Everyone loves a good story, right? With the right delivery, a story can be greatly entertaining. Or curling up reading a good story by the fireplace is a great way to pass the time. However, I will not teach the Christmas Story again.
If you have never been to the Ark Encounter or Creation Museum, a part of Answers in Genesis in Kentucky, I suggest you make the trip. The Ark is actually built to scale, the same size Noah built his ark. The inside is incredible—if you have ever wondered how Noah fit so many animals in his ark, the Ark Encounter makes it clear, there was plenty of room. There may have even been room for more!
So what does the Ark encounter have to do with the Story of Jesus birth?
Well, one major premise of Answers in Genesis is the way the evolutionists target the very foundation of Christian Faith. If the enemy can convince us that the Book of Genesis is not true, then why would the rest of the Bible be true?
The history of Noah is full of sin, death and destruction, on a global scale. Why then is Noah’s Ark the theme of so many children’s areas and nurseries? It doesn’t make too much sense to me. Think about the last time you saw a depiction of Noah’s Ark. You are probably thinking of a brightly colored painting, with a rainbow in the sky, a little boat, and a handful of animals standing on the deck of the ship, with Noah and his wife waving at you. That doesn’t exactly sound realistic to me.
Why I will not teach the Christmas story again
When we teach Bible Stories, we are setting the stage for some very subtle subconscious thoughts. In The Story of Noah, we get the main points in the picture (the boat, the rainbow, two of every animal) but the representation is not very realistic.
A story, by definition, is a fictional narrative, a legend or a fable. In fact there is only one definition of the word story that I found includes a true or factual series of events. Other than that, the word story implies fiction, something not true. There is even one definition that means a lie or falsehood!
It was an eye-opening revelation to me. When we teach Bible Stories to our kids, we may be subliminally implying that the events we are talking about never happened.
Why are kids leaving their faith?
If the enemy is able to cast doubt on the validity of the Bible and the history of events contained inside, he is effectively cracking the very foundation of our faith. As our kids grow up, if we are not careful, we may find those cracks growing, to the point that somewhere in high school or college that foundation will crumble and our kids will walk away from their faith. Rather than take Answers in Genesis at their word, I did some of my own research. I read several studies and some of the data is alarming:
88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18
In one study, an answer given for why they left faith behind was “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.”
Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.
61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged.
One major reason people abandon their faith is: They left because they had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college.
Eye Opening Barna Research
Barna’s most comprehensive research study investigating the perceptions, experiences and motivations of 13- to 18-year-olds in Generation Z, reports the following:
59% of students in this age group Identify as Christian or Catholic (down from 75% for “Elders”). 21% say they are atheist or agnostic (up from 11% for “Elders’). 14% say they have no religious affiliation (up from 9% for “Elders”) 2. Students in this age group offer the following “barriers to faith”:
“I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world” (29%) b. “Christians are hypocrites” (23%) c. “I believe science refutes too much of the Bible” (20%) d. “I don’t believe in fairy tales (19%) e. “There are too many injustices in the history of Christianity” (15%) f. “I used to go to church but it’s not important to me anymore” (12%) g. “I had a bad experience at church with a Christian” (6%)
The above research findings and quotes were taken from http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/ In the article, there are many, many studies that are mentioned, including research from Southern Baptist Convention, Lifeway, Assemblies of God, Josh McDowell, George Barna and more. If you have time, you should check it out. If nothing else, the findings tell us there is a real enemy that is fighting for our kids. We have a huge responsibility to our kids to help them own their faith, to help them build a strong foundation, so they will be able to stand strong and not give in.
As parents and ministry workers, part of our responsibility includes helping our kids build their own spiritual foundation. As the above research shows, the enemy is out to destroy this foundation, which means, more than ever, we need to be intentional about what we say and what we teach.
By teaching ‘bible stories’ are we unintentionally contributing to the cracks in the spiritual foundation of our kids?
A few things to remember:
Your kids will have questions.
Your response to these questions will impact your child’s beliefs. Too often we think the spiritual response is ‘because that’s what God wanted’, or ‘we just have to have faith’. I don’t know about you, but sometimes having faith as an adult is difficult. If it’s hard for me, I can’t imagine how difficult it could be for a child. (Check out an article here on how to teach your kid’s about faith).
It’s ok to be honest with your kids. If you don’t have an answer to their question, work together to find the answer. How you approach their questions will have an impact on what they believe (or don’t believe).
Science and the Bible really do match up.
Too often, we are uninformed and fail to do our own research. When scientists make claims, we do not have enough knowledge to know whether they are right or wrong. That sometimes means we can tend to believe their claims. Answers in Genesis has lots of materials available that will help you see how science and the bible actually work together, not against each other. Being better prepared for the questions our kids have will help their foundation stay strong in the midst of the information they are inundated with. We need to help them be informed with truth, and help them find answers to their questions. If we don’t help them, someone else will help them, potentially convincing them that the lies are truth.
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Romans 1:25
So that is why I won’t teach the Christmas Story again, or the Easter Story. Or the Story of Noah. Or any other Bible Story for that matter. I want to be intentional about helping our kids build a strong spiritual foundation. I will instead choose to teach the History of the First Christmas. And the Truth about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. And how Noah Saved the World. Or any number of different ways to phrase it. I will now be mindful that the words I choose knowing they may contribute to small cracks in the spiritual foundation of someone else.
Will you continue to teach Bible Stories? Am I overthinking the whole subject? Post a comment and let me know what you think.
I stopped using the word “story” when teaching the Biblical record to kids about 15 years ago for many of the same issues you discuss in you article. My concern increased when I remembered that a number of parents, teachers etc. say to children “Are you telling a story?” As though that phrase is used synonymously with “Are you telling a lie?”
You came up with some terms I had not thought of before. I have used “record” or “account.”
Thank you for this article.
Thanks for reading Steve. “Record” and “Account” are great words to use.
I stopped calling the people of the Bible “characters” for the same reason.
That never occurred to me— ‘characters’ has the same implication as ‘story’. Thanks Matt
We always make sure not to call them stories or characters as well: we also reinforce after every lesson that the Bible is TRUE and is not a bunch of made up stories. Everything in the Bible is true.
Exactly. It is all true. Funny how the words we choose- calling them stories or characters- can possibly take away from that truth and cause doubt. Thanks for reading David.
Were you told a Bible story as a kid? Did the teacher talk about the characters in the story? Did you see cartoons and such that also described the story and the characters? My point being, yes, I’ve been to the Ark Encounter. I suggest everyone everyone should go there at some point. I saw the whole section on the children’s books. I was deeply intrigued by it. There is definitely sincer truth to it. However, you stated that it’s hard to have faith as an adult and you questioned how hard it might be for a child. There are many verses throughout the Bible that tells adults they should believe like a child, have faith of a child. Fact is those Bible Stories you now won’t tell were the basis of your faith and millions more before you. I agree we should be cautious but we should always Love to tell the story, just as you love to tell stories of your past and your ancestors. Tell the story!! Tell it just like you do when you’re taking about what happened yesterday at work! Tell the story as if you were there
because when you go to calvary, it will change you, and you will tell the story with great vigor. Just my thought.
I think you missed the OP’s intention. He did not write he won’t teach these things, but that he wouldn’t address then as “stories.” At the end of his post he makes it clear that he will teach about Jesus’s birth, death, Noah, etc.
Stories they are and stories they will remain. Stories are powerful and connect to the heart. I talk to my kids all the time about the difference between TRUE stories and made up stories but there are stories for a reason. If you want to teach facts that don’t touch the heart, go ahead and teach history (I for one always despised history class). If you want to change hearts, keep telling the stories that really matter.
Thanks for reading Eric. There’s have been many comments on Facebook with people distinguishing between a story and a “true story”. Like you say, there is a major difference between truth and make believe. If we are intentional with explaining that, that’s great. My concern is: if we aren’t intentional, our choice of words and lack of explaination may unintentionally and unconsciously lead to cracks in someone’s spiritual foundation.
You are not overthinking the issue of young people abandoning Jesus and His Church. Using words precisely is very important, and failing to be precise, and also at a kid’s level of understanding,can contribute to a child having doubts about what they were taught.
I appreciate the points you try to make here about importance of passing on our Christian faith to the next generation — and specifically to our own kids.
I think, however, you’re getting tripped up over the word “story” or “stories”. Yes people today hear different things when stories are told. Because of rampant unbelief in the supernatural, stories from the past are treated like myths. It’s as if history didn’t begin until 1960.
But this is a problem of secular education, not of stories that tell truths of the past. Jesus Himself told stories all the time to convey truths, called parables. The parables weren’t what caused people to not believe then just as stories don’t today. It’s always been the Enemy that steals away the seeds of faith.
I suggest the problem we face today is the onslaught of attacks against truth in most public education and even some Christian schiols. Parents should take extreme care where their children are learning their “stories”. I recommend parents teach their children at home or where they know teachers who teach both the truths of Christian stories along with the Truth Himself. That’s the most intentional thing any Christian parent can do in these evil days.
Excellent commentary. There is so much focus on the words we use, and communicating specific ideas requires preciseness. I also cringe at the use of “story” to describe Biblical events, for that same reason. We Christians have the greatest news to share, and we must share it with care and precision.
The word “story” is also part of the word “History”. Usage is important, but we can make it clear to those we are teaching or sharing with that what we share is history, or true-story. Interestingly, many movies based on historical events will state “based on a true story”.
There’s another aspect to this. Children learn about our great forgiving, merciful, kind, enduring God thru our lives, our actions, and our words. Our attitudes, our willingness to ask forgiveness, to be real, transparent- all these things – show our children and others the true reality of our God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. I know kids that were at church for every event, heard all the stories but rejected the faith because the parents were just living a religious life, without any of the truth or how God directs us to live by power in His Holy Spirit. When someone talks the launguage but doesn’t live the truth, it can be devastating causing others to reject a Christianity that is not truly seen. So, teach those ‘stories’, tell the stories as true, but live the spirit filled life, asks no forgivness humbly when you fail, and showing love to all. Then our children will be captured by our faith and see the reality of it. The stories aren’t so hard to believe when they are happening to us in our everyday life.
When I (we) Teach prayerfully you are telling the chidren this is God’s word. And it’s true. I also believe that they are bible characters
God created individuals that have different characteristics. From God just like you and me. I mean what man says he’ll follow Jesus to his death then dents him that’s quite a character. Teach them the living word.
Great read. Thank you. I used to always say “you make up an excuse,, but reason is the truth”.
We make excuses, or, tell stories, when we are on the spot and don’t have an answer. It has become part of the fabric of society. I had a pastor, he told us, when I am front and center behind the pulpit, I am speaking directly from scripture, but if I step aside from the pulpit, I am giving you my opinion.
Thanks for reading Simon. I really like the visual your pastor gave you concerning Bible and Opinion. The two often intersect, especially when our opinion is based on the Bible, but it is good to distinguish between them both. It is even more important to remember when teaching kids.