After all the parties and celebrations, my friend took his family to dinner to celebrate his PhD. He had just graduated from USC. At the table, his eight-year old asked if his degree meant he could give people medicine. He replied, “No honey, it’s an academic doctorate.” Her response was, “Oh, so you’re a doctor who can’t help anyone?” Children see things simply and are not impressed by complexity.
Complex concepts require simple explanation
Studying physics, loving music and being a committed student of the Bible, I value simplicity. In these spheres, many of the real paradigm-shifting breakthroughs were due to the simplification of something complex. Newton’s Three Laws describe most natural physical phenomena. Einstein’s e=mc2 was a simplified percolation of incredibly sophisticated mathematics. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was composed around the famous four note theme.
And of course, Jesus summed up the law and prophets in “love God and love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:37-40). John states the simple essence of God when he writes that “God is love” (I John 4:8). Many people value complexity, seeking more information, more knowledge and greater “understanding.” Genius is thought to characterize people who speak about things that no one can understand.
Knowledge ≠ Understanding
Paul reminds all children’s workers that, “knowledge puffs up, while love builds up” (I Corinthians 8:1). Oftentimes when teaching the Bible, knowing more, memorizing longer passages, getting correct answers and saying right things are the fruits of prideful desires or a need to please. The complexity of growing knowledge can lead to a kind of jaded haughtiness. Many children have considerable Bible knowledge, but that knowledge has not changed their lives or transformed their hearts.
Many children have considerable Bible knowledge, but that knowledge has not changed their lives or transformed their hearts.
Simplicity when teaching the Bible is the way forward. Not simple-mindedness or the dumbing down of God’s Word. Rather, we want to teach the Word in ways children can understand, experience and integrate in a life-transforming way. Children – and adults, for that matter – are often clear about the knowledge but fall short on the application.
I know what it means to love my neighbor; actually doing that is the problem. We know what it means to give 10% of our income to God; following through is the challenge. Forgiveness is a great idea, until you must forgive someone. Committing to simplicity in children’s ministry allows children’s workers and parents to place equal emphasis on actual response and heart transformation.
Committing to simplicity in children’s ministry allows children’s workers and parents to place equal emphasis on actual response and heart transformation.
Every Generation Ministries is working with church leaders around the world, helping them take the immense and amazing Word of God and communicate it simply to children. For example, we have created eleven simple, life-changing lessons for children from the book of Jonah alone.
Please join me in praying for the thousands of children’s workers around the world who are working to bring the Word of God alive, teaching the Bible in simple ways to transform children in Christ through His Church.