When Kids Don’t Like Kids’ Ministry

kidsWords can be painful. The words that solidify the rejection of your ministry can be particularly piercing. I do not enjoying hearing kids, parents, and grandparents condemning my ministry as irrelevant, dull or worst of all…. boring. My heart does not rejoice when a kid walks in our church doors and then spins around to walk out a moment later declaring that, “I don’t like your church”

But as painful as those words and sentiments can be, they are necessary consequence of the gospel. When children walk into our churches, most of them have a worship problem. I am do not mean that the like the wrong type of worship music. I am not against baby rappers or baby washboard players. They do not have a Sunday morning worship problem or a Wednesday not issue. They have a heart worship problem. The little souls that come to our churches arrive fully in love with themselves and the world. They come wanting us, our programs, and our whole church structure to make much of them.

I John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

This is the condition of our kids. They are unregenerate little people who worship things other than God.

Consequently, they do not want to be reminded of their sin, of their need for a savior, and of their insignificance. They want fun children’s church programs that continue on until they are finished with college. They want to be entertained with great music and pool noodles. They want to leave having been made much of. If we give them a program centered around their desires, they will thank us and praise us.

But we will have not done our kids a favor. We will have harmed them. Instead of using Sunday to help our kids grasp the majesty and wonder of God and their insignificance, we have used Sunday to feed their fleshly desires. We have used Sunday to hide them from the truth that life is all about obeying and following God.

The point of worship on Sunday is not to make much of us. We gather together to make much of God. We should not pick songs and compose messages that reflect our kids. We need to pick songs that reflect who God is and what God has said. As one theologian said,

Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves against the majesty of God.”

Our goal should be to get kids to God through talking about who Jesus is. When we do so, we will not always be loved. Once a child rated our Sunday school program with the following remark, “I hate it here.” His one star review is not alone. We lost another child because a ministry across town had better snacks. And, another child will not even darken our doors because we encourage kids to attend boring big church.

At the end of the day, these kids do not have problem with our church. They have a worship problem. When they realize that the church will not funnel kindling onto their fire of their self-centered alter, they stay away. Those who worship themselves and the world cannot worship God at the same time.

How Should We Respond?

We keep preaching the gospel. We keep pointing kids to Christ. If Christ changes their hearts, those little souls will love those who make of God. They will love the things of God. And the best and only way to facilitate heart change in little sinners is to preach the gospel.

Second, we need to listen. We need to hear their story. In the story above, the little man hated Sunday school because he did not like listening to Bible stories. He disliked the very gospel that we are commanded to preach. His rejection was confirmation that his teacher was preaching truth.

Others may dislike our programs because another kid is picking on them when no one is looking. They may find our church boring because our teachers our unprepared. If these things are happening, we need to address them. We need to be certain that we have not offended them.

But if the gospel offends them, there is little we can do. Our allegiance is not to the kids that come to our church nor to their families. Our allegiance is to Christ. Our savior is a stumbling block and an unlikable conundrum to those who are perishing. Unregenerate kids our no different than unregenerate adults. They do not like the gospel.

While we should not welcome such opposition, we must realize it will come. And we must be willing to offend the sensibilities of these little souls for their eternity hangs in the balance. We must preach Jesus both in season and out of season. Are you ready?

We All Need’m: Rules For the Good Kids

Good kids blog post“Have you met my kids? My 8 year-old is training for a marathon, my 5th grader just open their second lemonade franchise, and the baby has been driving the family four-wheelers since she was 3. (Just wait to you meet some of the homeschool families at our church.) You really don’t think my kids can be trusted to walk the twenty yards from their Sunday school class room to the sanctuary?”

Ok, so maybe the above is a little bit of a stretch, but parents with responsible kids legitimately wonder why their kids have to follow the rules their church adopted to keep those water balloon throwing hooligans under control. The answer is simple. We live in a fallen world. Below our three reasons all kids need to be protected

Good Kids Make Bad Choices

We have to need rules because even the most responsible kids sin. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our churches need rules in-part to keep godly men and women from temptation. In the same manner, we create rules that prevent kids from being unnecessarily tempted. Now, I am not talking about getting rid of game time or of throwing away the crayons because kids fight. If anything those fights provide our adults leaders with an opportunity to preach the gospel. One kid’s sin does not necessitate we change our kids program. But, we should actively seek to curb temptations that place our kid’s lives in danger. And though only a few kids would ever think of secretly escaping to McDonalds after Sunday school, some do; even some of the “good” kids have these thoughts.

True story: several  years ago, a usually compliant 8 year-old gal with a kind disposition asked to go the restroom. As usual, she was granted permission to make to short walk from the gym to the lobby.  About 15 minutes later, she was caught happily waltzing back into church with a newly minted soda in hand. Turns out, she had skipped the restrooms all together. Instead, she walked past the tree line and into our local Walmart to purchase her caffeine fix for the day.

Ultimately, neither you nor I can fully know what’s in our kid’s hearts or what they are capable of doing (even while at church). And as I learned from the Walmart run, no kid is above making really bad choices. The church that loves kids establishes rules prevent kids from being reckless.

No Kid Is Out Of Evil’s Reach

Second, we need check-in and check-out guidelines because others are watching. Kidnappers can and do target churches. A kid can be swept up in an instant. Even the “responsible” kid who never varies from her parents’ directions could quickly be snatched away by someone with evil intent if left unattended. And if we let a kid wonder off by himself, we are inviting trouble upon trouble. He could be kidnapped (not to mention getting hit by a car) before we snap our fingers. Because we have no clue where said kid is, we will be slow to access and respond to the situation. By only allowing kids to leave a classroom with a parent, our churches greatly discourage predators (don’t forget ex-spouses) from gaining access to our kids. It’s very hard to snatch or hurt a child who is under constant observation. Churches establish rules not because of your kid, but because of those who could harm  your kid.

Favoritism Impedes The Gospel

Lastly, we want to avoid the appearance of playing favorites. If we allow certain kids to break the rules, we will give the appearance of playing favorites (And it’s quite possible that we are showing favoritism). In today’s racially and socially charged world, we don’t want to do anything that would cause a visitor to think we value wealth or certain races more than others. “Oh the white kid hoping into the BMW got to leave early, but you want me to so my ID card?”

But even more important than today’s social climate is the scriptural mandate to avoid favoritism.

Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.  But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:8-9).

As Christians, we must put forth every effort to love all equally. The pastors’ kids who know their church’s campus backwards and forwards should be held to the same standard as the most lost visitor. To be loving churches, we have to diligently protect every child without exception.

Helping Kids Use Technology At Church

Church blog technologyThe rapid growth of technology is leaving no cultural stone unturned including our families and kid’s ministries. When asked to look up a verse, kids today can quickly pull out a Kindle Fire, IPad, or smartphone. Middle schoolers are taking selfies on hayrides, grade schoolers want pictures of the slimy goo game to be posted on Facebook, and preschoolers are navigating smart phones with more comfort than their parents. Technology has reached the little people. As church leaders, Sunday school teachers, and parents, we must decide how to handle this increasing influx of gismos. Below are five principles that will help us determine when to allow kids to use that:

  1. Remember technology is not inherently bad or good. Smart phones, tablets, and social media are all avenues of Instagram inconcommunication. And our God is all about communication. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Our concern is the content streaming through the technology. IPads can be a sinful distraction when our kids are posting selfies or playing Hay Day during the middle of a sermon. But, smartphones can also be a huge blessing when our kids use them to access scripture or to skype with a missionary a thousand miles away.
  2. Don’t be afraid of what we don’t know. We all naturally drift to what we know and like, becoming products of our age or decade. Having crossed the 30 year threshold, I too am quickly calcifying. As I drive around, I’m increasingly playing the “Cool Kids” radio. Translation: I am no longer cool or in touch. But I don’t have to be scared of every new app or tablet. Even if I don’t fully understand the technology, I can still discern the content being used and its timing by asking thoughtful and non-accusing questions. I need to fight the sinful urge to judge that which is different from me. After all the church is not about our preferences. The church is God’s and is all about our Lord. Even when dealing with technology, we must fight against the desire to place our comfort above God’s glory.
  3. Ask questions. Ask your kids to explain how such and such works. Ask them why they use it, and ask them to tell you who they are communicating with. Once we know what content is being accessed at what time, and for what purpose, we will be able to guide your kids in their use of technology. “No, Johnny you don’t need to Snapchat because you are selfishly disrupting the class to brag about how you destroyed your Twinkie.” “That’s great Susan, I had no idea you could highlight and save the verses we looked up today on your IPhone.”
  4. Welcome good technology. God has used the printing press, radio, and the internet to spread his kingdom. It’s quite Square-Facebook-Profile-Picpossible the next newfangled device our kid is using will further expand the kingdom of God. By embracing technology, we avoid offending kids (Telling kids to, “Put down your smart phone and read from the KJV” will cause them to be frustrated) and from making our immensely creative God appear to be dull and boring. God’s not opposed to new technology and the advance of science. And, we shouldn’t be either.
  5. Place a premium on the Bible. Regardless of what our kids use on Sunday morning, I believe it’s important for us to use a good paper translation of the Bible when teaching. By touching the Bible pages, we clearly show our kids that the Bible is real and that the words we are speaking carry an authority far greater than Facebook.

I’m curious to hear how your church and/or class handle kids using technology. What is working for you? What has been problematic?