Why I respect Bill Hybels. Part 1

My friend Mike Servello is on vacation so I thought I would pick up on his blog series "Why I respect Bill Hybels".

I respect Bill Hybles because:

1. His passion for seekers
2. His passion for the local church
3. His passion for spiritual legacy

All of these passions can be seen in the last reason I respect Bill is his passion for children’s ministry. Bill truly understands the importance of children’s ministry. He has always been on the cutting edge of what it takes to reach out to people who are looking for Christ.

I believe that Bill is on the cutting edge of children’s ministry. I attended a children’s ministry conference at willow seven years ago so I am not using quotes because I remember the spirit of what he said not the exact words. Bill said the following: When a new family comes to church. What I (Bill Hybels) do in this sanctuary the words I speak the experience that each parent may have means nothing if their kids did have a good time, weren’t ministered to and never want to come back. What you do (speaking to the children’s pastors gathered ) is the most important thing in the church.

I was floored. I had never heard a statment that strong in support of children’s ministry in my life. At that point I had been a children’s pastor a few years, for me it was a turning point. I remember sitting there crying convicted because I didn’t value children’s minstry like I needed. That day I came to believe without a doubt that children’s ministry is the "the most important ministry in the church". For me that value that prioity will never change, if I am a youth pastor, senior pastor or worship pastor some day, I will always believe and say that children’s ministry is the most important.

John Piper: Educating for Hope

 

I came across this link from fellow blogger David Wakerley. He was referring to John Piper’s body of work. I have read a few of his books and never realized his passion for reaching the next generation. He has some powerful points that convicted me to the core. What am I doing with the time and talent God has loaned to me? Am I doing things that are eternal?   These apply to children’s pastors and youth pastors alike, I would urge you to substitute youth when John says children, if you are a youth pastor. They are principles that apply to both.We have an amazing responsibility to live and preach in such a way that young people will set their hope in God. Life change nothing less. I pulled out 3 points I thought were fantastic; please click on the following link because the article is well worth the read. Educating for Hope by John Piper. 

 

1. That They Might Have the
Knowledge of God
 

First, that they should have knowledge of
God. Verse 6: “That the next generation might know.” I think it is
right to prize love for God above knowledge of God. The devils have knowledge
of God, and tremble! But what a tragedy when we see the demonic pride that
knowledge can bring, and then draw the wrong conclusion that the best way to
inspire love to God is to somehow take a detour around knowledge.

It can’t be done. We love God because of
what we KNOW of him, or our love is artificial emotionalism. The first task in
the education of our children is to impart genuine knowledge of the testimony
and law of God. It need not lead to pride, especially if we do it the way Asaph
did it. So the first aim of education is knowledge.

 

2. That They Might Put Their Hope in
God
 

Second, the aim of education should be that
children come to put their hope in God. Verse 6 goes on to say, “that the
next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell
them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God.”

Knowledge should lead to hope. What goes
into the head should make a new heart. If one person errs in education by
saying knowledge is not the main thing, but the heart is the main thing,
another person errs on the other side by saying that imparting knowledge is our
only goal, not the changing of the heart.

The Word of God is very clear on this:
the aim of education is to teach the truth in such a way that young people will
come to love it and put their hope in God. Changed hearts are the goal of
education, not just more knowledge.
The aim is that they might set their hope in God.

 

3. That They Might Obey 

Third, the aim of education is obedience.
Verse 7 goes on: “so that they should set their hope in God, and not
forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Education has to do
with how our young people act as well as what they know and what they feel. We
have not succeeded in our God-given responsibility if our children’s heads are
full of true thoughts, but their behavior is contrary to the law of God. That’s
why hope is essential, because you always bring your life into sync with
whatever you hope in. “Everyone who thus hopes in Christ purifies himself
even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

So the motto of our children’s ministries at
Bethlehem goes right to the heart of the educational task—”that the next generation might hope in God.”

 

The Importance of Environment!

Disney, McDonalds, and Chuck E. Cheese, what do they all have in common. They understand the power of experience . They understand how to reach kids in a way that that kids understand. In the past 10 years I have seen children’s ministry come a long way. I think that one thing that I have seen is churches are starting to come to the same realization that Matell, McDonalds and Micky Mouse have come to for years. The experience matters.

I have gone to some churches and they have millions of dollars invested in the "adult sanctuary " while at the same time the kids meet in the basement or some "education wing" with sterile walls. I think this is wrong. I think it is the modern day equivalent of the disciples turning kids away from the master. Jesus loves kids. He understood the power of experience. Kids who are touched by the power of God, grow up to be conduits of blessing to the next generation.

My good friend Mike Servello, says that "we want to create a positive experience for kids. To many kids have an either neutral or negative experience with church", that should not be. We can create an experience without an amazing environment . But don’t lie to yourself and think environment doesn’t matter to kids. If you need proof next time you are at Disney, or McAnything start counting board adults that are there for their kids. People love their kids and want them to have what they never had. To experience things they have never experienced.

Mark 10:14 (The Message)

13-16The people
brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples
shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it:
"Don’t push
these children away
. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children
are at the very center of life in the kingdom
. Mark this: Unless you
accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get
in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of
blessing on them.

Chuck E. CHURCH, Should Church be Fun?

Yes and Yes. One thing that drives me crazy is when people think that we shouldn’t have games, contests and activities that kids find fun and or exciting. One blog referred to this as Chuck E. Church. I know what they are referring to, but at one time flannel boards were controversial method of preaching the Gospel. We are not in competition with Chuck E. Cheese, and Disney because we are after two different things, but through the same means. Disney, and Chuck are after the Hearts of kids and Money of the Parents. We are after the Heart and Soul of both. What Disney and Chuck understand that we can learn is that everything they do is about creating an environments to have an experience . We ignore this to our peril and the peril of those we are trying to reach. We need to create an environment that is an experience :

What do kids need to experience ?
1. The Power of the Word
2. An engagement of all their senses
3. True Community
4. The Power of God
5. People modeling true godliness to them
6. Fun, Kids need to have fun

If reaching more kids and more parents means changing the way we do things than we need to change. We so often care more about our methodology than we do about the lostness of those looking for Christ.