So, why do we do it?

As the director of the 9:30 KidsTown Live! stage show on Sunday mornings, I've often found myself in conversation with folks explaining to them my reasoning behind why we do some of the stuff we do. Why Wizard of Oz, why Narnia? Why not just open your Bible and tell them about Moses? Aren't you teaching them the Bible?

First, "Yes, we are teaching them the "Bible", but not in the way this question implies. It is important for everyone to know the purpose behind KTL, before judging whether or not the program's purpose is being achieved. In the simplest shortest way to say it, KTL's goal is "to tell the kids and teach the youth." So it has two main purposes. The first of which is discussed here.

Now to effectively "tell the kids" requires an understanding of so many principles. In this first instalment of probably a multiple article review, I want to discuss the necessity of being relevant in order to effectively tell the kids.

In Jesus' day when He walked the earth and He was attempting to explain heavenly concepts to those around Him who only understood earthly meanings, Jesus would utilize the surroundings and culture that were familiar to his audience to help them understand what He was trying to teach. The lay of the land during this time period was covered in farmland and pastures for grazing animals. Shepherding was huge industry. People lived with this industry all around them and understood the life of a shepherd. So when Jesus related Himself to this industry by calling Himself the Good Shepherd who "giveth His life for His sheep" people could relate.

In the 21st century, things are different. Now the message is still the same. Jesus is still seeking after His lost sheep, but these days, if we as teachers try to relate sheep stories to our iPod carrying, text messaging, metro city life kids, we're going to get some blank looks and then their going to say something about us being "so last century" and then go back to listening to music on their iPods.

It is critical that we come at our young people in a way in which the words of our Lord that were written thousands of years ago are still relevant to them in what they are dealing with today. To achieve this we have to constantly be upgrading our props and presentations to what our audience can relate with today.

I have often found that if I just start talking about Noah and the ark, a lot of my audience who has been raised in church, gives me that look of "I've heard this a hundred times already" and then I see them go almost semi-comotose and "check out" for the rest of the lesson. Now remembering who Noah was is not important (now don't freak out on me- let me finish before you condem me) and so its no loss, but if they have checked out on me and miss the spiritual point behind story of Noah, for example, that we can trust God's plans even when everyone else is making fun of us, then we have a real tragedy on our hands and I've wasted my whole week's preparation time and the kids time in being there and the parents' time in bringing them.

Jesus didn't teach the people stories about sheep to get them to learn something about sheep. He did it to help them learn something about Him and His kingdom! Too often we get so wraped up in making sure kids know the facts about who Noah was, what he built the ark with, how big it was, how he got the animals, and other really rather unimportant facts, that we miss the whole point of the story- the spiritual point. What life-changing idea or concept are we trying to get our audience to understand so that they can inpart it into their life's values and have it help guide their life?

So the real question here is: Is the medium (i.e. story, object lesson, drama skit, puppet play, etc) in which we are trying to bring across our spiritual point to our audience being effective? Is it supporting and enhancing our point? Now this is really a broad question, but in the context of this article, we are asking, is the relevancy there? Are the kids connecting with what I am saying because they understand the story's situation?- they've been there, they know about how it works, they live in that kind of environment, they know and talk with others that are "into that."

Kids these days know nothing about sheep- trust me I've checked- "hold up, let me google that" they say. They also don't want to be lectured to, don't really care to hear about a giant boat, fishermen at sea, or read about how "so-and-so begat so-and-so." But start talking about iPods, Facebook, Nintendo Wii, McDonalds, homework, bullies, divorce, movies, traffic, or TV and you got them right where you want them. Now all we got to do is take the relevant medium and put into it the always relevant no matter how old it gets spiritual point from God's Word.

So why do we do it? Why do we dress up as pirates and do a parody of the Carribean Pirates? So we can teach the kids that unlike pirates who come to steal and to destroy, God has promised us that if we invest in His eternal life, that no one can steal us out of His Father's hand (John 10:10, 29).

Relevancy can also be blamed for many of our other rather amazing efforts at other special KTL shows such as Wizard of Oz, Narnia, High School Musical, Iron Chef, and Polar Express. Links to exciting descriptions of what took place on these days are located in the green sidebar.