Last night, as I was setting up for my speaking/juggling presentation at Crosspointe Church in Norman, Oklahoma, my host wanted to make sure I was going to really teach the Bible rather than just entertain and then briefly mention the Bible at the end. He told me how he has seen some entertainers simply do something flashy for 45 minutes and then talk about the Bible for the final 5 minutes of their program. This was my first time at this church and he wanted to let me know that this is a Bible-believing church that wants to sow God’s Word into the community in a way that is both solid on truth and engaging for the kids.
I have heard this feedback before. Over the past 14 years of performing a juggling/variety arts show that teaches about the Bible, the most common feedback I get is not about my tricks and stunts, but rather about the way the Word is woven through the entire program.
You see, I’m not a juggler who teaches about the Bible. I’m a Bible teacher who juggles. Sure, I sometimes perform for non-faith related events like public schools, community festivals, malls, birthday parties, community theaters, etc. But I get the greatest satisfaction and sense of living out my God-given destiny when I get to teach people about theology and the Bible. Since I can juggle and do other stupid human tricks, I simply use those skills as communication tools. In other words, the juggling is a means to an end, not the end itself. The end goal is teaching solid Biblical truth.
So what does this feedback tell me? Stick to the Word. God’s Word is timeless and true. I don’t have to make up material. It’s all right there in the Bible. When I teach kids, I know that it’s hard to go wrong with the message if I simply stick to the Bible. My message falls flat if I just speak from my own human knowledge. Whether you do creative tricks to illustrate it or not, stick to the Word when you teach others about the Bible.
My friend and mentor Roger Fields has a great analogy for this. He said that with teaching the Bible to kids, you need to both build a bridge and turn on the light. Some children’s ministries simply build bridges (entertain and play games all day) without turning on the light (introducing the kids to Christ and God’s Word). Other ministries simply turn on the light (teach Biblical truth) with no bridge building, meaning that they teach in such a dry, age-irrelevant manner that the kids are either asleep, distracted, or both. Roger says you need both a good bridge (speaking kid-language, which is basically the language of play) and a good light (solid Bible teaching).