Startling words, but the Bible was not originally written to children. Do we try to explain “War and Peace”, or “Moby Dick” to a child? If you did, how would you do it?
I attended Tim Cleary’s breakout entitled, “Is there a place for imagination in spiritual formation?” As he began to speak, I felt a closer connection to him. He said he was a refugee of the church. That resonated with me because I grew up to not like Sunday School. It didn’t relate to me and I found it boring.
He noted that the one thing everyone has in common is the “story”. We all love to hear a good story, especially if we can relate to it. What I truly enjoyed about the breakout was his passion, speaking form his heart, his experience, not just notes.
He had three main points of focus: faith, hope, and love
Faith is the story. I believe that we can find and share God’s story using anything. Yes, anything. For Tim, what helped him connect to faith was Superman. In my teaching, I strive to use what the children are using, like Minecraft, to share the Gospel. It does not make what you use “Christian”, but we need to share the story of faith where they are, on their level, with things and stories they can relate. We need to translate the cultural narrative with Biblical content.
Hope is innovation. Hope is believing in something to come. Innovation allows you to dream. We need to allow ourselves and our children to dream, to be innovative. Children today are very anxious, and the best way to beat that anxiety is to surround them with their achievements. Think about it, if we do not have reminders of our achievements, then it can lead us to believe that we’ve achieved nothing and are failures.
Love is the encounter. We have love so twisted in today’s culture. When we truly encounter something, then we begin to fully understand it. We need to give children a chance to encounter God, to be a part of the story. Give them opportunities to serve.
Truth is, most children do not read their Bible. I didn’t, and I struggle today unless I have a specific purpose to get me into studying it. That is why I use items that the children in my ministry use to share Christ. People look at me funny when I tell them that I play Minecraft and I bring out my Minecraft toys, but it is all to connect the children with the Gospel.
How do you use today’s cultural narrative to connect children with Biblical content?