I got involved in this interesting conversation with a few children’s pastors online the other day and the topic of children’s ministry being Americentric came up. Basically why are there not more voices and resources coming from other parts of the globe.
There were a few theories that were tossed around many of them being about American Imperialism – I personally don’t understand how you can Imperialize culture? No one is putting a gun to the head of some kid in Korea saying wear these Nikes or else.
The answer lies more in what we are not doing rather than what we are doing. I believe there are a few reasons why do don’t hear from kids pastors from other countries as much as we should or as much as we need to.
1. Language – The language barrier is real and if you don’t speak english that is hard to overcome. I have met some amazing people in other countries doing some amazing thing the said truth is they have lots to teach us but we may never learn from what God has done and is doing in them because we don’t speak the same Language. We need to figure out how to solve this one.
2. The North American model of church – Another reason why there are more dominate voices in North America is because our model of church includes hiring fulltime multiple pastors for each church. In other countries from what I have read and seen the model is more volunteer driven. When your fulltime job is pastor you generally have more time to focus and specialize in ministry. When you are a volunteer between, work, family, church and personal pursuits few people who are volunteers spend that time networking and connecting with other kids people.
3. Lastly and most importantly – We focus much of our time on things that are not the most imporant thing. Most of the conversation is around activities, VBS, Camp, Check-in those are all great conversations to have but they remain very Americentric in my opinion. Unless they first come out of the conversation how can we effectively communicate the gospel to kids. I believe that if kidmin is Americentric it is because we are not focusing on the gospel enough. The gospel transformative it transcends culture. If you teach kids in the US or in Cambodia the one thing they have in common is they are all sinners in need of a savior. We need to talk about the gospel and how we connect that to our kids more than we talk about which VBS curriculum we are doing this summer. The more Christocentric we become the less Americentric we will be.