I want you to know about my friend, John Alan Turner. He came to Tulsa this weekend to speak at Garnett and spend time with our children’s ministry core team. I’ll let you learn more about him from his web site Faith20.org, but I want to tell you what I experienced through his wisdom this weekend.
My wife, Jill (his wife is also named Jill), and several other children’s core team members met Saturday afternoon and talked about how to turn our children’s ministry inside out in several ways. I don’t know all they talked about, but I’ll share a few things he related Sunday morning in my “Families Forming Faith” class.
1. Provide “shared experiences” for children and adults. Too often we silo ages and lose vital family (and he emphasized that one word for church in NT is “family”) connection. In the 252Basics curriculum he creates and publishes with the RE-think group, there are scripts for 45-minute shared experiences with parents and children. Rather than simply dropping kids off and adults heading to their classes, a monthly or quarter (or however frequently a church wants to do it) group class combines children and adults in an interactive learning experience.
2. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). OK, he didn’t use this overused acronym, but he did emphasize the importance of using the time we have with children to teach several age-appropriate things, rather than trying to do broad sweeps of hundreds of Bible stories all before a child graduates from pre-school. For example, he said his church focuses on three areas then branches out from there. (See next)
3. Growing up like Jesus. Those three simple launching points for teaching are the ways Jesus grew up. We are trying to raise our children to be like Jesus, in wisdom, and favor with God and favor with man. So we make wise choices, learn to love God, and learn how to love others. Hundreds of Bible lessons and applications can branch off of these principles.
4. Clarifying the Win. What is the “win” of every class, every ministry, every event. John is quick to ask this important question of our children’s and adult classes. If we don’t clarify what we want to accomplish (think Covey’s “begin with the end in mind”), then we don’t have imagination for what we are doing right now. So John led us to imagine all the people we’ve taught coming to our “retirement from church” party and saying, “The one thing ______ taught me that I’ll never forget is . . . ” When we clarify the win of every class, ministry, and event, we also have the authority to say no to certain other left field or tired ways of doing things.
Check out John’s site and ministry and resources. He has more than 1,800 subscribers to his 252Basics curriculum, and the resources are fresh, biblical, fun, and will change lives of those who take them seriously and use them in their churches.