Don’t Blow Up Your Kid’s Ministry!

mushroom-cloud-67534_1920Not to scare you but your church might be close to disaster! And here is how it starts:

Someone says, “Bob hasn’t been in church very much;” or,  “Sally has not been real involved lately;” or, “Joe seems really detached over the last few months.”

Then a deacon pipes up, “How about the kids’ ministry!”

That’s right, many well-meaning church members think that the spiritually distant, the theologically misfit, and the untrustworthy Bible thumbers should all serve in the your church’s kids’ ministry. You just stick Bob, Sally, or Joe in that classroom and boom! There goes the church!

Now, at some level, I get it.  Changing diapers is a lot less influential than leading the worship team. When Bob the nursery worker gets peed on a by a screaming baby, he will not attract all that much attention. The baby and Bob maybe briefly traumatized, but church will be ok.

However, Bob the music leader who talks about how God is sometimes the Father and sometimes the Holy Spirit between songs just introduced the church to heresy. From the stage, Bob can all but destroy his local church. I get the power differential.

I understand that we don’t want unproven people leading up front. And, I understand that we need places for men and women to develop their spiritual gifts. I am all for people testing the gifts in their children’s ministry (with lots of supervision of course). I love seeing men and women grow in their teaching and organizational skills. I always want to encourage such growth. I want our kids’ ministry to be a part of our church’s greater discipleship strategy.

But at the same time, I recognize that children are not flowers, chairs, or bulletins. Children are far more valuable and precious than the day-to-day operational tasks of the church. (Matt 19:14; Psalm 127). They are also some of the most vulnerable and susceptible people in our congregation. Children often cannot voice their concerns fully. They struggle to tell us exactly why something sounds wrong. In addition, children will often be too embarrassed to discuss why their teacher made them uncomfortable.  As the people of God, we are charged with protecting our children and keeping them safe. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless (Jer. 7:5-7).

Sticking unproven and backsliding Christians in our nursery goes against the above scriptural mandates. After all, those backsliders may not even by Christians. And if they are unredeemed sinners, they will be prone to neglecting, misleading, and even abusing our children. If we invite struggling Christians to work with our children, we are inviting disaster into our very midst.

While we should want people to prove their calling within the walls of our children’s ministries, we should never want people to prove their character by working with our children. The risk of failure is too great and our children our too important!

Thankfully, God has given the modern church tasks such as setting up chairs, directing traffic, and making coffee expressly for this reason. In my humble opinion, no one needs prove his or her faith via their church’s children’s ministry.

Stand firm!

Is it Time to Hate the Duggars?

duggarsIs it time to hate the Duggars? In recent days, the all American homeschool family of 19 kids has dropped to the level of Honey Boo Boo. The revelation that the oldest Duggar, Josh, molested his sisters and one other girl when he was 14 has left their groupies reeling in disbelief. What do we do now? I suggest we learn.

Being married, I have watched the TLC show on more than one occasion (Please let me keep my man card!).  And, I’ve heard Jim Bob and Michelle say that they want their show to be a medium for teaching others. I.e. they are trying to model what a godly, healthy family should look like. And though I am saddened to watch this tragedy unfold, I don’t think we need to write the Duggars off as hypocrites just yet. We can still learn one more important lesson from Arkansas most famous family.

No Perfect Parent

I once heard that a homeschool, graduation speaker deemed his audience of Bible thumbing guys and denim skirt wearing gals to be above temptation. Because these kids came from such great Christian homes, the seniors couldn’t even be corrupted by devil. Yay them!

Whether we follow after the Duggars, or think that our kids should be evangelists at school, or fall somewhere in the middle, we too can become super confident in our parenting style. Wear this, talk about that, attend this church type, and poof, we’ve created the perfect, godly, well-rounded kid. Yep, we did it. We created the perfected parenting! Yay us!

What a great sentiment! Sadly, it’s not a true one. This is one of the last lesson the Duggars will leave us. We can’t make good kids. I don’t know of a more dedicated couple than Jim Bob and Michelle. Having met them in person and having kept up with them via my living room T.V, I honestly believe they love the Lord. They decided to homeschool their children from biblical convictions. They placed a premium on family devotions. And, Jim Bob barely allowed his engaged kids to side hug. The Duggars did everything in their power to fence off their family from the evils of the world. And still, we found ourselves disturbed by a scandal involving Josh.  Why?

Why Scandals Happen

Kids are defiled from the inside out (Mathew 15:18). To fully keep sin out of our homes, we’d have to boot the kids to the street corner (and then we’d have to join them). Unless God saves and redeems our little ones, even the best parents will see their kids fail, and fail majorly. Even believers can fall into major sin.  Ultimately, evil can creep in and destroy because it lives in the heart of every kid. We must be on guard. And we must realize that only the Holy spirit through the power of Christ can keep our kids from evil.

What We Learned

We can learn much from  the Duggar scandal, as Dr. Russell Moore has pointed out . But I think the most important lesson that we can take from the Duggars today is this: there is no perfect parenting plan. As we watch the authorities and TLC sort through everything, let’s check over our own parenting style. Let’s avoid the temptation to think we’ve arrived. Join me in trying to avoid the thought that, “That could never happen in my family.” Let’s not boast in our ability to parent, presuming we are better than the Duggars (Galatians 6:1). Rather, we must realize that no family, close nit-town or church is immune from being rocked by sexual sin. We should take steps to prevent people from having the opportunity to sin.  And then, we should continually pray for God to spare our families, churches, and communities from evil. Let’s learn from the Duggars while we still have time!

What do you think? Will you keep watching the show if TLC releases a new season?

Being A Family Doesn’t Make Your Kids Safe

family myth blog“We are all family here,” was a common refrain I heard when my church implemented its new check-in system. Since I was the new guy in town, the next comment usually went something like this, “We get that you don’t know anybody, but we do; all this security stuff isn’t really necessary. So, you’re going to stop it once you learn everyone’s name, right?” Not quite. At FBCE, we continue to strengthen our security and safety measures precisely because we do know everyone. And it ain’t good. Look what Paul says about our family, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:12).

We Are All Bad

Although media moguls of Nickelodeon, Oprah, and Disney teach us that people are basically good, the Bible does the opposite. According to scripture, every baby is born a sinner (Ps. 51:5). Every baby is born with a disposition to do evil and to always do evil (Rom. 3:23). When left alone, people naturally make bad, selfish choices that hurt harm others (Gen. 6:5). The Biblical view of humanity teaches us to adopt a healthy skepticism of people’s intentions especially when protecting children.   

We Got Tricked

Now thankfully when it comes to kids at church, many of the sinners who walk through our doors have been transformed by the gospel. But can you tell which men and women love Jesus and which ones want to groom a 12 year-old boy to be their spouse? In time yes, we can spot the frauds.  People will be known by their fruit (Matt. 7:16). Their works, actions, and words will eventually reveal what’s going on in their hearts. But how long will this process take? How long will it take us to spot the false Christians? After all, false Christians were able to fool the disciples and the early church fathers because Jesus allows the weeds to grow right next to the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30). Liars, unrepentant sinners, are in our churches and bent on harm. Are we willing to give them the chance to hurt our kids while we sift through the evidence?

The Sad Reality 

man free blogAnd false Christians continue to successfully infiltrate our Christian circles. Just in my own circle, I can think of two tragic deceptions relating to kids ministry (not to mention the sad stories of pastors, elders, and church members falling into all kinds of sexual and financial sins). First, I played football with kids whose parents seemed to be model Christians. The parents had good jobs, dressed well, and even had regular family devotions with the  large family. But when the Bible was closed and no one was looking, the father sexual abused his children for over twenty years. No one at their church knew or suspected anything. Second, I think back to my youth group days. One of the most faithful small group, and mission trip leaders cheated on his spouse the entire time he served. Lacking tattoos and a scary drug filled past, he dressed, and talked like all the other adults, and, yet harbored a deadly secret sin.  If we are truthful, we have to admit that we don’t know what’s in a person’s heart. As Jeremiah writes

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it (17:9)?

We need to put up hedges around our children to protect them from false Christians intent on harming God’s church.

Yep, We Still Got Problems

And lastly, we need to protect kids from ourselves. Though we are redeemed, we are not perfect; we still sin; we still face all kinds of temptations from the world, our heart, and Satan. Even the apostle Paul lamented, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:18-19).  We need to be skeptical of our own ability to consistently avoid evil and to follow Jesus. If you doubt me, think back to Noah who got drunk, Abraham who slept with a family employee, and David who had an affair with the girl next before killing her husband. These were all great men of God who succumbed to sin. To love our brothers and sisters in Christ and to care for our own souls, we need to keep ourselves out of bad situations. We need to create policies and checks that will prevent even the most mature Christian from having a chance to molest a 5 year-old girl. Nothing is more loving and representative of the people of God than keeping a brother and sister from sin and a child from harm.

Regardless of blood lines and geographical proximity, we don’t know people all that well. And what we do know about them from scriptures, screams, “Don’t trust them. Don’t trust yourself.” We called to treat sinners with skepticism and believers with caution when it comes to caring for kids at church. We live in a world tainted with sin. To pretend that we don’t isn’t loving; it is ridiculously dangerous and may expose our kids to all kinds of horrors.