I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John chapter 10, verse 10 (NIV)
‘You don’t want me to sing do you?’ According to Andrew Stanton, the director of award winning animated movies such as WALL-E and Finding Nemo, when the team at the Pixar Animation Studio met with the actor Tom Hanks, (who was to voice the character Woody in their first feature film Toy Story, co-produced with Walt Disney Pictures) that was one of his first questions.
At the time the animated films that were successful were the likes of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Working with Pixar to produce Toy Story, from Disney’s perspective there was the expectation that certain elements would be required to make it a ‘hit’ animated movie. Whereas the team at Pixar said, ‘no songs, no ‘I want’ moment, no happy village and no love story’, Disney apparently wanted to see songs, specifically an ‘I want song, a happy village song and a love story’.
History tells us what happened, both in terms of how the team at Pixar did it their way, but also how not ‘toeing the line’ paid off in terms of the financial and critical success that followed the release of Toy Story. The reality is that it is one of those defining films in the great cinematic story where the bar is well and truly raised.
Reflecting on this, I wonder whether in the church we can sometimes end up delivering ministry, in a certain way or with a specific focus, simply because we always have. As we read in the book of John, Jesus came, ‘that they may have life, and have it to the full’. To me that suggests something out of this world, something new, something fresh, something that will shake the very bones off our being and cause us to live a different way. I wonder how often that is what we are sharing with the children we work amongst though? I’m not suggesting in this respect that our passion to see children discover Jesus and become His followers is not there, but perhaps the spark and the desire to give it our all has dimmed and thus we’re still including a ‘Happy Village song’, because we always have.
It’s about asking ourselves questions such as:
- What is the ministry we deliver amongst children?
- What does it look like?
- What are we aiming to achieve – macro and micro?
- Are we doing it as effectively as we can, or could we do things differently?
Not for a second am I suggesting we just change everything for the sake of it, jump on the latest band-wagon or follow the most recent trend. But I do believe we need to think through the opportunities we have to minister amongst children, to help them discover Jesus and ask some possibly hard questions about how we do what we do and why?
What is your experience? Do feel stuck in a rut, doing the same old same old? Have you taken a fresh look at the ministry you deliver? Without a doubt it’s an exciting adventure, an ever changing challenge, but for sure it’s one we need to be constantly working through. We need to be seeking to give the best, to share the life the Jesus brings in all its fullness, whether we do so as a song or not?
Ed Jones, Director of Arise Ministries