My first ministry position was serving as a Minister to Children. My wife has led children’s ministries for more than forty years. When we were young parents, our children were a significant priority. And now, we have five grandchildren who are the joy of our lives. For all these reasons, effective children’s ministry (meaning all ages from birth through teenagers) has been and remains important to us.
Because of my interest in this ministry area, a new book entitled Flip the Script recently caught my attention. The book’s subtitle is Disrupting tradition for the sake of the next generation. The script that needs to be flipped is redesigning children’s ministry in the context of today’s worldview—not retaining the vestiges of a bygone generation.
Children today are immersed in worldview called expressive individualism—the pursuit of fulfillment through maximizing one’s identity. That convictional commitment is pervasive throughout almost every aspect of culture—from education, to social media, to entertainment, to governmental policy, to social constructs (like marriage). Its most radical expression is gender fluidity—the belief identity determines gender. Children are saturated by this worldview today.
Ministry to children must be designed with this worldview immersion in mind. Failure to do so means our message falls on deaf ears—not resistant ears, but tone-deaf ears. Children view the world the way the culture has taught them to see it. The way they “view the world” is their worldview. They process all information, including gospel-based information, through their worldview lens.
This does not mean our message must be adjusted. It means our communication methods, ministry strategies, and dialogue points must be strategically shaped to address these worldview issues. In short, the questions and assumptions children have about life have changed dramatically over the past two generations. Our ministry methods have not. We need to flip the script!
Discussions about worldview can seem too philosophical or theoretical to impact practical ministry decisions. They can be ethereal and disconnected, but they do not have to be. That’s why this new book is so helpful. The problem is described in plain language. Principles leading to solutions are clearly outlined. The book is more a guidebook than a textbook. It’s a tool any children’s leader can use to reshape their approach to reflect today’s worldview challenges.
Among Southern Baptists, our effectiveness in reaching children and teenagers with the gospel has been declining. Rather than lament their lack of response to our current approaches, perhaps its time to rethink our strategies and methods. If you lead these ministries in your church, read Flip the Script and implement its suggestions as you create best practices for effective, not comfortable or traditional, ministry to preschoolers, children, and teenagers.