Jesus died because you didn’t clean your room (and other things we tell our kids)

7 thoughts on “Jesus died because you didn’t clean your room (and other things we tell our kids)”

  1. I whole heartedly agree – our kids deserve a better story.

    The tension that lay in kids and youth ministry is how to articulate a holistic Gospel message and how to do so in a manner that is age-appropriate using language that they are able to receive and not simply ‘parrot’ back.

    Those who develop the curriculum gravitate towards one atonement theory because it is easier to contextualize for a younger participant and fits better into a one time/short term event like VBS. It’s hard work to think of the larger arch of the narrative to invite them into – that yes, is even able to hold some of the moralist tendencies – that extends beyond a week of content.

    Fault does not lay in any one place and neither does the hard work of changing these approaches – from publishers to pastors, parents to participants we all have a part to play.


  2. Good points…especially about the challenge of doing something holistic over the course of a short-term event like VBS. It’s hard work. And I think part of the challenge churches face is that even if they’re inclined toward a more holistic gospel (as I like to think our church is), there just isn’t much out there that (a) tries to paint a bigger picture for kids and (b) is as compelling as everything else out there. Of course, I’m hoping to make a small dent in that when my book comes out next year. 🙂

    For what it’s worth, my other thought last week was, “Dang. VBS curriculum has come a LONG way since I was a kid.”


  3. Ben, thanks for this. I have been working on these thoughts for awhile with my children and we’ve settled on two things. Firstly, we couch all conversations about “making bad decisions” in the context of the New Creation. Our daughter knows that the world we are headed towards is a place where God has made a huge house and we all get to be there and there are lots of fun things to do and we don’t get ouches or needles, or get sick, etc. When we talk about it, she gets so excited and we come up with all kinds of good things that will probably be there.

    Secondly, we talk about the quality of a decision rather than the person (as much as possible) to help create an inner conversation for them as they develop. The other day, my oldest and I were talking about a bad decision she made and she said something remarkable, “Papa, I wish I didn’t make bad decisions anymore. I wish I could stop”. I told her that I felt the same way and that even parents wish they could stop making bad decisions. This led nicely into a conversation about how the New House God is making for us will be a place that we won’t ever make bad decisions again. We won’t have to worry about it at all, but until then we have to wait.

    I was blown away that she realized that it was hard to not make bad decisions and her desire was to stop. Without the previous conversations about the goodness of the New Creation, I wouldn’t have had much context to assure her that one day we will stop making bad decisions.

    Lastly, every night, I tell her that because she was created by God, she is good and very good. One of the VBS songs is driving me crazy so I skip it on the CD because it says, “You are good and there is nothing good in me” – bullshit. I wish the songwriter would have read their Bible. (I might blog this cause I had some reflections after VBS too).


  4. I’m grateful you are pointing out how kids really are able to handle the heavy lifting, that we don’t need to dumb things down in order to reach their level of development and understanding. Well done, Ben.


  5. I think we do sell kids terribly short. They are capable of understanding theological concepts that we think are over their heads. I once saw a VBS (not a packaged one but one a church individually created) that was called something like “the Big words” and they took them through concepts like redemption, atonement, justification, etc. The report I read on the VBS said it was successful and enjoyed by the kids.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s