Turning Spectators Into Participants 2017-03-07T18:11:00+00:00

It’s not the art of the performance,
but the art of the participation. 
(Leonard Sweet)

rainey600
Bob was bored. Sitting in his house with his three kids on New Years Day, he wondered what there was to do on a day like today for someone who doesn’t watch football. Bob decided to do something crazy. He started a neighborhood parade. He invited all his neighbors to join the parade with one rule: nobody was allowed to watch the parade. He invited them to march in the parade but asked them to close their windows if they decided not to participate. The parade became such a hit that it is now famous after almost 20 years. The rule is still intact: everybody marches; nobody watches. Bob involved everyone.

To me, this illustrates God’s style. The Bible is His journal about how He involves people. Throughout the Bible ordinary people participated in His purposes. And that caused all kinds of problems. That’s the story of the Bible.

This is what surprises me. God went to amazing lengths to include people in His purposes. Except for creation, He rarely did anything by Himself. It seems to me it would have been much easier for God to do most tasks on His own. Instead, he involved people in everything He did. And it always got messy. Always.

Right from the start, God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and gave him a job: naming the animals. God could have named the animals Himself or delegated the task to a low level angel. But no, Adam got that gig. He was a participant in managing the garden, or at least until he got evicted.

Just like with Adam, God regularly turned spectators into participants. Nobody got the luxury of sitting back and watching God do stuff.

  • When He wanted to save a few folks on earth before the flood, He tagged Noah to build a barge. That only took about 100 years.
  • When He wanted to start a special nation, He picked Abraham to begin a family that would launch it. Sarah got a kick out of that crazy idea.
  • When He wanted to get His people out of Egypt, He drafted Moses at the burning bush to pry the people away from Pharaoh. Moses dug his heels in and resisted taking on such a risky project. God persisted until Mo got in the game.
  • When He wanted to kill Goliath, He sent David into the valley to kill him with a slingshot. Why didn’t God simply give Goliath a heart attack? It would have been easier.
  • When He wanted to reach the people of Nineveh, He sent Jonah. That worked out well. *wink
  • When He wanted to send His Son to earth, He could have beamed Jesus down somewhere in the dessert. Instead He involved Mary and Joseph to birth Him into the world. That created all kinds of problems for the young couple.
  • When Jesus wanted to impact Samaria, He rattled a woman at a well with knowledge of her past, and she went into town telling everyone about Him.
  • When He wanted to start churches, He knocked Saul of Tarsus off his horse on his way to Damascus and shaped him into a church-planting machine.

The list is endless. All through the Bible, God relentlessly involved people. He turned them from spectators into participants.

Flash forward 2000 years.

Today everyone is a spectator. People come to church and watch the performance. They listen to the music. They listen to the pastor. A few of them serve in a church department. Most sit.

Turning spectators into participants

Teaching styles reflect this. We teach: kids listen. We show a video: kids watch. We have turned faith into a spectator sport. Adults who attend church do not want to do anything but sit. Why? Maybe it’s because we trained them that way in children’s ministry. Kids are sitters. Adults are sitters. Everyone is a sitter.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

If nothing else, our teaching methods should get kids involved. It should turn spectators into participants.

The good news is that kids WANT to participate. They want to do something. The four most powerful words a kid can hear from you is “I need a volunteer.” Most kids want to raise their hand and do something, anything. Anything…but sit.

So the great news is that kids are already wired to connect with the most effective—and most Biblical—teaching method on the planet: participation. Kids love to participate; participation creates learning. Perfect.

tell me and I will forget

But how do you do that? How do you get kids involved in a learning experience? How do you turn them into participants?

That’s what Kidz Blitz is about. We want to help you do just that.

Roger Fields
President of Kidz Blitz Ministries