The Heart of the Matter

Our last series here on Leader Pipeline discussed how to prepare a lesson or a message. One of the recurring ideas I came across as I met with our pastors was the importance of having one central theme behind everything you share.

This is nothing new for Kidmin people, of course! In fact, if there’s one thing we’re good at it’s boiling down a big message into something small and bite-sized. After all, we have to make sure we are age-appropriate in what and how we present things. If you give kids a list of things to “take away” from your message, that list will be left at the door on their way out. Instead, we give them one ponder point and build everything around it.

Someone recently asked me a simple but loaded question. “In your opinion, what do you think is the biggest problem in children’s ministry?”

I didn’t even have to think about the answer. It’s our ponder points.

In the name of being age-appropriate, we have chosen to give our kids an action plan every time they leave our ministries.

“I will be kind to others!”

“I will choose to tell the truth!”

Those are both great things, and I want my kids to exhibit those as much as the next guy. But I don’t want to get hung up on the fruit. If our goal is to know Jesus our fruit will follow.

JOHN 15:5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

If our goal is right behavior we’ll end up with nothing but empty hearts.

JOHN 15:6“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Trying to be holy by changing our actions is like trying to grow redder apples by painting them rather than nourishing the tree itself.

Trying to be holy by changing our actions is like trying to grow redder apples by painting them. You’re not actually doing anything to the quality of the apples. They may look better but their taste will remain poor. However, if you invest your time in nourishing the tree itself the quality of the apples will follow.

Does this mean that spiritual fruit doesn’t matter? Of course not! (See Matthew 7:16-18)

We ought to communicate core truths instead of complimentary truths.