to influence their children spiritually.  We must shift much of our time and attention to influencing the primary influencers of spiritual formation...parents.  Parents are the biggest factor in seeing kids stick with their faith into adulthood.  We must help parents see this and pour into them so they can pour into their children.

Muslim leaders provide in-depth teaching and training for Muslim children.  Children are taught that Allah is the one true Lord of the universe and should have complete control over their lives.  Children must understand the concepts and teachings of the Quran.  They are taught how to defend their faith.  As part of their training, they are also taught all the rituals of worship which includes the five times of prayer each day, fasting, charity, memorizing the Quran, etc.

We've all read the stats and reports of children who have walked away from the church and even their faith in many cases.  The number one reason children are walking away is because we've done a poor job of teaching them solid Bible doctrine and helped them see why we believe what we believe.  It's time the church starts taking kids deeper into God's Word and helping them understand why we believe what we believe.  We must prepare kids to defend their faith.  

I am not saying we shouldn't make learning a fun experience for kids at church.  How we teach is not the issue.  We should continue using games, activities, crafts and other effective methods to teach.  The issue is what we are teaching.

Fluff has to be replaced with solid faith-building lessons that move beyond what has been coined as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."   This consists of beliefs like "the central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself."  While we've been teaching kids that it's all about them, Muslims have been teaching their children that their purpose in life is to serve Allah.  Even if it means forfeiting their lives for the cause of Islam.  And then we wonder why our kids are walking away from their faith while Muslim children are willing to die for theirs.

Muslim children are prepared to think critically and navigate through other belief systems.  Their goal is to see their children develop elevated thinking that can enable them to "ponder critical issues that can help them reconcile the many confusing ideologies that the world will throw at them as they grow up."

As I referenced earlier, as Christians, it is critical that we teach our children what we believe and empower them to be able to defend their faith.

Muslims are committed to passing on their faith to the next generation.  They put forth their best efforts to ensure that their children become true inheritors of Islam and keep it alive.  The sad part is, it is a false belief system that teaches a works salvation and denies Jesus as the way, truth and life.   

It's time that we, as Christ-followers, become passionately committed to passing on the truth of God's Word to the next generation.  It's time we start preparing them and showing them how to live lives that are sold out to the cause of Christ.

Then and only then, will we begin to see kids walking strong in the faith rather than walking away from it.

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