When I started as a children’s pastor parents would often come up to me and beg me to decry the evils of Pokémon and Harry Potter. I remember when the reality of how overwhelming keeping up with all the things that try to distract and displace the affections of a kid is exhausting. I quickly realized that my job as a children’s pastor is not to address every evil but to use the small window of time I have to paint a picture of Jesus that is so attractive everything else pales in comparison.
In our Christian culture we so easily get this wrong we expend all of our energy in listing out for our kids what shows, books, music are so evil that we never get to the part where we describe the attractiveness of Christ to our kids. Our job as parents and leaders is to protect our children from harm and from the evil that clearly exists but above and beyond that our primary job is make Gospel attractive to our kids.
I grew up in a church culture that was very much about rules, do’s and don’ts, and gave way to much credit to our enemy. I remember asking about witches and wigi boards growing up and received detailed warning of the power and evil behind them and if I didn’t avoid them the dire consequences that would follow. When we do that we give way to much credit to our adversary. Lucky for me I had parents that demonstrated to me what the gospel is all about. Is it wrong to tell kids the evil of messing with thing they shouldn’t? Absolutely not. What we have to constantly be aware of when talking to our kids is that we point them to Christ that we focus on what is true. The more our kids see God’s power in our answers and in our lives the more attractive the Gospel becomes to them.
How do you focus on what is true? Spend time with your kids and ask them questions. When your kids are watching TV ask them about the choices people in the cartoon are making and how those things line up with the truth in Gods word. As you go through the bible and read the bible to them at night ask them questions from the bible. In doing so you will teach them how to ask questions about the bible and where to find the answers.
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
One of the things that always sticks with me is all these years later is that all those parents who wanted me to preach on the evils of Harry Potter focused so hard on those things they never handed to their children the love of the truth. The sad fact is that most of those kids never experienced the power of the Gospel and almost all of them graduated from High School and walked away from the church. The first tool you need to have spiritual conversations is a love for the truth and a love for the word. Spiritual conversations start with us as parents and leaders. We need to initiate them and when we do we need to be armed with the truth of God’s word. I love what Doug Fields says “If your kids are not asking questions about the bible they aren’t reading it.” I would go a step further and say if you are not talking with your kids about the bible you are probably not reading it. If you want kids who hate evil you need to teach your kids to love and recognize truth.