My Pet-Peeves about Children’s Ministries
Pastor Brian Borgman
Sunday School and VBS curriculum which trivializes and moralizes the Bible.
The Bible is a glorious book about God and His Son Jesus Christ. The storyline is drama at its highest, best and most gripping. So why would we diminish the power of redemptive history by making the events of redemptive history about being strong or brave or good boat builders? Why would we reduce the magnitude of the “Word became flesh” by turning him into a cartoon figure who feeds His friends by teaching them to share their lunch? Why would we minimize the maximal power of grace by putting the Bible into little neat “be and do” categories? Sunday School curriculum should point to the power and glory of the Gospel, whether the story is about Noah or Samson or the feeding of the five thousand. Our kids should be wowed with the greatness of God, not the supposed genius of Bible characters, who in reality were sinners in need of grace.
Children’s Church which substitutes for Church
The assembly of God’s people is where the King of Heaven is enthroned upon the praises of His people. The assembly of the saints is where our heavenly Father meets with His family. The Lord Jesus is present in the midst of His church. His worship is glorious. There is truth and heritage in the hymns. There is love and adoration in our songs of praise. The Spirit of God is in His holy temple. So why would we deconstruct the Divinely appointed worship of God for children? Why would we take the majesty of corporate worship and juvenilize it with happy clappy kids songs and crafts and little homilies? “Children think church is boring and children’s church makes God exciting.” Does it really? If you substituted Barney for God, the kids would still have the same excitement levels. Frankly, kids think lots of stuff is boring. They are kids. What do they know? Are you really going to allow their childish worldview to shape itself by allowing them to dictate what worship activities are acceptable to them or are you going to patiently teach them about the wonder of worship by making them worship with you?
Sending the kids out right before the sermon
This one really bugs me! So here we are, gathered as God’s people, ready to hear the Word of the living God, prepared to receive the manna from heaven, but before we get to this serious redemptive event, we send the kids OUT so that they can go color or get a “lesson geared for their age.” I am in favor of having times where kids get a lesson geared for their age, but it is not when the Word of God is being preached in the other room! We say that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17. We hopefully believe that preaching is truly a redemptive event. So why would remove our children? Do we think that little of them or that little of God? “Well, they can’t understand the sermons.” Let me say a few things to that objection. We have kept the kids in the whole service for over 15 years now and (1) they understand much more than we give them credit for. (2) The Holy Spirit does supernatural things. If we really removed everyone who was ill-equipped to understand the sermon, most adults would have to leave too! The power is not ultimately in the mind of the listener, it is in the Holy Spirit. (3) Pastors need to be cognizant of their audience. Provide notes for kids and make special application to the kids in the course of the sermon. Believe me they listen. They often understand just as well as any adult and the Holy Spirit can convert a child just as sure as He can convert a middle-aged, college-educated adult.
The way we minister to children often does nothing more than betray our lack of confidence in God’s Word and Spirit and His appointed means. It also often reveals a short-sighted understanding of human nature and the power of God unto salvation.