Do You Use Veggie Tales In Church?

I have been one of Big Idea‘s best customers. Until recently, we bought every video. (Even the weird Space Penguins.) We have about a half dozen Veggie Tales toys. We have two Veggie Tale video games and a couple of books. We even have five Veggie Tale CD’s. The videos are funny, thought provoking and very creative. We like the characters, the music and the concept. In many ways Veggie Tales is the best of its class.

However, I have some concerns. The following criticisms take into account the genre of Veggie Tales. I have read their mission statement and understand they do not claim to be evangelical. But, there is a widespread assumption that these are “Christian” videos. They market their products as, “Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun.” They use the Bible and conclude each episode with the declaration, “God made you special and he loves you very much.” Therefore, Big Idea is accountable to children, parents, churches and ultimately God for the content of their material. My purpose is to address some weaknesses in that material and urge parents not settle for only family values.

  1. Teaching morals with little reference to God himself causes confusion. This is an issue pervasive in our culture. As Christians our ultimate value is God himself. All subsequent values must be derived from His character and Word. Children must be taught the infinite worth of God himself as the center of all ethical values. “Right” and “Wrong” are meaningless categories without a God-centered view of life.
  2. Using the Bible only to teach moral lessons neglects the essential purpose of the Bible. Christians have always understood the Bible as God’s special revelation of his character and will. He is the central character of the Bible. Neglecting this reduces the Bible to a collection of inspirational life lessons.
  3. The goals of Big Idea do not account for humanity’s essential problem of sin. Their website states, “The irresponsible use of popular media (TV, film, music, etc.) has had a profoundly negative impact on America’s moral and spiritual health . . . The best way to improve people’s lives is to promote biblical values and encourage spiritual growth.” While it is true that irresponsible media has had a negative impact, the real problem of humankind is much deeper. We are separated from God by our sin. The whole of the humanity has fought against his all-good, all-wise, all-loving headship over creation. The way to improve people’s lives is to help them to be reconciled them to God, through Jesus Christ. When God’s grace changes people, He reorders their values and He causes spiritual growth. Better media is not the answer.
  4. Jesus is seldom mentioned in Veggie Tales. The only exceptions I know of are their Christmas and Easter videos. To be fair, Big Idea does not claim to be evangelical. We are told God loves us but not told how he loves us.

These faults are easily overcome by parental guidance. It is not a DVD’s job to lead your little ones to Christ. It is not my goal to attack Big Idea, it may be only another fad. I want parents to evaluate all family media, children’s ministry and parenting advice according to a Biblical, Christ-exalting worldview.

As for my family, we will continue to buy from Big Idea. I said above that Veggie Tales is the best of its class. I would put it in the category of family appropriate entertainment. But as with similar media brands, we help our children to think like Christians. So we will enjoy the Veggies as cartoons but not for the spiritual growth of my kids, family values are not enough.

What do you think? Do you Veggie?


Comments

  1. says

    We have too! Raised 3 kids without the box.
    All of them are serving God today. I am convince that this was a contributing factor. They are grown up now raising their own families & have chosen not to have a TV in their home. I like the original article “the ultimate value is God himself “

  2. Kristen M says

    Veggie Tales original creator was a christian whose theme was to create Christian videos of bible stories and morals to christian children. However, He went bankrupt and had to sell out the new owners aren’t christian. It always amazes me though when Christians can get so super spiritual! Their kids if you don’t present the bible to them in and entertaining way hello sometimes it can go over their head. Why do we have to make the word of God seem dull and boring it’s ok to make it into a cartoon so the kids can see that God’s word is fun!!

  3. Greg Wood says

    It is amazing that Jesus told so many stories without mentioning God. It was implied in a lot of his stories, but no where in the Good Samaritan, prodigal son, parable of the soil/seed, etc. did Jesus specifically mention God.

  4. Lisa Gould says

    I would just like to let you know that the Veggie Tale Brand was taken over. The folks that first created it have been run out, and the ones that took over….. Well lets just say they are not realy keeping up with the original thought of teaching the “Good Word of God” to our youth. You have to agree that the orginal videos are very much whole some bible teaching, in a way that children can understand. “Dave and the Giant Pickle”, “Esther the Girl who became Queen”, & “God Made You Special” just to name a few. Basicly anything made before they started making dvds. You have to be sure to read them the bible verses to, so they can compare it to the video. After all they do add things that are not true to bible times; like slushes falling on Joshua’s head. Yes it is sad that the original perpose is not being carried out, but really how can we fight it. All we can do is continue to sensore the things we let our children watch, and not fall into the trap just because it has the Veggie Tale logo.

  5. says

    I don’t think Veggie Tales is awful, but I definitely have had to say to kids I teach at church, time and time again, that “Veggie Tales is a fun way of telling the story, but THIS” (holding up Bible and resisting the urge to thump it) “is the REAL story. This is God’s Word and we know that this is 100% true.”

    Also, the kids who don’t come from Christian families are clueless while the “church” kids are making VT jokes and I end up feeling bad for those outside of the “clique”.

  6. Josh Trommer says

    Tony,
    I agree. Veggie Tales isn’t a Gospel presentation but it’s a step in the right direction.
    God Bless,
    Josh Trommer

  7. says

    Doug – I see your point. Our culture is very entertainment-driven. The number of hours kids watch TV is staggering. Any media of this kind can go too far.

    Stacy – You are right on when you talk about parents. I do meet a lot of kids who only know the story via Veggies. So I have to correct some wrong details. But parents who really teach the Bible should not be afraid.

    And Lord of the Beans was the best.

    Steve – great point. I was thinking about this last night.

    Josh – The Veggies on NBC was a good step for Christian media, but it was not Gospel. Veggie Tales, for all their moral fiber, lack Gospel savor. But maybe this gets Bible man one step closer?

  8. Josh Trommer says

    Here’s my option on this issue:
    I think that Veggie Tales is a great outlet for non-Christian kids to have a taste of Christianity. It was a great idea that Big Idea made to have the Veggie Tales movies on TV. Yet they don’t incorporate the Bible Verse and Application at the end, it’s still worthwhile for kids to see.
    I like that the Gospel is not forced hard on the kids. If the Gospel was forced hard in these videos do you think the kids would watch them? Probably not.
    I also like that Big Idea has movie parties for churches to host using the Veggie Tales movies. Then kids can bring their friends to this event and the church can go into detail more about the Bible Story or Moral and the Salvation Message.
    Veggie Tales is a great tool to use to incorporate Christian values into kids lives today.
    God Bless,
    Josh Trommer

  9. Steve Haines says

    Just a thought spoken quietly: Why put up with TV at all? Toss it, and enjoy family life. There’s no need for TV, and much to be gained in its absence. We got rid of ours some 17 years ago, and raised two wonderful daughters without TV or videos. At least consider getting rid of the box as a viable option . . . others have, and you can as well.
    — a missionary in Paraguay

  10. Stacy Butler says

    Do we Veggie? Absolutely, positively. :D

    We love Bob, Larry and the whole goofy gang of Veggies.

    TV by itself isn’t sinful. How we use it might be. Most of what you can get on it via traditional broadcast television is pretty poor. Even if you can find decent content, you have commercials to deal with. Have you seen what type of commercials support sporting events?! For that reason we don’t watch broadcast TV. On principle we won’t pay for “pay TV.”

    What does that leave us? Veggies, first and foremost. They bravely paved the way for Hermie and Friends, Life at the Pond and Boz.

    Kids like characters. Kids like tie-ins. Moms and Dads like happy kids. I for one thrill when my little parrots copy the words and songs of Bob and Larry.

    So when it comes to picking out the movie-of-the-day, we will warmly encourage them to select Bob and Larry! They are special and I know it!

    My kids know the real Bible stories and the silly stories. If Bob and Larry were your ONLY means of hearing about Jesus, that’d be a shame, but Praise God \o/ that isn’t the case here.

    One question I have for the people who don’t care for VeggieTales, is “what about their non-Bible stories?” Lord of the Beans, Madame Blueberry, and others are not retold Bible stories. They are stories that teach moral lessons and include scriptural support for their scripts. Sounds like my real life!! I teach my kids through their lives and show them where the Bible taught ME, and I pass it on to them.

    It almost seems like Veggies can’t win. :(

  11. says

    Tony,
    Thanks for writing this. I respect where you’re coming from, and perhaps this is an area where liberty and charity come in… I still retain my concerns and am still not interested in going this route with my family, but where you’re not just using veggietales as a substitute for substantive teaching and are actually proactive in helping your children understand the Bible and the gospel, I can see what you’re saying. It just bothers me to see Bible stories made into entertainment. Now if you’re doing Robin Hood or something like that, no problem. Thanks for writing, and for your ministry.

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