Disney’s Got Nothing on God!
Growing up I hated going “to church.” It was so boring! There were flannel boards in the good classes and binders with pages and pages of facts to memorize in the most boring of all. If we were lucky, the teacher pulled out a book to read but even that left us kids yawning and looking around the room. I longed to visit my friends congregations where they played games to learn about God’s word and build friendships. As I grew up and had kids of my own I took on the role of Children’s Ministry Coordinator at my local congregation. I watched a few kids each week stumble into class, rarely the same two or three each week. Did you catch that? Two or three kids in a class! I watched some teachers with great big hearts try to get kids excited, but just did not know how. Others were worn out. Now, there were also some that had a plan that worked, but it could be better. I decided then to make a difference. I was determined to find a way to make learning about God exciting to children so they would look forward to returning time and again.
Ever notice when a big new movie comes out that kids flock to they beg to go to the theater? Not only that, they beg to bring their friends. Then, when it finally comes out On Demand, they cannot wait to watch it again. They watch it so many times they can recite every line in perfect character. Now imagine taking a story like Queen Athaliah killing her own grandchildren for power and telling it like Disney would? Or perhaps the incredibly fat king who was stabbed in the gut, he was so fat they did not see the knife. And then there’s Rahab who hid the Israelite spies sending the kings men the wrong direction in order to protect God’s people. Paul was shipwrecked. Jonah was swallowed by a huge fish. The list goes on and on. These stories are incredibly exciting and eventful with powerful messages. We simply need to find a way to open the eyes and minds of our children to see this exciting story unfold.
We aren’t Disney, but you’ve got to admit Disney knows what it’s doing. As church teachers, we need to take a page right out of Disney’s book with the absolute greatest material ever written! The bible is far from boring, so why do our kids dread going to bible class? How do we manage to turn God’s word into a snoozefest week to week? And if our children do not want to be in bible class what are the chances they are learning something, better yet, retaining? No so good. And to top it off, if we are not reaching our kids young we are not inspiring them to grow in a deep, meaningful relationship with their Heavenly Father. So what does Disney have that we need? Yes, they have amazing animations, but that’s not it. They know how to tell a story and bring it to life. They know how to promote it. What? Promotion? Can we really promote God? Of course we can! What do you think the 12 apostles did? They traveled around the globe telling people all about Jesus and eternal life.
What else do draws kids to something? FUN! Studies have actually proven that kids learn and retain more when they are having fun. Knowing this, we should make sure there is fun in everything we teach our kids that we truly want them to hear and remember. We may not be in the business of entertainment but we can still make learning fun. This takes work, but thankfully, I have got plenty of ideas for you! And understanding how to incorporate all three major learning styles into this fun learning time makes this style of teaching even more effective.
My goal is to change the way kids see church and God. Our church is our support, our extended family, our encouragement and so much more. Our God is definitely NOT boring. By changing the way we present God in bible class, kids learn who God is, they develop a love for God and have a desire to share Him with friends. Learning the value of church family and a firm foundation in our knowledge of God from a young age ingrains a faith that cannot be shaken. As our children grow up and are ready to leave home, if we’ve done our jobs well, they will also follow Christ and find their identities in Him. Let’s work together, teachers and parents, teaching our kids to know God, love God and share God.