Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Of Vegetables and Bible Stories

How detrimental is it that we have tried to make the Bible interesting to children? Is it a problem that we have stopped teaching kids the Bible, and have started to turn these stories into simplified, flashy morality lessons? See what Missions Misunderstood has to say. He has a pretty good point.

Back in the day, we taught the stories as just that… stories. Maybe that was all a child needed at that point in their spiritual and cognizant development. Let the implications and the theology come later when the kid can really get that stuff. After all, the Bible is primarily about God reconciling the world to Himself, not about a list of concise rule by which to live a good life. It was easy to tell the difference between Noah and Santa Claus, Paul was nothing like Grover.

It is a bit of a stretch to claim that a child can’t tell the difference between make-believe and reality. However, when we have begun to tell the histories of the Bible (with quite a few liberties in the facts) using cucumbers and tomatoes, for example—maybe kids these days are having a harder time remembering that the Bible is a real record of historical events.

While we are at it, is it really helpful to reduce the Gospel message of books like the Epistle to the Romans down to a simple concept like “A, B, C?” Don’t misunderstand. Children are capable of understanding enough to be saved since salvation does not require special knowledge. However, perhaps we should trust that a child can trust in a childlike fashion and that their faith will grow with understanding instead of completely dumbing down the message of the cross to an acrostic.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention. When I was a kid we would occasionally visit a nearby megachurch that had a huge Sesame Street-type set in their children's ministry auditorium (yeah, they had a children's ministry auditorium- not to be confused with the children's ministry gymnasium.)

    Each Sunday, they would put on an hour-long show, complete with puppets, animations, and sing-along songs. It was Captain Kangaroo for Jesus.

    I sometimes wonder how many of those kids have grown up to believe that the Bible "stories" they heard each week are fairy tales.

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  2. This is something I am going through with our church at the moment. I've always had an issue with presenting the "classic" stories as just that - stories.

    Several thoughts/discussion points off the top of my head:
    - the Holy Spirit works in a child in listening and understanding just as much as in an adult
    - would a sermon preached to a congregation of kids be different to a that preached to a congregation of adults - well it these days it would, but should it I guess is the real question, and if so in what ways.
    - we often tailor a particular service or sermon, targeting it at a particular audience, is this right? Should this exclude/not exclude others not in that audience?

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  3. Thanks, guys. I guess I should say I am a little conflicted on this issue. In principle I am not against using creativity and imagination with children. I also believe that a young child can be saved. (I would have to as I was 5 at the time I began this journey.) I tend to favor keeping a clear distinction between made up stories and the salvation history that we have in Scripture. Full disclosure requires that I mention that I own and enjoy several Veggie Tales titles. I think my children benefit from a lot of discussion, clarification and teaching in our home. We don't leave our childrens' spiritual education up to the church. That is probably where most of today's problems begin. How many homes are teaching their kids the Bible?

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  4. " We don't leave our childrens' spiritual education up to the church. That is probably where most of today's problems begin. How many homes are teaching their kids the Bible?" - amen to that brother!! Probably one of my biggest issues with people relating to this issue.

    Having said that of course, it doesn't preclude the church trying to do the right thing either.

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