a new name for attraction children’s ministry!

A few friends and I were talking the other day about churches that have a great children’s show (not necessarily a great children’s ministry). my friend recently started attending such a church, and admitted that, while he struggles with the theology behind the program and so much else, it’s just so easy.

We got talking about the play places and puppet theaters and air hockey tables and prize counter (with coupons to trade in for candy and toys, given out for various do-good behaviors) and loud pop music and video screens and multiple gaming systems and…

And he accidentally coined a brilliant term. He meant to say it was like chuck e. cheese. But he said it was chuck e. church.

Yes. Chuck e. church. so many possibilities. (for you non-americans, chuck e. cheese is a restaurant chain that pulls kids in — and their parents — with nice play structures, video games and those kinds of games that give little tickets that can be exchanged for crap prizes, as well as horrid pizza.) I’m sure the animatronic kiddie worship band of furry animals singing pharaoh, pharaoh can’t be far from happening.

13 thoughts on “a new name for attraction children’s ministry!”

  1. LOL….Chuck e Church. As a former children’s pastor, I love it.

    What would you call the youth group equivilant though? Children’s ministry uses (and I mean “use” in the worst way possible) the cultural items kids connect with. Youth ministry does the same, they are just different items.

  2. The name captures the trend…and annoying trend it is. I just completed seven years in college ministry and, can I say, attraction ministry does not produce disciples. It produces consumers. It’s dangerous.

    Thanks for the post…and thanks to your friend for accidentally creating the perfect designation.

  3. FINALLY, somebody said it! I’m in elementary ministry and we have decided as a whole (meaning leaders and volunteers) that we are tired of the constant “entertain me” attitude of kids today. Instead, we are transitioning to a “involve me” attitude through student leaders (yes, it can happen in elementary ministry too), small groups that meet in homes throughout the week and worship is starting to be student-driven as well (which means David Crowder and Audio Adrenaline’s “Big House” all the way). Funny thing is, we took away the game systems back in December…and now the kids don’t evennotice they are gone. We have a basketball goal, but we use it as a team building activity…and yes, it keeps the kids occupied too! I’d love to hear what other ministries are doing…
    Marko, quit slamming childrens ministry!

  4. Okay…I’ll bite. I’d LOVE for my kids to look forward to Sunday morning instead of asking me, “Do we have to go to church?”

    While the pendulum swings far and wide, I wonder where the happy medium is between using media and fun and games and having Ma Fricker teach with her trusty flannel graph.

  5. ken — no one’s saying it’s not a good thing for kids to look forward to sunday morning. yes, that is nice. the problem is: the pragmatism of “do whatever it takes to get kids to love coming” has theological/ecclesiological, consumeristic, spiritual formation, and “what’s the future we’re creating?” implications, big time. so, yes, if kids are ONLY excited about coming to church because it’s the same as going to chuck e. cheese, then something is considerably wrong on many levels.

  6. This is a good reminder that we need to make sure our fun, kid-friendly environments are backed up with solid teaching and good theology and a biblical vision for spiritual formation! Thanks from a kids ministry person who likes to read your youth ministry blog!

  7. Wow! Marko, Hey man, take a look at alot of the old YS stuff, what was it about, FUN, create fun enviroment to attract teens, have a game room,etc.
    Children’s ministry has just been slow to catch up.
    I think most of us CM’s are trying to create an enviroment that kids identify as something for them, not teens or adults. A place to feel safe, bring their friends and meet Jesus.
    Don’t assume just because there are video games the thats the only reason they are excited about coming to church.

  8. I think you need both. The problem lies in the extremes of both sides. Kids are kids they need to have a good time. Church should be fun, but you should also preach the Word in a powerful relevant way.

  9. tom — you must be new to my blog. i have pointed that finger to the youth ministry world in general, and to ys in specific, dozens of times. my post was not a hypocritical slam of children’s ministry, but more of a funny anecdote about a conversation that acknowledges that other ministry areas in the church are often caught in the same attractional trap that youth ministry has been caught in for four or more decades.

    fun is wonderful. god created fun. our ministries should value fun. that wasn’t the point of the post at all.

  10. As sad as this concept of “Chuck E Church” may be, there is so much truth to it.I am a children’s pastor and I see it all too often. It seems as though many churches will do anything to draw children in, including forgetting what it is all about. We’ve recently shifted our focus on Sunday mornings from a consumer type class to a hands-on and involved class. We used to use video-based curriculum in hopes of hooking the kids, but after 2 years of entertaining them, we realized that the meat was missing on Sunday mornings. I want kids who love Jesus and know His Word and love church b/c they feel loved and connected, not kids who come and watch a movie and then go home thinking, “that was fun”…

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