Post by Pastor Tim – When we think about proclaiming the gospel, we often don’t examine the “gospel” as much as the methods in which we try to proclaim it. And no where is this seen better than in the modern-day youth ministry. Many youth programs work on having better technology, louder music and cooler surroundings. One blogger noted,
At a mega church I visited a few years back, entering a children’s classroom was like stepping into a Disney World attraction. Classes were decorated around themes like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the Starship Enterprise, with no expense spared.
Our family had a similar experience a few years back, when during a worship service the church gave away a Nintendo Wii by picking a name out of a hat. And we found out that this was just one give-away in a series of amazing bicycle and video game giveaways. Admittedly, my children thought it was pretty cool, but I later asked them what it taught them about God, and after thinking for quite some time they said that it taught them absolutely nothing.
Even though I was glad to hear them say that, I’m afraid that the method itself is not always neutral, and that the gospel which we are working so hard to proclaim is getting lost in another message. And that message is shallowness. David Kinnaman of the Barna group said “that one of the top reasons young Christians leave the church is the shallowness of faith they experience there.”
After Pastor Foley’s last post there should be no disagreement on what the gospel actually is, but how do we effectively proclaim it to our kids? Here are some ways that DOTW Church families are proclaiming the gospel to their kids.
- We are keeping our kids with us in the main service. From time to time our kids do get “antsy” in the service, but I have been amazed at the growth and maturity that our kids have experienced through this process. Admittedly, our kids are not by-standers; they are actively participating in the service through imitation. They learn to pray the same prayers that we pray, sing the same songs that we sing, confess their own sins the same way that we confess our sins, and hear and proclaim the same gospel that we hear and proclaim.
- We proclaim the gospel to our kids every night. We don’t wait until Sunday, and we don’t consider it the job of the Sunday school, but we actually “do church” with our children every night in our home. And they are memorizing scripture, songs and creeds that all have the gospel “front and center.”
- When we reach out to other family members and friends, the children participate with us! They are not just receiving the proclamation of the gospel, but they are actually proclaiming it as well! This also means that the kids are an important process of how we give our tithe in relation to proclaiming the gospel. We are praying together, giving together and proclaiming the gospel together.