"Ultimately, I'd like to see a kids' Bible with Mars Hill illustrators — kinda cool, dark, a lot of the bloody Old Testament stories. The boys'll like it, too. We're gonna do it Mars Hill style." Mark Driscoll
Last year Mark Driscoll, stirred by the Holy Spirit, cast a vision for the Mars Hill family. He began by sharing the following:
"How could we do a better job welcoming children to Jesus cause He says that's part of our ministry? So some months ago the Holy Spirit started stirring in my heart and soul and mind – what could we do to do a better job in children's ministry at Mars Hill? So let me cast a little vision for you that I'm really excited about… We're calling it Mars Hill Kids. It won't happen immediately. It's gonna take some time. But what I want to do is I want to start preparing our children for ministry at age two, O.K.? And here's how I see it. I want what happens in kids' ministry to be a mirror, an age appropriate mirror, of what we do on Sunday and what we do together as a church. And I've reverse engineered it, and the way we're going we're gonna have thousands of kids, which means on Sundays scattered across what shortly will be four states, God willing, we would need 400 Sunday School teachers to give age appropriate lectures to a few thousand children. That's impossible to do with quality assurance across the board. But we are a video church, so I thought well what if…"
Here is what he said.
Mark Driscoll's vision became a reality this year as Mars Hill made this announcement:
"Last spring, Pastor Mark laid out a grand vision for the future of kids’ ministry at Mars Hill. This Sunday, January 8, Mars Hill Kids will roll out the first edition of our brand-new kids’ curriculum: Doctrine for Kids. In this post, Kids’ Ministry and Curriculum Director Chrissie Wright gives a preview for parents of what to expect with the new series, including some joyful, kid-appropriate music from one of our favorite bands."
That 'favorite band' that is helping kids ROCK OUT while learning Bible verses is called The Rizers. Can you believe it?! The band has its very own Facebook page! Here is a brief description that can be found there.
"We are the Rizers, we’re gonna rize up and praise God!
We are memoRizers, we’re gonna hide God’s Word in our hearts!"
"We are The Rizers, a band that sings Scripture verses in the form of upbeat, kid-friendly music. Our name is short for "memorizers"- oh snap!"
Allow me to introduce you to these imaginary band members:
* Gracie the spunky energetic lead singer of The Rizers
* Mattie C. the leader of the Rizers
* A-Yo the cool kat drummer
* Mei Mei – the quiet one who can really belt it out when performing
* Johnny Danger – the "I am Third" kinda guy (God first, others second and himself third)
The Rizers also have a website that includes the following information: "Super Big Robot, LLC is a Seattle, Washington based media and entertainment company whose mission is to encourage children and families in their relationship with Jesus Christ."
I have never heard of The Rizers or "Super Big Robot, LLC", so I watched the following video featuring the musical artists behind the band:
In order to demonstrate how The Rizers are being used in the kids' ministry at Mars Hill, here is the song that was featured on January 8, 2012. It is based on Psalm 136:2-4 and focuses on the Trinity:
Now that you have an understanding of Mark Driscoll's "vision" for the kids' ministry at Mars Hill, let's take a look at an article published on January 31, 2012, in The Stranger entitled "Church or Cult: The Control-Freaky Ways of Mars Hill". Here is an excerpt that addresses the grooming of Martian kids:
"Whatever the controversies, Driscoll shows nothing but confidence in himself and in the future of Mars Hill, including a plan for the next generation called "Mars Hill Kids." "I want to start preparing our children for ministry at age 2," he said in a video last summer. He has proposed building a "Nickelodeon-type studio" to broadcast kids' shows and indoor play structures at every Mars Hill property to attract kids, "especially the boys, the kinesthetic learners, so they can get a little activity." (Imagine being the gay kid—or the kid everyone thinks is gay—at that playground.)
There would be special child worship time conducted by adults and handpicked child apprentices. That cadre of children would grow up through the ranks, studying a children's version of Doctrine, along with DVD classes and Doctrine-related homework to ensure, Driscoll says, "an integration between church and home." Driscoll has also said he wants to commission a new illustrated children's Bible. "Kinda cool, dark, a lot of the bloody Old Testament stories so the boys'll like it, too," he said on one video, winking. "We're gonna do it Mars Hill–style."
The point of Mars Hill Kids, Driscoll says, is continuity:
So that when the kids grow up, they don't do like most kids and just leave after high school, but they realize: "Well, I'm ready for the Doctrine class. I can become a member. I've been doing this curriculum since I was 2! Of course I'm going to join a community group: I've been in one since I've been in a diaper. And I know how to sing songs, and I'm okay with video because that's what I've been doing for a really long time—so I'm an old-school, 18-year-old veteran."
What does it mean that Driscoll imagines keeping people, who've been studying his Doctrine from the age of 2, in Mars Hill after high school? Does he want to keep kids from growing up and moving away from Seattle to go to college, start jobs, and begin their own lives? Or does he imagine that, in 20 years, Mars Hill churches will be everywhere?
Either way, Driscoll imagines his flock—the membership model, the community groups, the Doctrine—as permanent. Womb to tomb. Just as long as you don't ask too many questions."
Between us, Dee and I have raised five children who, by the grace of God, have ALL embraced the Christian faith. As we were training our children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" during those formative years, we saw many gimmicks and programs designed to draw children to Jesus Christ. Based on our experience, here is what we believe to be true:
– Scripture is very clear – there is no magic formula for raising children in the faith. We have seen godly kids come out of crappy homes and rebellious kids come out of godly homes.
– Parents and church leaders cannot force anyone to be a Christian. Calvinists above all should know that.
– Children are not robots! One formulaic program will not work for everyone (male and female).
This 'bloody' Calvinist Mark Driscoll (Justin Brierley – that one's for you!) doesn't seem to grasp that David and Goliath stories have been preached to little boys for a long time. What makes him think that his program will make a difference in keeping young men in church?
Remember Macho Man Mark Driscoll's claim – if you get the men you get everything and if you don't get them you get NOTHING!
Yeah, Mark, we get it. Girls are NOTHING to you. Don't try to deny it – your actions speak louder than words.
Based on Driscoll's presentation, we believe the target market of this new kids' ministry (to use 'business' lingo) is BOYS. Yep, it's boyz to men. We are saddened for parents of girls at Mars Hill. We believe this approach will be detrimental to them. Furthermore, we predict that this program will be no more successful than anything that has come before. We are seeing an increasing disdain for the organized church, resulting in people (even Christians) flocking away.
Now that Driscoll has taken charge of Acts 29, and he will likely be distributing this formulaic program to churches in that network. This program has yet to be proven, and we are dumbfounded that those who are selling it appear to have young families, including the Driscolls. It will be years before we know whether such a program has been effective with their children or others. In the meantime, lots of music, tee shirts, and paraphernalia will likely be sold.
Why is Martin Luther suddenly coming to mind? Sadly, not much has changed since Luther's day. The indulgence preachers are still around peddling their stuff to unsuspecting souls – it's just that they've adopted a new marketing gimmick.
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 42:1-44:23 2 Timothy 2:1-21 Psalm 92:1-93:5 Proverbs 26:3-5