One of the things I have talked about many times on my blog is how I get frustrated by content that is produced that everyone will like. I believe that often times in trying to produce something everyone will like and everyone will buy you rob the gospel of it’s essence and it’s power. One of the things that bothers me about much of curriculum for children is that we simplify the message of the gospel. We teach our kids that Jesus is pleased by our behavior and that we need to do this and not that. In our attempt for simplicity we end up teaching a very “moral” gospel. Should our kids be moral? Emphatically yes! How we teach mortality makes all the difference. I strongly believe we need to teach our kids virtues but those virtues need to be taught through the cross not something that leads to the cross. If you want to be a Christian you must be loving, sounds good but it is misleading We are hopeless without the love God showed us in Christ, we can love only because He first loved us. We are able to live a life of virtue because of who Jesus is and what he has done not out of some sort of trying to be good enough to earn his favor to earn his love.
It is so important that we constantly look to Christ for strength to live a life that pleases him because we are grateful for a life of forgiveness through Christ and what he did for us on Calvary. I am always on the lookout for curriculum that makes much of Jesus. That proclaims what he did that constantly points my kids back to someone much greater than them. I am always looking for curriculum that makes the hero of every story Jesus not me, not david, not daniel but the God who empowers each of us through His sacrificial example.
Enter the Rizers. My team and I were able to partner with the rizers to create a VBS that truly makes much of Jesus. I tested it in a couple churches last summer and am more than thrilled to be able to share it with all of you. I know that many people are starting to make plans for VBS right now. Do yourself and your church a favor take your kids on the Tour of a lifetime. They will be changed not by cleaver games or funny skits but by the greatest message of the greatest God man that ever lived. I love that each story is saturated with Jesus. I love that each lesson brings kids and your team to a place of worship and wonder that we desperately need.
I am not going to Orange this year I have gone for the past 3 years as a blogger had a blast and met loads of great kidmin and Student ministry people. I thought that I would do a blog post or two about Orange even though I am not there. I thought I would do a blog post for those of you who stay away from the Orange movement due to a huge obstacle for many of you…..virtues.
At our church we have used 252basis for around 6 years. Upon telling people that often I get the following question. “Isn’t Orange just about virtues?” My basic response to most people is that if you make 252Basics just about virtues thats your fault more than it’s their fault. Curriculum is such a tricky thing because there is no such thing as perfect curriculum.
Around a year ago I went searching for something else because we had used 252 for quite a while and I wanted to see what is out there. Our church is very Gospel driven we want our kids to understand the message of the Gospel in a very clear way. We want our kids to not only know about Christ but to have a theological basis for their faith. All the other curriculums we looked at need as much or more work than we put into 252 most often it was much more work.
Here is why a person like me who is against Moralistic Therapeutic Deism a major advocate for virtue based teaching?
1. The virtues give you a theme and a framework to discuss what Christ has done in a theologically practical way.
2. The scripture content at Orange is excellent and has only gotten better over the years.
3. I have found that the Orange team is very open to ideas and input.
4. I like the fact that so many other people are teaching the same lesson there is a great ability to network and group think.
How do we avoid teaching our kids moralism? This is a much deeper question that takes much more time than we have hear but I think that the people at Orange have been unfairly branded as moralists the problem is more systemic in kids ministry. So how do you teach virtues in a non-moralistic way? In talking to our kids pastor and story teller we always tweak the application so that the virtue is shown to our kids through Christ rather than a way to Christ. We avoid moralism when we understand our depravity and his Grace. When we see that we can be brave, and honest, and have conviction not because it makes look more like Christ but because Christ lived a life of honest conviction and bravely laid down his life we too can do those things because of what Christ has already done for us. Virtues demonstrated are a much different thing that virtues we strive to attain.
I think virtues have gotten a very bad rap.