A No Jesus Children’s Ministry?
Do you call an empty lot a house? Do you call an empty house a home? Do you consider a home alive when dead people occupy the house? Does the dead people reproduce life? A house is built with walls, a foundation, a roof and so on. A home is a house occupied by people. The people occupying the home are alive, which allows life to produce life! Like William Wallace ending the movie Braveheart by screaming “freedom” in genuine, torturous anguish only to billow throughout the crowd and echo throughout the towns and villages in Scotland, Ireland and England, I ask with youthful lungs, filled with extreme passion - can our children’s ministries be alive without Jesus and His gospel?
Our children’s ministries may have a building but no people. The ministry may have people but the people are not alive. Where there is death, there is absence of life. A dead or no Jesus children’s ministry makes decisions, implements vision-mission-goals-objectives-strategies, sets standards, invest money-time-energy, trains teachers, reacts to situations or even cares for people without the influence, study, belief and direction of Jesus and His gospel. For some, that statement strikes anger and others encourages humble reflection into the heart of our children’s ministries.
A no Jesus children’ ministries goes beyond mere absence of Jesus and His gospel to the substitute of something else. Jesus may be replaced by the ministry acting as a babysitting company, teaching and creating rules for morals sake, singing songs only reflecting God’s creation instead of the Creator, teachers fueled by self (desire to be known, having authority over another, confident in their creative mind, sees lack of children attendance related to their lack of loyalty to the teacher, angry when rules not followed, abusive in tone-character-physical, sees other churches as competition, etc) and even extremely concerned about attendance numbers versus the spiritual health and guidance to the attendees. When you begin to read the Gospel of Mark as a story rather than as a Chinese proverb, you will begin to see Jesus, learn what type of savior king He is and how we follow Him.
There is a major distinction between struggling with the above points and letting the negative points be the life or driving force of our ministries. The beauty of the gospel reveals itself when we do struggle and Jesus is there to correct, sustain and guide; rather than throw down lightning bolts of hell fire and brimstone. Jesus is here to supply life to our dead children’s ministries, encouragement to our discouragement, hope to our hopelessness, patience to our impatience, vision to our ministry blindness and passion to our depression! Why? Mark 1:17, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’.” Follow Jesus, He guides! Read the Gospel of Mark and attempt to remove Jesus from the story. What do you have? A biography of? A story of? Eternal life from? A coming savior? Hope? Direction from? Nothing but chicken scratch! Now do the same questions with your children’s ministry.
The next post will describe a “False Jesus” children’s ministry and how to begin a healthy direction in identifying the real Jesus.
To be continued …
Further Reading: Finally Alive by John Piper
This is part of the blog posts series from Missional Education on the gospel in children’s ministry.