The laugh part of my process in kids’ ministry is the kid stuff. The Lego towers and Magna-Tile castles; the art projects that depart our children’s chapel searching as a tornado blew thru it. Telling the kids my favorite Bible testimonies, assisting them to make Advent wreaths, and hiding hundreds of candy-stuffed eggs for them on Easter morning.
The tons harder part of the task is stepping returned and wrestling with some huge-photo questions. Why do mother and father warfare to get their children to church? What case can I make for Christianity at a time when kids have such a lot of appealing options? Why must young humans dedicate themselves to nonsecular things when their wider community views such commitments as quaint, obsolete, and even regressive?
When I became developing up, I never heard each person ask those questions. The culture that raised me turned into so tightly religious, so uniform in its beliefs, and so self-reinforcing that there was no want to ask why we did what we did. We went to church on Sunday mornings because that’s what Sunday mornings had been for. We professed religion in God because God becomes self-evidently actual. We pursued nonsecular matters due to the fact the very fitness of our souls become at stake in the pursuit. Religion turned into no funny story—we had eternal destinies to at ease.
But what happens when the terms change? What does nonsecular urgency appear like within the context of a more innovative Christianity, amid a broader culture in which what was obvious to so many human beings is no longer even tolerable? Without the fearmongering and the hellfire, the guilt, and manipulation, how can we make a compelling case for following Jesus?
Charles Taylor argues in A Secular Age that Western way of life now not gives the bulwarks that after made faith simpler. We now not view the natural global as testimony; we view it through the lens of technological know-how. We now not stay in societies in which nonsecular ritual is deeply implicated in civic existence. We no longer live in an enchanted global: we indulge kids’ perception in spirits and demons and moral forces active within the international, but we absolutely count on them to shed such fantasies before adulthood. And we did not stay in a global in which faith can make an exceptional declare on “fullness”—that numinous experience of surprise, of awe, or greater.
Of course, none of these cultural shifts has been intentional or self-aware. Kids don’t come up to me on Sunday mornings to discuss disenchantment or the loss of the numinous. They ask things like: None of my pals should go to church, why do I? If your dad and mom hadn’t raised you to be Christian, could you still be one? Why should I pray to God once I haven’t any proof? If Jesus is so important, why doesn’t everybody communicate about him outdoor of the church?
My own daughter once asked me what God is for after a fervent prayer of hers went unanswered. Likewise, my son, coming instantly from a US records lecture on World War II, requested me why the God of history is nonexistent in his excessive faculty curriculum.
I don’t have solutions to all these questions, but I want to hold wrestling with them and weighing the solutions that count number to me. If I could offer a child a few reasons to stick round—reasons to pursue God inside the context of a confusing world and a less than the excellent church—here are 3 possibilities.
Christ invitations us into a compelling story. Kids love memories. They love residing in memories. And they want stories to train them that lifestyles are complicated, that easy solutions rarely satisfy, and that even the high-quality “thankfully ever after” endings precise a charge. Good testimonies display everybody that our lives aren’t random and meaningless. They promise us meaning and coherence; they keep out the hope that our lives rely on as important components of a bigger entire. Most importantly, excellent stories factor past themselves. They start and stop with a creator. Maybe Christianity is really worth it as it’s a deep and complete tale we can fall in love with. It’s a tale as a way to preserve us.
Faith allows us to glimpse eternity—in creation, within the church, inside the fellowship of the saints and the breaking of the bread. In every movement we take and every idea we assume, Christianity insists that tiny seeds of eternity are growing. Nothing is superfluous; not anything is in vain. What we do, how we live, what we supply ourselves over to, what we profess, what we worship—all of its subjects. It’s so easy to neglect this, and the church, if not anything else, allows us to bear in mind.
The ground of Christianity is love. When our youngsters need it (and they will), there may be a love available right here that nothing else on this planet will ever give an explanation for, diminish, or damage. It’s a love that overcomes each barrier of suspicion and hatred we humans assemble. It cleanses, blesses, demanding situations, and fortifies us. It’s an everlasting love, the affection of the broken, resurrected Christ. It’s a love worth residing and death for.
I want I ought to know that these motives will suffice for the kids I care about, each at home and at paintings. I can’t; their journeys aren’t mine to control. All I can do is hold these motives out to them, small treasures in my palms, and invite them to take a terrific, lengthy look—after which some other, and another. All I can do is say, “Come and spot.”