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.
great observations, outstanding values, and challenging practices. do you recommend an age to start bringing kids into the main worship service? from everything we’ve been learning from dotw Chirch, my wife & i have been trying to keep our 15month old son in our Church’s main service as much as possible before he “needs” to go to the nursery, but he’s a distraction. it causes us to frequently throw ourselves on the mercy of our Church family to overlook him, & some people have shared that he can’t get anything from the service anyway so we should wait til he’s older before tryin to teach him to be in the main service (& we don’t want to make our Church family miserable). we’ve proclaimed the Gospel to him since he was in the hospital, & regularly at home, but the older he gets the harder it is to keep him in the main service. ya know? got any practical Wisdom for us about this?
For us the main service of worship is the daily household worship time that takes place in each individual household. The Sunday gathering is practice for that main worship time. As such, there is not an age at which we would ever take the children out, no more than we would ever take them out of the main worship time in their household. Since Sunday is practice and accountability, children need to be there as much as everyone else does. Children generally go through several periods of adjustment, and some periods can be awkward. In our view, that is OK, because the greater goal is the household equipped for worship. We have children of all ages in our gathering, and not only the children but also the church grow through the process.
Hope that helps,
Have you seen the confession of sins in our older order of worship? It is basically no difference with kids or in a group . . . only that one might have to be more sensitive to the things being shared and/or the time factor if the group is too big.