5 Quick Questions With Jeffrey Reed

Today, I am excited to add a new feature to my blog called “5 Questions.” My heart is to help equip and encourage you by introducing you to the guys and gals that influence and encourage me. To help you get to know them better, I will  be asking them 5 questions about ministry and the Christian life.

Meet Jeffrey Reed

My first guest is Jeffery Reed. I met Jeffrey back in 2o13 at a Life Kids’ Beta Five-Questions-Jeffery-ReedConference. Jeffery has served as a Pastor for over 30 years and has spent about half of that time working with kids. Currently, he works at Lifeway as a “Lifeway Kids’ Ministry partner. In his role, he travels year round. He meets one-one-one with an average of 15 Kid’s Ministry leaders each week. He also regularly interacts with Kids’ Ministry leaders when he speaks at conferences and kids’ events. He and his wife have four kids and currently live in Nashville, TN. To follow Jeffrey on Twitter click here.

5 Questions

1.     Has kids’ ministry changed over last ten years?

“From what I can tell in working with churches all over the country, the pendulum has had two big swings. One probably started in the early 2000’s. Creativity entered Kids’ Ministry in a big way. Now, the norm is to use large-group worship. Most churches have creative or production teams, especially in larger churches. In the 90’s, media was rarely used as a regular resource for churches. Now well-done media is expected. 

The other swing has been back to good Theology. It’s just starting to pick up in churches. Now that churches have learned to use media, they are realizing that it should be a supplement to the content that they use…and that the content should be sound, doctrinally speaking. It’s great when Kids’ Ministry is creative. It’s better when Kids’ Ministry uses good theology.”

2.      What steps can a church take to reach young families?

“Not enough. 

But as a start, every leader of every classroom and group should be prepped and trained to talk to parents when they pick their kids up. The entire church staff should be focused on teaching parents to lead their kids. It’s also important that our goal is not simply to get them to like our church. If we get them to love God, they will like church. There are churches full of families who are dedicated to attending, but don’t know Jesus. We need churches who have families that are walking by faith…and leaders and staffs in those churches who model that.”

3.      What are some ways churches accidentally scare away families? 

“This might sound antithetical, but probably by not offering anything different than a local community center. Young families, especially millennials, (I know this, because my pastor is one) are looking for substance. YMCA’s offer mom’s morning out. The school system’s are teaching kids how to develop character. 4-H has a summer camp. Why do I need church? family

Ultimately, the gospel is what transforms and draws families in. The church should probably do these things in some form, but we often stop short and hold off on the serious stuff in the hope that those families come back. Maybe we wait until Christmas Eve or Easter to share the message of salvation. Many churches are stuck in the seeker mode of the 90’s. Everyone is seeking, even believers. Give everyone what they are looking for, Jesus. Weak or occasional theology scares people.”

4.      What Lifeway Kids products are you most excited about?

“That’s easy. Two things are coming that will have a huge impact. 

The first is our new conference. For the first time, LifeWay will have a family ministry conference called ETCH. etchconference.com The video on the front page says it all. Some of the best communicators and voices in family ministry will be there. It will be a blast. It will be fun. It will equip leaders to reach the next generation.

The second is the re-launch of Bible Studies for Life curriculum. It’s scope and sequence follows one of the most vetted discipleship paths in the history of Kids’ Ministry. Over 15,000 churches currently use this curriculum.”

5.       What books are you currently reading?

“The political climate has moved me to read several books regarding U.S. history. ‘”Forged in Faith“‘, by Rod Gragg, takes a deeper look into the believers who were involved in the early revolution. 

I’m not saying I support the philosophy in the book, but it is intriguing. ‘”Why They Stay“‘ by Parr and Crites looks at something that could very well shake up how we do church for families. It’s hard to argue with facts…and they give some compelling ones about why kids may leave the church when they get older…and it’s not because we didn’t have a light show during worship.”

Don’t Burn The Books

blog dont burn the booksBad Students’ Listen

Although as kid I was a poor student with a well nurtured dislike of reading, I was always captivated by a good story. Some of my best memories consist of sitting on the living room carpet listening to my mom read the Christmas Carol, the Chronicles of Narnia, and many other books. Stories have a way of connecting my soul with the world that the classroom can never achieve. Narrative is powerful!

Giving my 15 plus years of working with kids, I’m increasingly finding that all kids love a good tale. Stories often provide kids with the philosophical glasses that they need to understand the blurry world spinning around them. For a child, the story of God sparing the sinful city of Nineveh or of Jesus raising Lazarus (John 11; Jonah 4 ) from the dead makes much more sense than Romans 8:28. If we simply tell a child, that God works all things for good, they may picture God like an auto worker robotically smelting their lives together on an assembly line or simply go back to daydreaming about Thomas the Tank Engine. But if we connect kids to the story of how Jesus wept and cared for his friend Lazarus even when everyone else assumed the worst, we engage young hearts and help them concretely ascribe translucent thoughts to reality.

The Bible is the Story 

Thankfully when we communicate through stories, we can remain 100% consistent with the Bible because God’s Word is a story, the truest of all stories. Yes, it has several theological letters, poems, and lists of rules, but the thrust of the Bible is centered on one story, the gospel. It starts with creation. It documents the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. And then the book chronicles how God truly redeems his people through Jesus, coming, living, dying, and ascending into heaven. All of the Mosaic Law, the poems, and the Pauline letters are linked back to the story of God redeeming humanity. For the Christian, all theology and philosophy come from the gospel story.

old booksBecause the gospel is a true story through which we view the world (or metanarrative) many parents are scared to let other stories influence their children. If our kids read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the Chronicles of Narnia, they will become pot smoking, tattoo wearing Goths. Ahhh.

Deep breath. Stories don’t ruin our kids. They simply give our kids and avenue for expressing their hearts. If they love Jesus, they are going to find the gospel awe inspiring. If they don’t, they are going to think The Da Vinci Code is oh so true! Banning books, video games, and music will not preserve or ensure a child’s faith. But helping them understand the stories that pop up on their pages and screens in light of the gospel will be universally helpful!

Five Tips For Evaluating A Kid’s Media

When it comes time to analyze the next cool book, movie, game, music single, or T.V. show here are a few helpful things to remember:

1. The Bible trumps all. The Bible claims to be true and based upon real events (Luke 1:1-4; I Peter 1:16-21). It is not a fairytale. Other stories that challenge the Bible by definition cannot be true. We can be confident that the gospel story is always the most truthful and makes the best sense of the world. Don’t fear the Da Vinci Code; examine it and you’ll find that Paul not Dan Brown speaks the truth.
2. Exposure is not always a good thing. Any narrative written, acted, or sung that directly contradicts the word of God by causing a kid to participate in or love sin should be avoided (Eph. 5:3-6). For example, a book that contains pornographic images, or a song that encourages a child punch their enemy should be banned.
3. Make the most of stories with non-Christian worldviews that are not explicitly sinful. If our children read the Giver help them compare the book back to the Bible. Did the book line up with the Biblical story of Jesus? What do the characters hope in? Does the world of book really represent how our world operates?
4. Realize your limitations. Whether it’s the kid next door, or Tom Brady on Sports Center, or their teacher, someone will reach your child with a life story that contradicts the Bible. After all, my older brother and I snuck off to a friend’s house to watch King Kong against our parents’ wishes. Stories that oppose God are easily accessible. But, we can help all of our children place the stories they encounter in the gospel context
5. Embrace a good story. We do not have to be afraid of fiction and storytelling. Christ told many stories during his ministry. We need to be careful to protect our children from the world. But as stated above, stories provide children with tools necessary to grabs deep philosophical and theological terms. If we limit stories, we threaten our kids’ mental and spiritual health