An underground river can go undiscovered for centuries, even for millennia, until someone or something takes a different turn in life. Then it is discovered, with all its richness and new possibilities, reflecting all the work that has been going on behind-the-scenes when no one was paying attention…except God.
There is an underground river flowing in our ministry to kids that for years, even centuries, has gone virtually unnoticed. It is powerful and transforming, but hidden from our programming, our activities and our teaching. We are usually unaware of its presence, yet it is so real.
Listening to Focus on the Family over the holidays (Helping Your Kids Grab Hold of Their Faith, December 20-21, 2011), (http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/focus-on-the-family/listen/) I heard evidence again of the river and the power it can have in our lives and the lives of our children. Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ for Kids, The Case for Faith for Kids, The Case for a Creator for Kids and Off My Case, talked of his discovery of this underground spiritual river that made all the difference in his spiritual life as a kid.
Lee grew up in a church family, learning Bible stories, memorizing verses and doing all the things a regular churched kid was supposed to do. But as he states, “As I started to get a little older, in elementary school and junior high, I would start asking tough questions and nobody was willing to engage. They just brushed it off. It was kind of like the unspoken response was, ‘Shut up. Don’t ask those questions.’ So, my conclusion as a little kids was, ‘Oh, I get it…they don’t want to talk about it because there are no good answers,’ and so that was my first step towards atheism.”
Like many kids, Lee was longing for a strong, vibrant relationship with a God who was mightier than anything in his life. For many of our kids, God seems like that underground river—powerfully there yet they don’t know how to discover it. Fortunately for Lee, later in life he began digging and searching for it on his own and eventually found that life-changing river in Jesus Christ.
Think about your spiritual leadership with your kids. You may avoid those deeper questions your kids want to know or you may spend all of your time on knowledge of Bible facts and perfect memorization, but never create time or space for questions, serving, prayer or listening to God. It’s never too late to learn to carve out time in your lives or in your classroom to open up discussion or create space to help kids get beyond the activities to the message and character of Jesus Christ. Kids are eager and capable, they need someone to lead.
Janet Anthony, KidZ At Heart International, Next Gen Director