Last month, two of my kids ambushed me on a Saturday night. Here’s the gist of how it started:
First child: “I don’t want to go to church tomorrow. Can we skip this week?”
Me: “No, we are not going to skip church this week.”
Second Child: “Why not? I already know all of the Bible stories.”
Yikes! Those are some big questions! Parents, how would you respond?
If I hadn’t recalled this article by Trevin Wax, I think I would have stumbled and bumbled a bit. But my children’s inquiry was so eerily familiar to the question Wax recounts from his son that it jogged my memory. What could have been a major fumble turned into a great conversation about the reasons why we go to church in the first place.
You can read the article for yourself if you want a more detailed response, but here’s the short version: We don’t go to church to learn information, although that can be a helpful part of what we do there. The reason why we go to church is to grow in our faith and love for God and to praise him together with other believers.
Or to put it negatively: Regardless of your age, skipping church won’t seem like a big deal if your reason for going is anything other than Jesus.
Several of our children’s ministry workers have been reading through a fantastic book this year called Show Them Jesus. Here’s an excerpt about why so many of those who grow up in church walk away from God as young adults:
Today, a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the gospel of Jesus. . . . These kids actually have good reasons to quit. They look back and realize that they learned much about Christian behavior and churchy experiences, but whatever they learned about Jesus didn’t really change them. They never saw him so strikingly that he became their one, overriding hope and their greatest love. They were never convinced that Jesus is better—a zillion times better—than anything and everything else. Our goal must be for kids to catch this rock-their-world vision of Jesus. (Klumpenhower, pp. 3-4)
If you have kids, you’ve probably noticed the new curriculum we started using this summer: The Gospel Project for Kids. (As a side note, The Gospel Project is edited by Trevin Wax, whose article I referenced earlier.) I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve been hearing from teachers, parents, and children. We want to set our teachers and parents up for success, and good curriculum is a tool that helps us do that.
What I most appreciate about The Gospel Project, however, is the perspective it brings on what really matters in children’s ministry. It’s ultimately not which curriculum we use (although we do want to provide our teachers with excellent materials). It’s not the appearance of our facility (although atmosphere and environment do matter). It’s not how much fun the kids have while they’re here or how excited they are about the games, snacks, or crafts. It’s not how many friends they look forward to seeing in their class each week. It’s not even how many Bible verses they learn.
Those are all good things, but none of them is the best thing. None of them is why Kossuth Street Baptist Church is here. None of them is why numerous volunteers invest countless hours with kids every week. Not even close.
The reason why we are here, the reason why we do what we do, is the surpassing worth of Jesus (Phil. 3:8). Our calling is to show kids over and over, week after week, how Jesus is better than anything and everything else. It’s parents and teachers partnering together to engage kids in the gospel story and impress their hearts with a love for Jesus.
I’m thankful that The Gospel Project helps us move in that direction, but no curriculum is a “silver bullet.” Whether you are a children’s worker, parent, or grandparent, our mission is the same: in your words and with your life, keep showing kids Jesus.