“Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can’t bear to think of. Or they may mean that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism, and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu [State Police in the USSR] and the atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise, you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. Nor do most of us find that violence and bloodshed, in a story, produce any haunting dread in the minds of children. As far as that goes, I side impenitently with the human race against the modern reformer. Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any kind or degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel. For, of course, it wants to be a little frightened.” – C.S. Lewis
Here is a repost of a post I did explaining how to do an indoor easter hunt. We do this for all of our campuses. I want to add that you do not need to have to have a highliy themed environment for this to work. Below is a picture of a map of one of our smaller campuses that isn’t themed as much as the pictures further down in the post.
You may ask why should I switch to this model of egg hunt.
1. Parents do this with their kids – we are providing a safe, friendly, event parents can experiance with their kids.
2. It takes WAY LESS volunteers – no 14 hour egg stuffing sessions.
3. It keeps the focus on family not on frenzy. We do it on Palm Sunday so we can invite families back for Easter and so we keep Easter Sunday focused on the resurection of Christ without the craziness of a egg hunt event.
4. It allows our kids staff and volunteers to spend time with their own families on Easter Sunday rather than running an event and cleaning up after.
Before I start this blog post let me be clear about a couple of things.
1. I am insanely jealous of Bible Belt weather this time of year.
2. I am not a big fan of children killing each other in the craziness we call egg hunts.
Why am I jealous of the Bible Belt this time of the year? Well, most often when it’s time to do an Easter egg hunt this is what it looks like outside our church. (No exaggeration as this photo was taken Easter 3 years ago)
We were looking for a way to do an Easter egg alternative and one of the women on our team Lori Buck came up with a brilliant idea. Do an Easter egg hunt indoors. I have to admit my chaos meter was going crazy. She began to explain her idea and it was brilliant.
Here is what it looks like.
1. Buy foam eggs online or at Hobby Lobby
2. Use “Blue Painters Tape” to tape said eggs to the wall.
3. Hide them in a specific room or all over your kids environment.
(Here is what it looked like taped to the wall)
4. Create a starting point and supply maps of the locations you want the kids to search for the eggs.
5. Provide the maps and pens
6. Do not allow kids to do this on their own – by forcing parents to help you create a shared experience with parent and child.
7. Have the parents and kids search for the eggs stuck to the walls once the egg is located circle the part on the map where the egg is located.
8. Once finished return the map for a prize. (We did a 3 tiered prize system based on how many eggs the kids found.) All the kids walked away with candy.
Here is what I loved about it.
1. It was FAR CALMER than any egg hunt I have ever been to.
2. Parents and kids did it together. Families were working together to find these eggs hidden all over the walls. Kids loved it and parents loved as much or more than their kids.
3. It was different, fun, orderly and just enough crazy to be fun.
4. Because we leveraged the parents we needed only a couple of volunteers.
We have done this event for 8 years now. Here are some of my thoughts. I love how it gives the parents the keys to the event. It’s not something the bring their kids to. It’s an event they all participate in. We do it on Palm Sunday to maximize attendance for two weeks, not just one. We invite everyone back for Easter services the following week. If the weather was better we may do the helicopter drop, but our poor weather forced us to create an event that pushes the family to do something fun together. This might be late for this year but try it out next year you might like it.
I bought a new Bible. A new Bible for myself and not for my kids. Purchasing a new Bible for myself is something I haven’t done in a long time. I bought a Bible for when I preach and for my devotional use when I am finished doing a devotional Bible for each of my kids. It’s a beautiful Bible. It is a Crossway Goatskin Verse by Verse preaching Bible.
Here is why I bought this particular Bible.
- Lifetime guarantee.
- Bigger font, making it easier to read from a podium.
- ESV – for speaking, ESV is my favorite translation, and it’s the one we use most often at our church.
- Verse By Verse – I have always found reading from blocks of text from a platform challenging to do, so I have read from an iPad or printed text on paper in the last few years. – The older I get, the more I like paper, and the less I trust screens. I want to preach from paper and read my text from an actual Bible.
- The smyth-sewn binding allows the Bible to lay open and not close so it can be held open with one hand, which is both convenient and comfortable.
- Heirloom Quality. I hope that it will be of good enough quality to pass it down to the first of our grandkids who are ordained to preach the gospel.
I haven’t received any incentive from Crossway to post this just really liked the Bible they made and thought I should share it with you should you want to buy a new Bible someday.
Here is what Crossway says about it.
The ESV Preaching Bible, Verse-by-Verse Edition, builds upon the foundational features of the ESV Preaching Bible with a new verse-by-verse format. The primary vision behind this edition was to create a Bible specifically tailored to the task of preaching. To that end, this edition maintains a preacher-friendly layout with each verse on its own line to ensure ease in public and personal reading. This elegant Bible features a highly readable type, enlarged and bolded verse numbers, extra-wide margins, high-quality paper, a durable smyth-sewn binding, and a premium goatskin cover guaranteed to last a lifetime.
I have been a part of the children’s ministry conversation for over 20 years. Several years ago, I was in a conversation with a few friends where we coined the term “Kidmin.” Initially, I saw the issues of parent involvement in the discipleship of their kids as an issue that was founded in children’s ministry leaders setting themselves as experts. Saying, in essence, “drop off your kids; we know what to do.” Like most things, we swung from one extreme to the other. We have gone from a kid pastor as discipleship expert to a kids pastor as cheerleader model. How we engage with parents needs to change.
We have all championed parents as primary in the discipleship process for the past several years. However, we need to move from that model. It’s not that it’s inaccurate, but it’s incomplete. It’s one thing to champion the message “Parents are the primary disciplers of their kids.” It’s a whole other thing to carry this out in a biblical, faithful way that leads to a lasting faith in kids.
Much good has come from this message and focus! However, there have also been some unintended consequences. I think parents as primary in the discipleship of their children has produced a disengagement by church leaders in the discipleship process. It has also produced a lack of trust by those who lead in the church in the power and place of the church in the life of those we lead.
Before he left, the charge from Christ was to make disciples; the vehicle he chose for that to take place was the church. This in no way is a diminishment of the family. Still, I believe it is an understanding that our families are not a substitute for the church. Our families are to be a reflection of the church and agents of the church. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her. We in the church are to love each other as dear brothers and sisters. Our families should be like a little church, and our churches are to be like a little family.
The church has never been more necessary than it is today. Many things have changed during the covid pandemic; one of those things that have changed is there has been more conversation around ecclesiology, what the church is, and what her role is. Going forward, we need to change our language and structures in how we talk and how we lead.
Ever since George Barna wrote his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, this idea and message of “parents are the primary disciple-makers of their kids” has been the prevailing narrative in children’s ministry. So as I type this following sentence, I do so in full awareness of just how much I’m going against the grain…but here it goes.
We need to move away from language and actions that say parents are primary and move to parents as partners. Now let’s unpack this a bit.
What do Parents as Partners Look Like?
- Parents as partners is not us supplying resources and parents doing the work. It is us as a church discipling the parents and us as a church discipling kids and parents. Then, parents take what they have seen and experienced and, in turn, disciplining kids at home.
- Parents as partners know the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit as primary and our work in home and church as equally necessary.
- Parents as partners see the goal as helping kids live lives of obedience and imitation of Christ, not simply the outward manifestation of good or moral behavior. What does that look like? Eugene Peterson would call it “A long obedience in the same direction.” Bill Hull would say that “Discipleship occurs when someone answers the call to learn from Jesus and others how to live his or her life as though Jesus were living it. As a result, the disciple becomes the kind of person who naturally does what Jesus did.”
- Parents as partners mean we have a shared goal and a shared vision of whom their kids are becoming. Parents as primary leaves parents to decide what is the summum bonum or greatest good for their child. It has led in many ways to the subtle and sometimes not so subtle idolatry of the family.
What needs to change?
We need to change our church culture. We must help parents see that the church is our family, that God is our father and that we living in community through intentional relationships will become the kinds of people who naturally do what Jesus did.
Our language needs to change. Christ is primary, and we are secondary. Church (the Bride of Christ…which families are a part of) is our primary family. Our families should be a living example of parents and kids walking long obedience in the same direction. The goal of our families is not happiness in this life but to point to a greater reality. Our families are a good gift that we are to enjoy and that form us into the image of Christ, but they are not the substance.
The chief good and the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As a church, we must model this for our parents and kids so that we together may become the kind of people who naturally do what Jesus did.
In a culture where fear is ever-present and all-pervasive, we turn to almost anything to find comfort and to find help. There are a million things to be afraid of thanks to the internet and COVID; that number has tripled.
One of the most repeated phrases in scripture is “fear not” “Do not be afraid.” It’s almost as if the God who created us knows us and knows that much of what we do is driven by the blasphemy of pessimism. This idea is that things are worse than we imagine that things will not end well and that the worst possible thing that can happen will happen. We are plagued by these doubts all the time. Daily we read of people who are being oppressed and killed around the world we know people around us who are struggling with addictions and sorrows. People we love dying of covid, cancer, and suicide takes a toll on our soul.
The answer that we are given to combat this fear is false optimism. We are told to think happy thoughts, to avoid people with negative energy. In the church, it isn’t much better. Many famous churchmen say that positive confession changes things that our words create in the same way God created the world with his word. We are given the same false optimism the world offers only in attractive wrapping paper called faith.
The problem with the false optimism the world offers us is that it avoids the difficulty through distraction. The problem with the false optimism the church offers as Chesterton says is that it tries “to prove that we fit in to the world.” We have an idea of how the world should be and to avoid the blasphemy of pessimism we settle for a cheap false optimism. We see the broken world needing mending a world and a life that if not cared for can be lost. We fail to see and understand that this world and this life were never ours they were never our possessions. They are signposts of another world.
Gerard Manley Hopkins says it this way.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
Our world is filled with the grandeur of God, charged with his glory. It isn’t great because He created it but because it continues to carry the beauty and glory of who he is from beginning to end. Its job is to point us to what can really help us in the middle of pandemics and pain. We are not citizens of this world. We were made for another world. This world despite the evil that men have done that despite the world bearing the smell of man and his sinful self-inflicted pain.
Hopkins finishes his poem this way:
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Hopkins says despite our best attempts to destroy the world we live in God’s creation is “never spent.” We have hope in two things. The first is that the God who created this world broods over it saturates it with his grace. God is watching over our world he is not distant he is close he is “bent over” not standing afar off and he ordains all things according to the counsel of his will. You are not your own and you are not alone.
Chesterton in Orthodoxy helps us from 100 years ago telling us that we were made for another world.
“The optimist’s pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in the light of the supernatural. The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring.”
The second is this world is not our home and our lives are not our own. When I heard I was in the wrong place my soul sang for joy. So powerful. If you have put your faith in Christ you are in the wrong place. So much of the fear we experience comes from a fear of losing was is temporal and failing to see that our lives are eternal. The revelation that this world is not our home and our lives are not our own should produce in us contentment in this life and at the same time discontented homesickness for the next.