Elementary School of Morals
One of the books I’m re-reading in preparation for the Princeton Emerging Adults Conference next week is Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults by Christian Smith with Patricia Snell. Christian and I are the two general session speakers at the Princeton Conference and we’re on a panel together, so I thought it would be good to freshen up on his work.
As Christian has studied emerging adults, their description of the churches of their youth and childhood has led him to label churches as “elementary schools of morals”. I couldn’t agree more. Often our children’s ministries and youth ministries teach Bible stories as a sort of Aesop’s Fables – interesting stories with pithy moral lessons. So our kids know about Moses, Noah, Daniel, and Paul, but don’t understand how all of those stories fit into the larger narrative of God’s story. And they certainly don’t understand how their own stories fit into that larger narrative.
Our church, and a number of other churches in our Sticky Faith Learning Cohort this year, are experimenting with a children’s ministry curriculum that intentionally connects each week’s lesson with the larger story of God’s work throughout history, as well the ways God is working in and through their stories today. God is framed as the main character in the story, but we are characters in the story too. I applaud any church that moves away from the “elementary school of morals” and into a bigger view of the gospel and our role in God’s unfolding amazing Kingdom plot.
Posted October 27 2010 by