Can you believe that some churches have created incentives so that children will want to participate in their weekly programs? Evidently in these churches, elementary students are rewarded for things such as regular attendance, bringing their bibles, memorizing scripture, and inviting friends? I mean, really? Aren’t we just creating another generation of entitled consumers? I know of one particular ministry that hands out Kidz Cash for acts similar to those I described above.
Okay, I hope you know me well enough to have picked up on my facetious tone by now. And if you know the church I belong to, you may have rightly guessed that I’m referring to our children’s ministry. Believe it or not, people can actually develop strong opinions about how attractional a ministry should be. I have some opinions on these matters as well. Trust me, I could rant for hours about all the rights and wrongs with the Church (notice the big C). However, today I’d rather just tell you a cool story and let you consider some of these issues on your own.
So what happens when a child catches on to the purpose behind the Kidz Cash? What might happen when the regular attendance and participation starts to mold a young heart? When the “why” behind our spiritual disciplines is expressed and understood, what impact can that have? What happens when a child becomes engaged with a greater vision that looks beyond oneself? Well, I think we might witness something similar to a story I heard last week.
One of the neat parts about being the Family Pastor of Middle School here at NBC is that I am sandwiched between two other ministries. Since many families have children in Wired (our middle school ministry) and Genesis Kidz and / or High School ministries, I get to meet a lot of different people and often hear some of the awesome transformational stories that are going on in the other areas. Last week was one of those occasions. I was able to listen to a story that I think is worth sharing. Here is a quick summary of what I overheard.
While there are many little trinkets and enticingly fun things a child could purchase in our children’s store, one of our GK’s decided to buy something special for a friend. With the Kidz Cash he had been saving for quite a while, he purchased a Bible to give to one of his friends that didn’t already own one. While I have no idea what the current exchange rate is in our Kidz Store, I’m certain that even with minimal inflation, it took some intentional planning and patient saving on the part of this young man. Pretty cool, huh? Honestly, that’s not how I’d spend my hard earned money.
I’m going to guess that this little guy may not be ready to navigate his fellow classmates down the Roman Road to Salvation and he may not always rightly differentiate between King Saul and Saul of Tarsus, yet there are some things that he does obviously understand. It would seem this boy knows that God loves us and tells us so in His word. Because of this fact, there is value and wisdom in the Bible that makes it worth sharing with others. Perhaps by reading the scriptures, they (our friends) too will come to know this big, powerful, loving God as well - the one who sent Jesus to stand in our place – the Savior that teaches us how to love our neighbors and the world around us.
To be clear, if you as an adult are needing a chance to win a Branson Getaway or perhaps a set of steak knives in order to regularly attend church, then I think that’s a different scenario altogether. Just as if you are still riding the coin-operated machines out in front of the grocery store, one is appropriate for children and the other screams “STRANGER DANGER”!! While the beginning of this blog had you thinking about Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple (Mark 11:15-18), I hope you are now reminded of how Jesus says we all must come to Him and receive the kingdom like a child (Mark 10:13-16).
The truth is this: whether we are working as a ministry, as a friend, or as a parent, we’d all do well to explain the purpose (the “why”) behind what we do and examine our own motives. We must also remember that life truly is all about the Benjamins…and Bobs and Sarahs and Lucys and Jacks and Jills and folks young and over-the-hill. You get the point. It’s not all about us, but about making Christ known to the nations for the glory of the Father. And how will people believe in Him whom they have not heard (Romans 10:14)? May we be encouraged to consistently live out and share the faith we profess, acknowledging and repenting of our own judgmental attitudes, and persistently seek the Savior with a heart that is pure and trusting as a child.
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