This week, it seems like my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of only a few things:
- All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter
- Presidential Election
- Pictures of Pokemon
There’s nothing wrong with people posting about these topics (although sometimes there can be problems with the content). In fact, it gives us a great way to put our finger on the pulse of our area. What matters to people right now? What is consuming the thoughts of people? Jesus didn’t shy away from teaching using object lessons and parables that people could relate to. Why should we?
First off, “not avoiding” doesn’t always mean barreling straight into it. There are times when we need to talk about what is going on without going deep into details. This is especially true in kids’ ministry. For example, in the Old Testament where it seems like people are dying in horrible ways all over the place, should we avoid teaching the kids how it can apply to us? Isn’t it important to teach about the 10 plagues of Egypt and how God acted as the Israelites deliverer? Absolutely. But, do we really need to talk to our preschoolers about the firstborn son in each house being killed in the night? Sure, if we want our parents mad about their kids’ nightmares for the next few weeks. So, we can definitely point to a hope of God in these situations without going into the details. Some pastors will. Some will share gory details and their own not-so-Christlike opinions in the hopes of being sensationalists. But what should we do? Talk about these situations in order to point to hope and point to Christ.
Talk about these situations in order to point to how we should treat other people as well. It’s OK to talk about these situations in church, especially if we are teaching people how to act like Christ towards others. It’s OK to talk about how the presidential election tends to bring out the worst in some people, and to encourage Christians not to be like that. It’s OK to talk about how people commit crimes towards others because they are different than them, and then teach about how the love of Christ is for everyone, not just those like us. In fact, these situations are sometimes where people need the most guidance. I have seen, specifically this year, some of the worst, most detrimental, and hurtful posts I’ve ever seen. People that post this stuff need guidance. Don’t shy away from teaching them.
For kids’ ministry, I keep an eye on kidscreen.com. It’s a great place to track trends, understand what kids are doing, and what we need to keep a watch on. It also gives me some great object lessons to work with. So, don’t be scared of these cultural trends either. You had absolutely better believe that I know what a “Shopkin” is (although I have no idea why they exist) and that I’ve played Pokemon Go. I’ve joked for years that one of the best parts of kids’ ministry is having an excuse to watch loads of kids’ movies. This should be applied not just to kids’ ministry, though. Knowing what is going on in your community is huge. Knowing what people are doing and why is a great way to reach lost people on their home court. Be able to make references that matter to them. Know what people in your community are struggling with and what they will relate to.
So don’t be scared of these situations or trends. Look at the New Testament. Christ, Paul, and other writers used current events and cultural trends that people could relate to in order to show them the way. Learn from that example, and be willing to apply current events to people’s lives. Throw in a Pokemon Go reference. Pray for lives lost and lives changed. Talk about what people can relate to, and bring it back to Christ.