Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The other day, in my Religious Education class, this question was posed to us:

"What do you want to teach a child by the time they are 12?"

During class we were supposed to get in groups and discuss what we thought kids need to know by that stage in their lives, and honestly, I was kind of appalled by the answers I heard. I mean at face-value they were all okay answers, but they just really struck me as complete garbage.

Here are some of the first ones I heard...
  • actions speak louder than words
  • how to be a good person
  • how to be obedient
I mean seriously, are you kidding me?! One girl had the audacity to call me "harsh" because I said that they need to know that they are sinners. How can anyone have an appreciation or understanding of salvation without first knowing what sin is and that they are a sinner? I understand that the average child cannot comprehend the intricacies of theology, but what Jesus-loving Children's Minister can look at the kids in their ministry and knowingly keep the whole Truth from them? Bible stories are great and important in building a foundation for these kids, but knowing who Zaccheus was, or being able to sing the books of the Bible in order isn't going to get anyone any closer to Heaven. Just sayin.

I guess the reason it frustrated me so much was because I was thinking of my own (future/potential) children. I don't want my ten/eleven/twelve year old thinking that "being a good person" or being "obedient" means anything without having a personal, intimate relationship with Christ. I mean sure, I want obedient children ;), but in the grand scheme of things that would not be on the top of my list.

My group mentioned Jesus once (minus my submissions) . And the one time they mentioned Him, the exact words were "...to know Jesus died on a cross". Seriously, that was it. No explanation of His life and why He had to die on a cross, no emphasis on salvation or the Gospel...just flat historical facts. I'm sorry, I know working with kids over the summer and taking classes doesn't make me an expert, but I'm pretty sure the average kid can retain and understand more than that...especially the older ones.

I'm not saying every church should try to scare their kids, or anything like that, but if the thought of Hell scares them...well, it should! Children can be taught all kinds of things as long as they are taught in love and kindness. Give kids the opportunity to understand, instead of withholding Truth from them. Offer them the whole Gospel, not just cartoons or cut-and-dry facts. I know I probably sound like some hardcore beat-truth-into-them type of lady, but I hate the thought of kids wasting what can be the most influential years of growth on pointless trivia or partial Truth.

Alright, I think my rant is over now... *steps off soapbox*


Marie said...

haha. in all fairness, you did warn me that this would be a soapbox post.

but I must agree... especially considering in this case you were talking about a 12 year old. That's not a kindergardener... 12 year olds know a lot as is. anyway, I am just trying to say that I get where you are coming from... and I agree. ha.

sorry I couldn't spark more conversation/debate/discussion... but as you know that is just not my personality. ;)

Andrew said...

I agree with you 98%.

On Hell, I don't know if I would teach them that. At least, not the younger ones. The older ones, yes, but I still think teaching kids in explicit terms about Hell is the same as telling them the grisly details of the Holocaust or the Inquisition.

I believe kids are much smarter than we give them credit for, but that doesn't mean the emotional weight of it is something they can carry. That's my opinion, and maybe I'm wrong.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't explain to them Grace and, by extension, sin. We should. The age bracket 0-12 is really pretty broad, and I don't know where I will draw the line. But I think they'll be ready to hear about Jesus before they're ready to hear about Hell.

Danielle said...

I still think teaching kids in explicit terms about Hell is the same as telling them the grisly details of the Holocaust or the Inquisition

I didn't mean we had to teach them all the "grisly details" but I do think they need to hear the concept. The older ones will be able to handle more and understand it better, but even the young ones understand good and bad and Heaven and Hell. But I understand your reservations, and I could always be wrong about this stuff.