To Spank or not to Spank

January 26, 2007

Does punishment work as a form of discipline in today’s world…did it ever?

According to a study published by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, 90% of parents have spanked their children at some point, but 85% of them would rather not have. The study found that most parents operate in a kind of “grey zone” when it comes to physical discipline…not totally for it, nor totally against it. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is not so ambivalent and discourages all forms of corporal punishment.

Everyone agrees that discipline is a critical element in child rearing as parents teach kids to respect rules and limits while taking responsibility for their actions…facing consequences, as appropriate. The AAP reminds parents, however, that discipline does not necessarily mean punishment. As alternatives, parents are encouraged to try positive reinforcement, to enforce “time-outs”, to have kids pay for or work to replace broken or lost items, or to take away privileges. Over time, parents learn which of the disciplinary remedies works best with their children.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that our kids are also Children of God and should be treated that way…with God’s love. When frustration and anger are allowed to become the motivations for disciplinary action, it is more likely that punishment will result. If we establish our relationships with children on a Child of God basis, we will be more likely to set limits and expectations…and hold kids accountable for them…with a loving, nurturing intention that results in an effective approach to discipline, when it’s needed.

Discipline is love in disguise…not a spanking in anger.


Art and Life and Sin

January 26, 2007

Does portraying sin in movies and literature help to illuminate and educate as a means to eliminating it, or does it merely draw attention to and reinforce inappropriate behavior?

A new movie, Hounddog, which was released this week at the Sundance Film Festival, portrays the attack and rape of a young girl played by actress Dakota Fanning. Already the film is surrounded by controversy over the exposure of a young child to such a horrific topic and situation. A number of child rights activists and various Christian organizations have spoken out against the film and the exploitation of the young actress – even to the point of suggesting that it is illegal.

Clearly, the subject represents a vile sin that produces life-changing pain for all involved. And, as a result, it heightens our sensitivities to anything having to do with it…and increases the intensity of our response. But, the sad fact remains that children are attacked and raped in our world. This is a reality that we can and must react to on behalf of children. We don’t need to see a movie or read a book to know that these things happen, and blaming the arts and media for addressing them should not be a primary aspect of our reaction to them.

Our ministry on behalf of children must focus on the prevention of these sinful acts and the elimination of the unhealthy and dehumanizing conditions that perpetuate them. We must help kids become healed from them.

We can debate the role of art in this context, but the role of ministry seems clear. It is to bring the love of Christ to children and to help them grow in it.


Marriage and Raising Children

January 19, 2007

Two important aspects of adult life have become disconnected for many

A post last week on The Clapham Institute’s web site got folks here at LOGOS thinking about marriage and raising children. The article focuses on some painful statistics that indicate an increasing disconnection between raising children and the marriage of mother and father. It also provides some social commentary on the prevalence of this trend. We particularly appreciated author Mike Metzger’s framing of the Biblical foundation for the intended role of these key events in the lives of Christians. Clearly, God’s plan for us includes a monogamous relationship between a man and woman at the center of the child-rearing process.

At LOGOS, we do believe that it takes multiple relationships with caring adults to raise a child effectively (see our post, Raising Kids in a Community), but that does not preclude the presence of a healthy, loving family…including both mother and father. We are troubled that the culture is becoming increasingly desensitized to this growing trend, even to the point of casual acceptance. Let’s not just observe this troubling practice…let’s speak out on the importance of strengthening the link between marriage and raising children for the benefit of kids.

A ministry with children will be more likely to be successful if it is built upon a child’s solid family life.


Girls Should Not be “Gone Wild”

January 12, 2007

Are kids being too sexualized by an uncaring society?

We recently read a New York Times article about young middle school girls performing at a school-sanctioned talent show…as if they were in a music video. link Not just lip-synching to a pop tune, but gyrating and grinding in an eroticized choreography that belied their young age – or did it? The scene apparently made some in the audience want to cry out, “Does your mother know you’re wearing that skimpy outfit and doing that?” Sadly, the answer was actually quite obvious…their parents were in the approving audience and are part of a culture that has come to expect such things from girls today.

At LOGOS we ask, “Who’s teaching our children their values, and are these the behavioral norms that kids should conform to?” Parents and adults with the responsibility to develop children must wake up to the shocking realities that their actions today will likely create in the future…young adults with an unhealthy sense of morality and propriety. This is hardly the stuff of a positive, productive approach to nurturing the Children of God into His disciples.

The early church influenced the culture and shaped the morals of the people. Today the church cannot become disconnected from that role. We must intentionally work to reverse this trend toward the society advocating “anything goes” if we are to build a community based on the kingdom of God and develop young Christians as life-long disciples.


A Model for Effective Ministry

January 5, 2007

Effective ministries are typically built on three primary dimensions

Based on our 43 years of experience working with churches to develop and grow children’s ministries, LOGOS has observed that most of the truly effective ones share characteristics in three key areas:

• Purposeful The congregation demonstrates a clear understanding of why the ministry is “right” for the church and how it is intended to support the church’s broader mission. The ministry is driven by a strategic vision.

• Practical
The congregation has an effective plan and approach for implementing and sustaining the ministry, and has assembled the resources necessary to support it.

• Productive The ministry is focused on achieving results that fulfill the vision, meet the objectives, and support the congregation’s intent.

Within each of these dimensions, LOGOS has developed specific criteria that can be used to facilitate ministry planning and development, and to guide problem solving. We have found that effective ministry does not just happen…it takes the focused intentions of a congregation.

Is your children’s ministry positioned to be effective? How does it rate on these three criteria?