We were sitting down to dinner last night and our youngest son (6 years old) agreed to pray and give thanks before we ate. He takes this “giving thanks” quite seriously and will often pray a long list of “Thank you for…”s. Most of the time I really enjoy hearing all of the interesting things he is thanking God for. “Wii”, “water,” and “babies” often top his list along with the usual “food” and “family.” Sometimes his list goes on and on and if the rest of us are especially hungry, and our food is sitting in front of us waiting to be eaten, we become quite charismatic and began mumbling encouraging “Amen”s hoping to wrap up the prayer!
Last night he ended with “…and thank you that boys are no longer mean. Amen!” My wife and I opened our eyes and gave each other a look that translated into “What is that about?” I was worried that there had been an incident at school or on the bus that we didn’t know about. But after questioning him we finally discovered that he was talking about The Story of God. Let me explain.
If you’re not familiar with The Story of God, this is something developed by Soma Communities in Tacoma to be used with Missional Communities. The resource is free and can be found here: Story of God Resources. We are currently working through the “Story Formed Way” version in our missional community. We weren’t sure how it was going to work with the kids since it really is not the “kids version” of the story. However, the kids have really been engaged, especially when we do the retelling! The Story of God is a form of “chronological Bible storying” that presents the overall Biblical narrative in condensed, oral story form. Another way to describe it would be a sweeping “big picture” of the story of redemption.
Back to my son’s prayer: He was apparently very disturbed (and rightly so) that in the beginning of The Story there is a repeated theme of people “doing what is right in their own eyes” and that “their every thought was evil.” Now that we are deeper into the story and have arrived at Jesus, he is experiencing relief that, in his own words, “boys are no longer mean.” What I love about this, is that even though he doesn’t have the theological or church language to talk about sin, evil, redemption, etc., he is grasping the story! He is getting the “good news” – the Gospel! And not only that, but he is personalizing it! “Boys” and “meanness” is something that he can relate to in that he has both experienced it and he has been the mean boy at times.
I have no idea how we will look back on this later. We haven’t even finished going through The Story of God once yet, and ideally we will do it once every year in our missional community. I just have a sense that we are onto something that I have longed for since the day that my children were born: that they would know God’s Story and see themselves as an ongoing part of that story in the world!