A couple of days ago, this tweet came up from Jim Wideman:
Now, I’m not trying to criticize Jim Wideman. He’s been around a lot longer than I have and has mentored many a children’s pastor. You can find out more about what he does at JimWideman.com.
I think, though, that we short-change the kids, families, and volunteers we minister to by simply telling people to “do what the Bible says.” If it were that simple, then why are there so many dedicated and intelligent Christ followers who disagree with each other on what is written within the pages of the word of God? That is exactly what Scot McKnight examines in his book The Blue Parakeet.
Scot McKnight challenges our assumptions that the Bible is simply a list of rules or a puzzle to be put together or a some kind of theological guide that needs to be systematized. He starts off by admitting to the elephant in the room of Christendom: we pick and choose how we read and apply the Bible. Now, I can hear the gasps of disbelief. What about inerrancy? What about being inspired by the Holy Spirit? McKnight isn’t saying the Bible isn’t the word of God. What he is saying, though is that the Bible isn’t meant to be read in parts but seen as a whole. The Bible is God’s story of bringing redemption to man and creation culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus and continuing on into today as we join with the Holy Spirit in his ongoing redemptive work leading to his return. As we read the Bible, we need to interpret what is read through the backdrop of the entire story. Even then, we have to admit that each of us have lenses that we interpret scripture through and still don’t come to the same conclusions all the time.
Is this muddy? Doesn’t this allow for a subjective interpretation of scripture? I don’t think so because we also use the backdrop of history and tradition and creeds to inform our interpretations. What this way of reading and interpreting scripture does do is to help us to actually think through what we believe certain scriptures teach and not always opt for the “easy” or culturally popular answer.
As we begin to view scripture in this way, it becomes more alive and more dynamic than “Basic Instrcutions Before Leaving Earth.” The Bible becomes a living story which points us to the infinite God who created us and paid a huge price for us to be able to be in relationship with him again.
What does that mean for children’s ministry? It means that we help children learn the God story told in the Bible. It means we help children understand that the Bible is not an instruction book; it is not a guidebook. We help children understand that the Bible is God’s story written for us; it is his love letter that reveals who he is and points us to him. It means we stop telling kids, “Just do what the Bible says.”
I highly recommend Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet. It is easy to read and gives you a new perspective on how to read the Bible.
- What goes through your mind when you hear someone say something like, “I just do what the Bible says”?
- What do you think about McKnight’s method on reading the Bible?
- What do you do to help children know the overall God Story of the Bible?