Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
When you’re flipping through television stations, do you stop at the Cartoon Channel to see what’s on? Do you frequently check out the best-seller listing of top children’s books to know what kids are reading? Do you subscribe to magazines aimed at kids? Do you watch commercials on Saturday morning to get a feel for toys are popular with kids today? Do you go out of your way to find kids’ movies? Do you walk up and down the aisles at toy stores to see what they’re playing with? As workers in Children’s Ministry, we must be acutely aware of the culture that the kids in our ministry are living in. We must understand it in order to converse with the kids on their level and in order to take steps to counteract any negative impacts that our culture may have on them. After all, the Bible tells us to be in the world but not of the world, and we should have the same goal for the kids we minister to. We must appreciate the subculture of kids in order to relate to them on their level.
Furthermore, it’s important to always keep your eyes and ears open. You never know where you might find a great story or an object lesson you can use on a Sunday morning. Jesus taught in parables that were relevant and understandable to those he was teaching. Where possible, we should try to do the same thing with the kids we minister to.
A word of warning though is appropriate here. The gospel and the Bible are timeless and are as good for teaching children today as they were a thousand years ago. I am not talking about “updating” the Bible or the gospel in order to make it relevant to kids. What I am suggesting is that in order to build relationships with kids that will enable us to speak the gospel and Word of God into their lives, we must understand and learn from the kid culture. In order to connect with kids, we must understand the world that they live in on a daily basis.
Finally, we must understand that just because it’s secular doesn’t necessarily make it bad. There are things we can learn from culture. For example, I took my wife and kids to Disney World in Orlando for a week last January. I couldn’t help but look around and drink in the sense of excitement and wonder of the kids in those parks. I started to think, “How can we create this same type of excitement amongst the children in our churches?” When I watch American Idol, I see an example of the futile chasing after worldly success and acceptance that is prevalent in our society that ignores the fact that true success and acceptance can only be found in Christ. When I hear a new worship song, I wonder how the kids in our ministry would react to it if we included it in our song rotation. I start to analyze kids songs I hear on the radio to try to figure out what makes them appealing to kids. When I walk through the bookstore, I check out the kids section to see if the books they are reading can somehow be used as part of a Bible lesson. When I play the Wii with my kids, I take note of what excites them and what they find boring.
We should always be on the lookout for something we can use to relate to the kids in our ministry and teach them more effectively. So long as those things are not unbiblical, there is no reason we can’t incorporate some of them into our Children’s Ministry. We must be constantly observing and learning from the kids around us. We must become keen observers of the culture in which the kids in our ministry live. Children’s Ministry is much more than something we do on the weekends. It must become part of our normal everyday lives.