Saturday, July 7, 2007

What's Wrong With a Lamb's Message?

One of the comments from my last post - from my wife - asked what is wrong with a lamb's message. I must admit that I just threw that in there as an example of something confessional Lutherans seem to disagree with. I got this idea just from reading other blogs. Can someone more knowledgeable give an answer to this question? Why do confessional Lutherans have an aversion to a lamb's message?


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

I personally don't have a problem with the "lamb's message", but I've seen pastors try to oversimplify their message for kids and forget about Jesus.

Of course, it can happen in the sermon too, and nobody's saying we should get rid of that. :)

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

By the way, I prefer a lamb's message to kicking kids out of Divine Service and having them go to a separate "Children's/Junior Church."

Tim the Enchanter said...

Is a Lamb's message a 'children's sermon' where kids march down to sit in front for an object lesson? Or is it something else?


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I don't think children's sermons are un-Confessional in and of themselves. As a matter of fact, such things are mentioned in the Confessions. I don't know how they were accomplished in Reformation times, but in his Large Catechism on the 2nd article of the creed, Luther writes:

"But to explain all these single points separately belongs not to brief sermons for children, but rather to the ampler sermons that extend throughout the entire year, especially at those times which are appointed for the purpose of treating at length of each article—of the birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension of Christ, etc."

I think the question is really well asked by Tim above. What is the content and purpose of the children's message? One of the problems with children's sermons today is that the way they are often done they feed the mistaken impression that "regular church" is for the adults.

God's Word has a power all its own. I'll agree that many sermons can be above the heads of little ones, but the Word of God contained in them is NOT. I believe in sermons made for all ears. Sermons should be for everyone, including the children and the handicapped.

Not everyone is going to catch every little nugget that is in the sermon, but there should be something for everyone to chew on included in what comes from the pulpit. In this way, we see that God's Word and the preaching of it does not have to be neatly compartmentalized into "children's sermons" and "adult sermons." Even Bible study can be food for every age. My kids attend both church and Bible study with mom and dad.

I'm not in favor of segregating people by age, which is a terrible cultural problem we currently suffer from. For this reason, I am generally against children's sermons. I'm sure they can be done right. Whatever the case, we need to be bringing children back to our churches, not for children's sermons but for the complete divine service!

In some churches, I know the habit is for some parents to have their children come to the divine service for the "lambs message" and then return to the nursery while we adults have "church." This segregation of children away from the divine service where they receive the gifts of God is an evil that we must be cautious not to feed with the current trend of sermons for children.

Twice Burned said...

In the many children’s sermons I’ve sat (or squirmed) through, rarely was it a sermon, but more of a teaching/Q&A kind of session. Too many times, these sessions become a kind of Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things” situation. Once, while telling the children about how our sins are washed as white as snow, my congregation was treated to one of my daughters ask-ing, “Pastor, why can’t bees see white?” She’d learned it in science class that week. They laughed, I died, etc., etc., and I was often told how she just "makes" the children's sermon. Yikes! What happened to Jesus? I also have a bit of a problem with calling them “messages” rather than “sermons.” In one of the churches in my circuit, this little distinction has opened the door for their woman DCE to preach. When I mentioned to a parishioner of this congregation that they have a woman preaching sermons to the children, her comment was, “Oh, it’s not really a sermon; it’s just a message.”

I don’t remember if I heard this story from someone, read it on a blog, or what, but it made me laugh. A pastor’s congregation was after him and after him to have a children’s sermon. He fi-nally agreed, and the next Sunday invited all the children to come forward and sit in the front pews (they were always empty, of course). He reminded the children how their parents had always taught them to fold their hands when they pray. Then he told them, “Today, I’m going to teach you another thing to do with your hands,” and proceeded to instruct them on making the sign of the cross. That was his first and last children’s sermon.