Refining the message is closely tied into your integrated strategy. The goal of your integrated strategy describes what you want children and students to be when they grow up. With that goal in mind, what messages and what truths do the students and children in your church need to hear? What will best prepare them to be strong and independent adult Christ followers?
All of it? Everything? Sure. However, this creates a problem though. Since we only have about 40 hours a year (in some of the best case scenarios) to teach children, it isn’t possible to teach them everything. So as we face that environment of 1st-3rd graders, what messages do they specifically need to hear. When choosing from the entirety of the scripture, we must be selective. What about when they’re in the middle school environment. What are you going to do with those 40 hours a year? Will they be different messages from what the 1st-3rd graders are hearing?
You must refine the message.
In your effort to refine the message, you’ll need to take into account these three things.
- All scripture is equally inspired
- All scripture is not equally important
- All scripture is not equally applicable to every stage of life
What does this mean? All scripture is God-breathed, but not every verse in the Bible carries the same weight. There are certain passages and scriptures that bring more impact than others. When sharing your faith with a friend, there are certain specific verses that we tend to share because of their importance. When confronted by the religious leaders and asked what commandment was the most important, Jesus didn’t back down. Although every commandment was inspired, Jesus said that all the commandments could hang under loving God and loving others. Jesus wasn’t inclusive, he prioritized what was most important. Last of all, we need to filter what scriptures are appropriate for different ages. When teaching in children’s ministry, you’re going to glide over details pertaining to sexual sins. They don’t need to know it to realize the depth of God’s love and his plan for our lives. However, once those hormones are kicking in, these 6th and 7th graders need to know what the Bible says about sexual purity.
You have varying audiences. You have limited time. You have a goal before you. What are you going to say? Refine the message.
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