Kids eat with their eyes.
If their pizza doesn't come in the right shape, it's rejected.
If their mac and cheese is the wrong color, it's refused.
If their portion of pasta is too large, it's rubbish.
When food doesn't look the way it's supposed to look, we get suspicious. Some even get sick.
It's the exact same food. It has the exact same taste.
It just has a different presentation.
Did you know that carrots come in colors other than orange?
At least not until one of my friends posted the above picture on his social accounts last summer.
My mind was blown.
Then later that summer, I read that orange carrots didn't even exist until the 17th Century. Shocker! A group of Dutch farmers honored their king, William of Orange by developing carrots in their country's color...orange.*
That's true patriotism!
I thought I was doing good by buying an Old Navy flag tee once a year. I guess I was wrong.
Presentation matters not only in the food preparation but also when it comes to teaching kids the Bible.
A purple carrot tastes exactly the same as an orange carrot. Nothing about the carrot has changed except it's appearance or in another term, it's presentation.
At Northridge Kids, we are in the presentation business. Not presentation for the sake of presentation itself, but presentation in order to engage the heart and mind of kids and motivate them to acting out the truths of the Bible. This is what we refer to as life change.
We don't think we've done our job when we've merely presented truth. Content by itself is not enough.
Americans live in a culture that's flooded with content. The average elementary student spends an average of 35 hours a week ingesting content from technology on TVs, iPads and gaming devices.
The church has to cut through the cultural clutter by presenting content, biblical truth, that is accurate, clear and compelling. This type of content captures the attention of everyone. Including kids.
Cutting through the cultural clutter is what Disney has been able to do with its princess story lines in movies like Cinderella, Brave and The Little Mermaid. My daughter will sit and watch those movies on repeat all day. Then she'll go and pretend that she is one of those characters. That's engagement! Disney, captures our attention and moves our imagination to action. And they even provide tools that help us engage our imaginations...toys.
While Northridge Kids may never produce a full-length animated movie, we want to tell the stories of the Bible in such a way that kids hear, understand, and are moved to take action on what they hear. We want kids to want to come back every Sunday because they're hearing something unique, the story of God, being told in a unique way.
We want to capture kids' attention in order to tell God's story. And when we do, we call it: engagement.
There are three ways we seek to engage your kids each week.
We think it's a sin to bore kids with the Bible.
Northridge Kids' hosts and storytellers work hard, investing literally hours, to accurately and creatively teach the Bible using technology, illustrations and applications that best makes sense with each kid's stage of life.
When we get this right, kids are able to pay attention to what we're teaching in order to best hear what God is saying.
Every week, the leaders of each of environment selects activities (such as games, role play or crafts) that further illustrate and reinforce the story that was presented.
While we try not to overwhelm parents with too many papers (or popsicle sticks) on any given Sunday, when we do send home a paper or project, please remember that it is a tool that was used in your child's environment to reinforce the story. That craft wasn't merely used to fill the time allotment for that Sunday. These projects, whatever their level of artistic value, can be one more tool you can utilize in your family's weekly rhythm to discuss with you what they learned that week, especially for the preK kids in your house.
When our volunteers and Small Group Leaders talk with the kids in their environments, they are reinforcing the lesson by interacting with and asking questions of each kid. These interactions help: gauge what each child learned, hear how it is impacting them, encourage them to take the next steps and even to pray for courage for your child to obey God.
If you have any questions about what conversations are taking place in your child's environment, ask them, "what did you learn today," on your drive home. Or feel free to ask a volunteer serving in your child's environment at pick up. This connection is one more way we love to demonstrate that we are partners with you, the parent.
Who knows? I may never have the courage to eat purple carrots. The presentation is just too weird for my brain.
Plums are purple. Grapes are purple. Eggplants are purple.
Carrots are orange.
Regardless of what I eat, our commitment to parents at Northridge, our partners, is that we will work as hard as we can to tell the most important story, in the most engaging way possible. And as we prepare, we'll be praying that God will use us to motivate your kids to faith in action.
*Orange Essentials by Reggie Joiner, 30.