Yesterday I began a short series on the two most significant questions asked every week in our church hallways. They are questions parents ask their kids when they pick them up after the service. I truly believe that the answers to these questions have a huge impact on whether a family will come back the following week.

Yesterday, I revealed the first question, “Did you have fun?” Fun! It’s what parents seem most concerned about. More than anything else, parents care about whether their kids laughed and giggled during they hour they were there. It may not be our favorite question, but I think we have a fantastic opportunity. If we can create an experience this is crazy fun, that visiting family is much more likely to come back next week.

The second question is better. I mean better because those of us who work in children’s ministry like it more. It’s a question we want moms and dads to ask. Interestingly, this question is typically asked after the “did you have fun” question and much less often.

Question number two: What did you learn?

Yes, this is a great question, but I’m going to admit, I’m not really in love with this question either. Why? Because I don’t think that parents really care about the answer. Okay, maybe they do… but not completely.

I feel the “What did you learn?” question is an automatic question. Parents ask it without even knowing that they ask it. They ask it every day their kids come home from school and kids typically give the same exact answer, “no.” The “What did you learn?” question is very similar to the automatic “how are you?” question and response. You know, when someone asks, “how are you?” and the other person responds with “how are you?” It’s not even an answer, but we don’t care because it’s just a greeting and we really don’t care about the answer. The “What did you learn?” question is almost like this. When the child says, “I don’t know,” few parents push to find the answer, revealing that they don’t really care. I know, I sound so pessimistic and negative, right?

Here’s the deal though. Kids answering “I don’t know” is really our own fault (mostly). Some kids are less social and they don’t want to answer even if they did learn something. However, kids may not remember what they learned because we didn’t boil the truth down to one essential point. We didn’t make it memorable. We didn’t present it in a way that amazed and shocked them. We didn’t clarify enough to say, “When your parents say, ‘what did you learn today?’ you can simply answer, ‘Mom and Dad, I learned ______!'”

I think we have an opportunity here.

Have you ever asked the automatic “how are you?” question and been shocked out of your daze by an answer you didn’t expect? Sometimes for fun, I’ll answer the automatic “how are you? question with “TERRIBLE!” They’re shocked as they didn’t expect that answer… it usually makes the moment funny and memorable.

What if we worked hard to create memorable experiences just like this? What if we worked hard to make sure that every kid (well, as many as we could) got the message so well, they could communicate what they learned in a short & profound statement. What if the statement was a little unusual? What if it was at times funny or at other times a little shocking? Play this one out with me.

“Julie, what did you learn in church today?”

“Mom, I learned that the Bible tastes like tacos!”

“You learned what?” 

“Well, not really, but we did learn in Psalms that God’s word is sweeter than honey… but I prefer tacos! God’s word is like food and it helps be grow.”

Okay, it’s an unusual conversation… but it would be memorable. It would demonstrate that something was taught and something was learned. Also, it’s an answer that a parent wouldn’t expect. It causes the parent to ask further questions which is great for helping parents engage their kids. Lastly, it further cements learning for a kid because now they’re communicating/teaching information. Wow, what a concept.

Many parents come back to church or are driven to attend church because they want something better for their kids. Some parents want their kids to have an experience similar to what they had. If you want a family to stick, help the kids answer their parent’s question in a way they’re not expecting.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up this little conversation with some questions we should ask ourselves about these two most significant questions.