Childsize Apologetics: A New Approach

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Transformation Over Information

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Transformation is a church buzzword. We want lives to be
transformed. We look to the Holy Spirit to do the work of
transformation in the children and families in our communities. We
read books about transforming children. Yet, when you take a look
at most of the children’s ministry curriculum out there, it’s about
educational objectives: What information do you need to get into
children? Where are the transformational goals? True, some
curriculum is beginning to focus on life-change goals, but even
those see knowledge as the catalyst to life change. From this
perspective, information is the foundation for faith.

However, such a view runs contrary to the
very verses we use to convince people of the importance of our
children’s ministries: “Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless
you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will
never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.’ ” (Matthew 18:3). “I tell you the truth, anyone
who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never
enter it.” (Mark 10:15).

What happened? When did we place a higher value on knowledge over
faith and transformation? Don and Barbara Ratcliff put it this way
in their book, ChildFaith (Stock Publishers), “We’re
impressed that God doesn’t want our children to be prepared for a
test but rather for a relationship. Yet sometimes parents teach
their children about God, spirituality, or faith as if they must
pass an exam. Too often the church has taught children Bible
trivia, or worse, merely tried to entertain them but has neglected
the important place of the spiritual and the relational.”

Am I suggesting that we stop teaching biblical content to children?
Of course not. I’m suggesting that we put a higher priority on
transformation. That can seem like a scary thing for us as
children’s ministers because we aren’t the ones in control of life
transformation; the Holy Spirit is. We have to trust that the Holy
Spirit loves the children in our ministries more than we do.

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So how do we begin putting transformational goals above
informational goals? Here’s a starting point from the Ratcliffs:
“Affirm [children's] comments, even if part of what they say lacks
theological sophistication. Mistaken theology can be corrected
later; the important thing is that the child understands that it’s
wonderful for them to have had a meaningful spiritual encounter
with God, nature, or people.”

     

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