What does it mean when kids (and parents) compartmentalize their faith?
It basically means they do the "church thing" on Sunday and the rest of the week they don't bring God into their conversations, decisions and schedule.
The Bible (or Bible app) might be used on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week it collects dust. Few, if any prayers are said in the home during the week.
The result - kids and parents develop a shallow faith that sees following Jesus as something you do 1 hour a week.
As ministry leaders, one of our top priorities must be helping kids and parents understand that Jesus wants to be involved in every area of their life.
Here is an illustration I use with our pre-teens each year. It helps them see what it means to have Jesus leading every part of their life.
First, I have the kids draw a circle and lines on a piece of paper. The circle represents their entire life and the lines represent different areas of their life. It should look like this when they draw it...like a bicycle tire with spokes.
The next step is to have the kids write in some of the parts of their life. Things like school, family, hobbies, sports, etc. See the example below.
Go over the areas of their life. Ask if anyone wrote in "Jesus" or "Church?"
Have the kids read Matthew 6:33 with you.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Share with the kids this vital truth. Jesus doesn't want to just be a part of their life. He wants to be the center of their life.
Have the kids write in the word "Jesus" in the smaller circle in the middle.
Explain that in the center of the wheel is the hub. The hub moves with and controls not just one or two parts, but every part of the wheel.
When you put Jesus first, you are inviting Him to be your Leader in every area of your life. You invite Him to be at school with you. You invite Him to control your thoughts and actions when you are playing sports. You invite Him to guide you and lead you when are with your friends.
Explain that Jesus has promised when you make Him the hub, the center of your life, then everything else will fall into place.
If kids can grab hold of this truth, they will be able to decompartmentalize their relationship with Jesus. They will understand that following Jesus means you ask Him to get involved and control every part of your life.
Sometimes you will see or hear about a person who says they are following Jesus, but many of their actions say the opposite. They put their "church clothes" and put in their one hour at church for the week. But once Sunday is over, they close the door to Jesus' influence during the rest of the week.
We must also help parents grasp this truth as well. Often the child is simply following their parents example. They don't see their parents praying at home, so they don't pray at home. They don't see mom and dad tithe, so they don't tithe. They see their parent's Bible collecting dust all week and so their Bible collects dust as well.
When parents make the decision to put Jesus as the hub of their life, then you will see their children follow and do the same.
This teaching is from the Elementary Graduation Celebration kit. It is a great tool to help deepen the faith of both kids and their parents as they prepare to move into middle school ministry. You can see more examples and get ordering info. at this link.