Description: Today’s world is becoming more vocal and outspoken in its attack on the values of God. Do we ignore the rising “popularity” of homosexuality, sexual activity, and declining morals? How do we deal with these things without offending the parents or introducing topics to “innocent” children before they’re “ready”? Discover answers to all those questions.
The World’s Message
- Shouting their message to our children
- God is old fashioned
- Bible is not valuable
The Church is Not As Loud as the World
- Fear of “offending” parents
- Fear of destroying innocence
- Fear of not being viewed as “tolerant”
- Respect for the parents
World’s Voice is First One Heard
- Result of church’s silence
- What children hear from the church is hate
Three Distinct Expectations from Parents
- To help them teach their own children about the “hot topics”
- To teach their children about the “hot topics” for them
- To only teach the Bible, and nothing else
Church needs to speak God’s word clearly to “immunize” against “worldly” thinking.
Issues With Addressing Hot Topics
- Trying to address them while navigating expectations can be dangerous
- Can’t address all hot topics directly with kids (“ending innocence”)
- Understanding / listening to the parents
- Connecting with the parents (to develop trust and a relationship)
- Supporting / training / networking with the parents (seminars, messages, “tools” to use)
“Spiritual Immunization” (Similar to vaccines or immune system boosters)
- “Immerse” in God’s Word
- Inspire with significant godly adult influence
- Instill a personal definition of “right” and “wrong” based on God’s Word
- Challenge children to find satisfaction in God (the shepherd), and thus not “hunger” for worldly things
- Address the “need” without ever talking about the “hot topic”
Active Listening (compare to Paul’s example in Acts 17)
- Listen for hidden “needs” in comments (discernment)
- Listen for unspoken questions or interests (connect with parents)
- Listen for spoken questions or interests (connect with parents)
Satisfy the “hunger” or need (through appropriate means). Ask yourself:
- Can the need be “satisfied” through appropriate means?
- Can appropriate satisfactions of the need be “positively reinforced” through words or actions from others?
- What does God’s Word say about the need?
General guidelines for satisfying the “hunger” or need appropriately
- Provide clear and strong scripture as foundation for identity, value, and morals
- Compliment the child consistently regarding worth, talents, etc. in God’s eyes
- Develop healthy relationships with godly mentors (support parents)
- Provide opportunities for service to others
- Involve the child in fun activities as often as possible
When possible, address the “hot topic” directly
- Consultation with parents (“Your child asked an interesting question today…” or “Your child expressed an interest in ____ today. How can I help you in dealing with that interest?”)
- Consultation with church supervisors
- Age-appropriate progression (from “Be nice to everyone” to “Take your thoughts captive,” to “Keep yourself pure before marriage”)
Jesus’ example with the “Woman at the well.” (John 4)
- Jesus perceived her “need” for significance, security, and the love of a man.
- Jesus supplied her with “living water” to quench her thirst.
About Steve: Steve, Children’s Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Irvine, California, is also a ministry professor at Hope International University in Fullerton, California.