“I don’t want to read that book anymore daddy. It says the same thing over and over.” These are the words of Ellie, my 4 year old daughter. I always (usually) read a bed time story with Ellie and I usually let her pick out the book. There are a couple books she picks out though that I am tired of reading so I tell her to pick another one out. Her Barbie books are quickly getting to that point! Last night she picked a book out that neither of us had read before – I Couldn’t Love You More. This was written by the lead singer, Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real, a popular Christian band. I was eager to read it.
It looked like and started out like most children’s books. It had an eye-catching cover. The art and pictures throughout the pages were very well done and even the story of the book was good. But it was the way the story was told that left my daughter, and myself, wanting more. The book tells the story of parents who love their child very much, but Jesus loves our children even more. Like I said, this is a good message and story to hear, but it was just boring.
When I found out the book was also the lyrics to a lullaby song by Hammitt, it made me think about Christian music in general. Now this is a lullaby and so its simplicity and repetition is purposeful and then after watching the story behind it by Matt Hammitt with him singing a portion of the song to his 3 kids, I had a little bit more grace for it, but it doesn’t change the fact that my daughter doesn’t want to read or hear this story anymore. It was boring! And this is coming from a 4 year old girl who can play for hours with a couple dolls! I was sad as her daddy and also as a pastor. She was tired of hearing the same thing over and over!
The problem is that I see this in Christian music and storytelling all the time. Many of the popular songs on the radio tell a great message, but the story and words have no depth to them. It’s boring! I find myself thinking in many different directions with this. How can a 4 year old find this boring, yet full grown adults find it “cute” and even inspiring? Are we really being honest with ourselves when it comes to music and art in our little Christian bubble? Do we really find the Gospel story of Jesus inspiring by songs and words so simple and repetitive? Or do we just accept it and try to justify it since it has nice artwork and the singers and musicians are talented and have nice voices? Just like the cover and art in the book looked really nice and was pleasing to the eye, so does Christian music. But just like Ellie decided at the end of the book, there was something missing. There was no depth even for a 4 year old.
It’s no wonder so many young people have no interest in the church as they get older and older. It’s boring! Yea, there might be fancy aspects of cool churches and youth rooms and videos, and yes we are trying to tell a great message, but in the end, are they wanting to read this story again? Or are we leaving our kids with something more to be desired?
Friends, we have the greatest story ever to be told, and yes that is Jesus loves us more than we’ll ever know, but let us attempt to tell this story with greater detail and depth that stirs our imaginations and makes us wonder of the wondrous love of Jesus. Yes there are times when what we really need to hear is “Jesus loves you!”, but we also need to hear the reasons why.
Let us tell stories that leave our children wanting to continue reading the Story! Let’s not be boring!