October 10, 2007

The Church And Childrens Ministry

We can't be content just to teach Sunday school, teach our midweek program, and have nice curriculum that we can teach the kids while we're there. We've got to move beyond and consciously equip the parents" – David Michael (Children Desiring God)

Have you ever wondered why, with the amount of time and energy we've poured into children's ministry the last 10 – 15 years, why we are still seeing church dropout rates among college age students at the levels they are at today?

I mean seriously. Wouldn't you think that somehow that investment would be paying off a little bit better? We've spent tens of millions of dollars in churches in North America on nurseries, children's wings, children's worship areas, children's sports programs, children's discipleship programs, VBS, children's choirs, children's this and that, and yet somehow they just aren't sticking. At all. And somewhere along the way, don't you think we should stop and ask ourselves why? Are we just spinning our wheels?

I think David Michael, and quite frankly a lot of folks, are understanding and now communicating that the church can only do so much. You can have all the flash, all the fighter verses, all the programs you want, but unless you consciously (or "intentionally") equip and teach parents how to guide and shepherd their children for Jesus, it will be largely ineffective and quite possibly counter-productive. The church was never given the responsibility to be the primary teacher of Biblical truth to your children. For that matter, the church was never meant to be the primary teacher of Biblical truth to you the adult.

Like father, like son. See we as Christians have abdicated our own personal responsibility of growing ourselves and learning right thinking about God to the church, so why wouldn't we do the same when it comes to our children.

If we won't look to ourselves for our own spiritual growth, we certainly aren't going to look to ourselves for our kid's spiritual growth.

And that is the primary problem with children's and youth ministry today – not that we aren't spending enough money on them.

David really does give a great message and you need to go here to download and listen to it. There are some things he talks about that certainly are good discussion topics and hopefully I will get to those sometime here on the blog. You may not agree with all of his thoughts on effective children's ministry but there's one thing that is for sure.

Without parental involvement, children's ministry will be a largely ineffective endeavor amounting to little more than teaching good moral principles and providing safe Christian babysitting.



Janice Backes said...

Marc, How curious that you would comment on young people leaving their "Church" while in college. Isn't that exactly what you did as a member of the one True Church on earth--the Catholic Church? At college age most young people are searching for something or someone in their lives to bring real meaning to their life. It's unfortunate that their lives up to that point seem empty to them, even though they have had every opportunity to learn about Jesus, a lot of them have not spent enough time in introspection to develop a deep connection with Jesus Christ--they can be easily be swayed by a "good salesman" who will know just what to say or do that will lead them from the faith of their fathers. Love you!

Marc Backes said...

I wouldn't exactly categorize what I did in college as leaving the church. You actually have to be in church to leave it. I think the kids I'm talking about in this article are kids that are actually in church frequently..I would say my church attendance prior to leaving for college was sporadic to non-existent.

You make an interesting point kids not developing a deep connection with Jesus. From experience, I can say that one of the biggest reasons for that (Catholic or Protestant) is because church is nothing more than checking something off a list for most families.

The list usually goes like this:
A) Go Grocery Shopping - Check
B) Go To The Soccer Game - Check
C) Go To Church - Check
D) Watch The Football Game - Check

When you relegate your faith in Jesus to something you just do once every week, you begin to see that you really don't have a faith at all...at least not by Biblical standards...

On a final note...one thing we will disagree on forever it seems is the statement "The One True Church"...it really bothers me not that most Catholics feel that way...it all goes back to how you view the statement in the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one holy, catholic (little c), and apostolic church.

catholic = "universal" not "Roman Catholic"