On Thanksgiving Day my family went to see the Toy Story 3D double feature event. BTW, I live in Canada, so Thanksgiving happens on the second Monday of October (which coincidentally is also the opening of moose hunting season). Just two bits of random trivia for you!
Anyway, we made a last minute decision to see the movies. We were’t sure if we really wanted to fork out the money to do it, since we own the first two Toy Story movies. We were very glad we did it. Even our two year old son sat through both movies without complaint! (He was ready to go, though, when the second movie ended. He even grabbed my wife’s purse and said, “Here mom! The movies are over. Time to go!”)
With the movie being in 3D, you were able to notice details that went by the wayside before. The animation was richer. I caught many more subtle jokes and movie references. It was a totally different movie watching experience. I mean these were two movies I’ve seen over and over again. They received new life for me in 3D.
Now, I’m going to do one of those things that my wife hates… and, to be honest, I hate it when other people do it, too. I couldn’t help but wonder how that applies to how we approach the Bible and spiritual formation with kids.
Recently, I went through and reworked our philosophy and praxis statements for Redwood Kids. I still have some editing and tweaking to do, but here is the most succinct statement about what we are trying to “create:”
At Redwood Kids, we want children to know God’s Story as revealed through God’s Word and actively become a part of God’s Story.
I do go on to break that down further and flesh it out, but the key to this statement is in the second part… becoming a part of God’s Story. I think most of us in CM want children to know the Bible and know who Jesus is and know how to get into heaven and know how to best follow God. We need to go beyond knowing, though, and help kids engage in the Story and become a part of the Story. Otherwise we create children who gloss over what they read in the Bible instead of engaging it. We need children to experience faith in 3D. I know that sounds corny, but we need to get children to do more than just pray and read their Bibles and come to church and be good Christian boys and girls. We need to get them to realize that they can be a part of God’s Story of redemption: redemption of our relationship to him, redemption or our relationships to each other, and redemption of our relationship to creation.
Helping children become a part of God’s Story is risky, but I believe that it is far riskier for us to assume that life transformation is a natural byproduct of giving children enough Biblical knowledge.