Dan Edelen shares his concerns about the curriculum usually used for Children’s Sunday School and VBS. The underlying assumption behind almost all children’s curriculum used in churches is that the kids are already regenerate (the theological term for “born again”). He writes:
Somehow we’ve created this sheen about kids that says that all of them are flesh-and-blood Precious Moments figurines. That bedrock assumption fuels almost all learning materials aimed at little kids. But here’s the truth: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Unless someone is born again, they have no relationship with God. Yet all of the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Summer Camp curricula I’ve ever come across overlooked that truth and naturally assumed that somehow every kid got magically saved by little fairy evangelists that hovered around their pillows for ten years and whispered the Gospel in their ears.
The problem is that the kids grow up with the idea that because their parents take them to church, they are automatically Christians. As a result, they do not have a clear idea what it means to be a Christian. Instead, the lessons tend to focus on good behavior, with the result that we often end up training a group of little legalists instead of leading them into a saving relationship with Christ. No wonder “85% of kids drift away from church between the ages of thirteen and sixteen” (from Dan’s post).
I realize that it can be risky for pastors and Sunday School teachers to suggest to church people that their little ones or their teens might not be saved, but those parents who are more mature spiritually will appreciate our genuine concern for the eternal welfare of their kids.
This also has implications for the way in which we share the Gospel with children. Dan writes,
While we’re at it, let’s also clarify that “Ashley, did you ask Jesus into your heart?” coupled with little Ashley’s head nod does not equate to knowing that Ashley is born again. In fact, what’s the deal in so many churches with cajoling kids into asking Jesus into their hearts? My Bible doesn’t list that as being the mechanism for salvation. We know what the Bible says about leading a little one astray, don’t we? Well, evidently not.
The Bible does not ever tell us to “ask Jesus into our hearts.” Children come to salvation the same way that adults do, namely by “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). I don’t think that it is possible to come to salvation without admitting that we are sinners and acknowledging that Jesus took on Himself the punishment that we deserve. Without that, we are preaching “another gospel” that would have been unrecognizable to Jesus or to Paul.
I do not have a great deal of experience teaching children, so those of you who have experience teaching Children at church can tell me whether you think this criticism of the curriculum is too harsh. I realize that most of those who work in children’s ministry are faithful and hard working, but I agree with Dan in wishing that the publishers would give us better material.
What do you think?