For many years I have coached my volunteers that parents generally ask two questions when they pick up their kids. 90% of the time the first question is, “Did you have fun?”, usually followed by, “What did you learn?”
I see a lot of kids’ ministries that are blessed with incredibly fun environments. They do fun, high energy music and very creative games and teaching. But many times, the content is shallow. I have also seen ministries and curriculum that do a great job providing very deep content. However, the extremely dry methodology could make you want to stick a pencil in your eye.
Fun versus content… which wins?
Fun is important. In fact, fun is kids’ primary language. I am a firm believer that kids learn better when they are engaged in learning and when they are enjoying what is happening. Learning about Jesus absolutely should be fun. We know that kids want to be in a fun experience and we know that parents don’t want to feel like they are dragging their kids to a boring place.
The problem arises when fun becomes the most important thing. “Fun” is something we are always chasing, especially when we get in the trap of feeling that we have to compete with the rest of the world. We get so busy trying to out-Disney Disney or “out-fun” the church down the street, we lose our focus. Or perhaps we don’t even worry about others, but we try to one-up ourselves every week. Cool and fun become our god.
When fun becomes our focus, we often sacrifice content. We spend more energy creating the most fun game instead of figuring out how to best teach God’s Word. We pour time into creative skits and videos and spend less time studying Scripture. We create cool environments and provide less substance.
It is not our job to be 100% entertaining all of the time. Our job is not to compete with video games and amusement parks. Our job is to disciple kids. Our kids get fun and games in many arenas. Where else do they get Scriptural knowledge? We should absolutely make learning fun, but if we have to choose between fun and Jesus, we always must err on the side of Jesus.
However, choosing to be boring and dry when teaching the gospel is lazy. A sign used to hang in my office that that said “It should be a sin to bore kids with the Bible.” I 100% agree with that. Diminishing the most incredible story in the world to lifeless learning is sinful. We have the truth that will change kids’ lives. We have a Savior who defeated death and rose from the grave. If we bore kids with this, we are being terrible stewards of the gospel.
So how about we do both? Let’s do the very hard work of teaching deep, Biblical content. Let’s refuse to shortchange our kids with surface-level spiritual truth and happy thoughts and moral lessons. Let’s do the harder work of figuring out how to communicate solid theology in ways that are fun, engaging, and meaningful. Let’s have environments that are exciting, but not at the expense of true gospel-centered teaching.
Let’s have a great time doing it, but let’s keep Jesus at the center in every single thing that we do within our ministry.
Mark 8:36 says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Friends, what does it profit our kids to have the most amazingly cool experience and miss the Savior?