Over the last few years, there have been hundreds of toy recalls. Some have been poor design, but many are due to toxic materials. As a parent, I shudder to think of my little ones playing (and chewing) on toys covered in lead paint.
Every church that loves children has been equally careful to remove these toxic toys. Having a physically safe environment must be a priority for your church.
In the same way, we need to watch out for spiritually toxic practices in our ministry. These may be easy to overlook, even more so with all the practical concerns at your church. But the danger is real and toxic children’s ministry can cause long term damage and harm spiritual development.
Even as I am writing this, I can think of changes I need to make at our church. I want to encourage you to do the same. As you read, write down some action steps to help improve your own children’s ministry.
3 Toxic Mistakes Our Kids Ministry Must Avoid
1. Mistaking Bible knowledge for heart change.
Our generation is sadly lacking in biblical literacy and we must strive to be more effective in our teaching. At the same time, we must realize we are limited. The real spiritual battle is not about information. You can be sure that Satan does not worry when kids memorize the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. Our ministry must aim for heart transformation. Educators like to call this attitudinal learning or the affective domain. Too much Bible information without real heart change is toxic for a child’s soul.
2. Shrinking from the Gospel story.
The heart of Christianity is the historical events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. These real world events (AD 30-33), forever changed the destiny of humankind. The Kingdom of God has invaded this world, and requires every person to make a choice. Without knowing this foundation, our religion becomes a sentimental way to build self-esteem. Too many kids take Jesus as their make-believe-friend with zero knowledge of the Gospel story – or who he really is. Shrinking from the Gospel story is spiritually toxic for any children’s ministry.
3. Assuming families don’t need help.
With all the talk about family discipleship, few churches actually follow-up to make sure it’s happening. This is understandable. It can be hard to discover the private spiritual health of someone’s home. It takes some boldness to hold parents accountable. If God commands parents to train their children in the faith, then Christian love requires us to get involved. Ignoring the needs of families is toxic to their spiritual health.
What would you suggest to correct these mistakes? What changes are you going to make in your own ministry? Please leave your ideas in the comment box below.