Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. So goes the old adage. Be assured I see nothing wrong with keeping kids busy as long as effort is balanced by rest and work is purposeful. Those of us who mentor children want to keep them engaged – active. Those of us who promote missions education for children, however, want to go beyond keeping them busy.
Over the last decade or two, we’ve tried to keep up with the major Christian producers of children’s curriculum. We design and market materials that are much like theirs – colorful, fast-paced, interactive, relational and sensitive to students’ needs and preferences. Much of this approach is based on common sense and workable strategies that reflect what is important to North American Christians today.
Colorful national dress, recipes, crafts and customs, all the things that help us appreciate the many varieties of cultural expressions around the world – all of this lends itself to interesting lessons. Dramatic rescues, heartfelt need, stirring challenges to give and help – all of these are useful tools in our attempt to motivate.
But if this alone is all we offer, we do our children a disservice. Not that missions education done this way is bad…it’s just not enough.
Actually, there may be a great big missing piece in both basic curricula and missions education. What may be missing is the primary focus that we were created to give God the glory that He deserves. It’s probably one of the reasons the popular Perspectives Course devotes one-third of its material to the biblical basis of mission. This reflects our need to embrace eternal truths as central, our need to focus on God Himself and His Kingdom advance.
Furthermore, when we approach missions education as add-on features to ”primary” Christian education, many leaders in church ministries simply opt out. Missions filters down to parents as occasional events with a major focus on raising funds. Perhaps home-schooling networks are becoming more sympathetic to our cause, and approaches to church families, in general, become increasingly popular.
How then can we keep kids engaged in God’s Kingdom cause and go beyond keeping them busy? I’d like to share some ideas next time. Meanwhile, we appreciate your response to this blog entry. What do you have to say about this?