Internet daily comic for Chinese youth

For anyone who has contact with young Chinese people this new online daily comic, Little Fish,  will be of interest. As the Digital Evangelism Issues says: “This story-telling approach is designed to redemptively engage with Chinese young people. Tell your Chinese friends (in appropriate sensitive terms)”

It certainly seems to have characters which encapsulate the problems and attitudes of modern young people. There is an English version too. Perhaps there are youngsters in your group that would enjoy and benefit from this thought-provoking series.

Connecting with Bible culture

Catherine and I recently visited two wonderful museums.

Two museums

One was the site of the remains of a Roman fort in Northern England, near Hadrian’s Wall. Here, at Segedunum, North Shields, we saw outlines of the stony foundations of the soldier’ barracks, the stables, groom’ quarters, a granary and the central praetorium, or commander’s house.

We were guided round the ancient ruins by means of an audio explanation, which seemed to bring it all to life. We were also fortunate to see a reconstructed bath house and a mock up of a stable, so we got a glimpse of what life was like in the barracks for the weary soldiers returning from patrol.
Inside, the museum presented artefacts which the archaeologists had found on the site. Among them we saw pieces of cavalry tack and equipment, and religious items. One very interesting room was given over to medical instruments. We were told what operations they were used for and how various ailments were treated by the doctors. It all made us think of our lives today, and we compared our situation with the Romans of a thousand years ago. Somehow we felt connected with them.

In contrast, some months later we visited another eminent museum. It also housed Roman artefacts and some stunning medieval pieces, including jewellery. But this time, there was only a limited effort made to set the find in context. There was no audio guide and the labels on the cases were not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity about what we were seeing.

Wonderful as the displays were, that second museum seemed to miss what the first one had given us – a sense of connection, the ability to identify with some of the items and the people behind them. The Roman culture was very different from ours, yet we felt affection for these people.

Four questions:

  1. How do we relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the children we teach, and to their families?
  2. How do we show that the message of the Bible is relevant for today, for their lives as well as for those of a people who lived over 2000 years ago?
  3. Do we engender a sense of reality about the characters we talk about?
  4. Do the children feel a connection, an affection even, for them?

We can make the connection between two cultures:

  1. If we ensure that our teaching is not only “a Bible story” (good as it is to convey a true narrative) but something more.
  2. If we explain the life-principles behind the narrative, not in a dry, legalistic way, but in a way that engages the children’s interest.
  3. If we ask God to help us see situations and scenarios that the kids are familiar with, and use them to help the children connect the Bible principles with their own 21st century youth culture.

Apart from covering everything in prayer and trusting God to anoint our ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit, is there anything else you would suggest which would help us to put Scripture into today’s context for kids?

Kids and parents from outside the church

Do we make children from outside the church feel welcome?What if some of the children in your meeting have no family in the church? What if Christian church life is a foreign culture to them? How can you relate Bible principles to their life experience? And how might you engage their parents with the Christian message, so that they feel welcome and comfortable in church?

Reaching beyond the church walls, out into a culture which is not familiar with Christianity, is not easy. But Gary Newton has tackled these issues in a thoughtful and thorough way, over at ChristianMinistry.com.

There is a lot of food for thought in Drop Off or Drop Out? Spare five minutes to check it out. And if you have longer, there’s a wealth of good things elsewhere on the site.

How to make kids smile

Catherine and I have always tried to improve our communication skills. One way to open ourselves up to learn more about this topic is to see how professional communicators think and work.

Nora Reed, in a blog post for professional logo designers, asks the question:

Is your logo design capable of making your customers SMILE? 
Simple
Memorable
Inviting
Limited in references
Exciting

What better goal could we have with the kids (or indeed teens or adults) we teach?

  • Simple: one or at the most two teaching points clearly explained and repeated in different ways
  • Memorable: using illustrations that make the link from what they know to what we hope they will learn; having physical activities and worksheets that reinforce the main teaching point of the lesson;  using music to sing the truths into their memories and hearts; modelling in our own lives the truths we want them to remember
  • Inviting: a warm, caring, environment with fun, that draws them back week after week; where discipline is fair and every child has a chance to enjoy the class or meeting without hindrance; where they are known and welcomed by name.
  • Limited in references: for the advertiser that meant not copying or echoing too many other products. That could confuse the customer and sully the uniqueness of the branding.
    For us it could simply mean what it says – not bamboozling our kids by referring to too many Bible references in one lesson. It’s okay to paraphrase now and again, in language the children understand. Of course, we always make it plain that the Bible is our source. As points 1 and 2 say, we want to be simple and memorable.
  • Exciting: no need to spell out that one. If we are excited and enthusiastic, that will communicate to the kids. If we are fresh, varied and even unpredictable in our programme, that will excite them too.

There are many ways to make our children SMILE.  This is just  my first reaction to seeing  Nora’s tip for good communication. What would you like to add to the list?

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