Vegetables Are for Eating

“Eat your vegetables!”

Most of us grew up hearing this command repeated multiple times throughout the course of an evening meal. Our parents ingrained in us the reality that vegetables are part of a healthy diet.

If you’ve raised children in the last 10-15 years, however, you may have set your children down in front of a different kind of vegetable. You know, the computer-animated kind. I’m talking about VeggieTales, the lovable, wildly popular video series that recreates Bible stories from the perspective of a crowd of talking vegetables.

I think that last sentence is worth pondering for a moment. A bunch of cartoon vegetables are telling Bible stories. For good or bad, nothing even close to this has ever been available to Christian parents until very recently. Centuries of Christian parenting are giving way to something unique, and that ought to give us pause.

Obviously, the Bible doesn’t address computer animated Christian Education directly, and I’m won’t pretend to have the whole issue figured out. My goal is simply to give you a few things to think about as you try to disciple your children:

  • Fun vs. Boring: a False Dilemma. For some reason, many Christians think that there are two basic approaches to discipling children: fun and boring. Christian publishers often have an economic interest in promoting this understanding (“If your kids don’t learn the Bible the fun way–our way–they’ll be so bored that they’ll hate church!”). However, these simply aren’t the only two options. I would argue that “fun” is not the word we would use to describe our greatest joys. The day I got married was one of the greatest of my life. It was profound, inspiring, intensely emotional; “fun” just doesn’t do it justice. The ideal day in children’s ministry (or family devotions) goes way beyond fun. Kids, like adults, long for something transcendent and meaningful. That’s how we’re made. If we never make the leap beyond fun, we fail to show the all-surpassing significance of God. That’s scary.
  • Head vs. Heart: a False Dichotomy. Much has been made about the difference between “head-knowledge” and “heart-knowledge.” This is a helpful distinction, but it doesn’t mean that the head and the heart are totally separate from one another. My point is that the means by which one gains head-knowledge does affect the heart. The medium is part and parcel of the message. Is it possible that learning Bible truth from the mouth of a talking tomato could send a confusing message about the importance, or even the truthfulness, of the Bible itself?
  • Don’t Sell Your Kids Short. Most parents believe their children are very clever (I’m no exception). The fact is that they are. The mind of even the smallest infant is drinking in incredible amounts of information each waking moment. Given this fact, I find it odd that many parents assume their children will have no interest in grasping the most important truths they could possibly know. You may find it helpful to pop in a VeggieTales DVD. But don’t assume you’d be lost without it. And please don’t assume that your kids are getting everything they need. They need your input and instruction in the ways and works and wonders of God. Which leads me to my final point…
  • Don’t Shirk You Responsibility. Deuteronomy 6 is unmistakably clear. The primary responsibility of nurturing children in the ways of God falls on Mom and Dad. You can’t delegate that to someone else. You must have God’s Words in your heart. You must teach them diligently to your children. You must talk about them when you get up and when you lie down, and when you’re going about your daily duties. That’s a command from God Himself.

At the very least, don’t assume that VeggieTales or any other snazzy program can replace intentional, lived-out, profound, biblical instruction directly from your mouth. It can’t. Ask God to help you obey His command to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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  1. […] Vegetables are for Eating […]

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