What happens when we focus more on character than on relationship with Jesus?
What’s the goal of your children’s ministry? Is it for Johnny to be “good”? Or is it for Johnny to know God? Are the two goals mutually exclusive?
To find out, we asked kids in ministries around the country what it takes to get to heaven. Their answers may shock you:
•to be good
•to be nice
•to study hard
•to accept Jesus as my Savior
What would the kids in your ministry say? Would you be satisfied with their answers? Could their answers be a result of the growing emphasis on “character education” as opposed to “knowing God”?
The Surging Focus on Character
Character education is largely an educational term that’s used daily in public schools. But it’s also something that appears in various forms in children’s ministry. A brief review of available Christian resources-whether new VBS releases, special events programming, or curriculum-reveals a fairly constant offering of tools that boost kids’ moral character and build virtues.
In recent years, churches have increasingly emphasized their focus on character-building as a way to hook parents and kids outside the church-and it’s proven effective. What parent doesn’t want his or her child to learn to be a better person?
But is it possible to place too much emphasis on building positive character traits when our goal is really to help kids know God? This is a burning question children’s ministers, curriculum writers, and experts grapple with. So Children’s Ministry Magazine took these questions to some of the leading thinkers in children’s ministry, Christian education, and child development. What we found is surprising-and may change how you view your ministry.