I ran across this post from Michael Spencer (a.k.a. iMonk) at his blog a few months ago and filed it in Evernote. In his attempt to answer one of his readers notes concerning youth ministry, Michael began a series on his own views. This post was entitled, “What are your thoughts on a Biblical model for youth ministry?” I encourage you to hop on over to Michael’s blog and read the post. It’s got some great thoughts that can be translated to children’s ministry.
Michael’s post got me thinking… For quite a while, I’ve had an issue whenever someone has stated that they are following a “Biblical model” for _______________ (insert whatever you like here). It could be parenting or children’s ministry or family ministry or whatever. I always have a red flag go up because what most people really mean when they say they have a Biblical model for something is that they have a model based on their understanding of what they read in the Bible… and more subtly, they are saying the if you disagree with them, then you aren’t being “Biblical.”
OK, I’m probably being cynical. They say that can happen if you live in Canada for too long. But I do still have a problem when people claim that whatever model they are supporting is the Biblical model. Yes, there are Biblical principles that we need to follow in life, but I would challenge the idea that we can extrapolate some sort of Biblical blueprint that can be shoehorned into any and every cultural context. That simply is not possible.
Again, I’m not saying that Biblical principles aren’t universal. The Story of the Bible transcends time and culture. Methodology, though, does not. Yes, it’s easy to hear ppl throw out verses that sound great, interpret them through their own culture and biases, and package them nicely for you to simply pour into your ministry to have a Biblical ministry. It’s harder to read through Scripture ourselves, pray, study the context we are in, and yes take into account the wisdom and experiences of others and develop our own unique approaches to ministry that work within our individual cultures.
If we’re truly wanting to be Biblical, then we need to stop looking for those pre-packaged, “practical” answers and develop a philosophy and ethos of ministry that will truly meet people in our individual cultures and point them to Christ.