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Why We Are Switching to "Who Will Be King" for Summer OFF 2014

Conversations with children in Dexter Park for the past five years have included 5 colors: gold, black, red, white and green. They're the colors of the "Wordless Book" and we've used those colors in lots of forms. We used 5-colored silly bands (remember those?), soccer balls, the Gospel Turnaround, face paint and even nail polish.

But this year we're trying out a new gospel summary: Who Will Be King? WWBK is the kid's version of Two Ways to Live, by Matthias Media. WWBK is a six-part gospel summary centered on the theme of Christ the King and the kingdom of God. It goes like this:WWBK

  • God is the loving King of everything, because He made everything.
  • We say “No” to God. We try to be our own king instead. But we make a big mess of God’s good world.
  • God is the only true king. He won’t let people keep saying “No” to him. God’s punishment is that we are shut out of his kingdom forever.
  • Because of his love, God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world. Jesus died to take our punishment so that we could be forgiven
  • God brought Jesus back to life again and made him the king of everything. One day, Jesus will come back.
  • There are two ways to live.

These six points are illustrated with simple and clear illustrations for kids. You can see the whole thing here.

We're switching for four reasons. First, WWBK sets up the hearer for a life of discipleship, not just conversion. From the beginning, this booklet heads toward making Christ the king of our life.

Second, it describes sin clearly -- as a life of trying to be our own king, not just doing wrong things. And it's also clear about the consequences of our sin, not being allowed to live in God's kingdom forever. We like the clarity of this part.

Third, we want to send home this gospel summary with kids so that it's in their home for others to see. The wordless book doesn't mean anything without an explanation. And closely related to this, WWBK does not rely on everyone remembering what to say. It's written down.

Fourth, WWBK is good for the Christians who are telling it to others all summer. We are committed to an approach we call "gospel for you, gospel for me." We want our Christian teens and adults to see that gospel at work in their own lives even as they're sharing it with others. WWBK helps with this too.

We see a potential weakness with WWBK, though. At the point where it's clear about sin and judgment, it can also seems to come across harshly. The picture that corresponds to this point is a person with an "X" through them. Some who envision sharing it with children in the park are worried that it will be too negative — that it may feel condemning or insensitive.

But it’s at this very point that the heart of the gospel is clearest and most powerful. We need to be sure to link two points here: “God’s punishment is that we are shut out of his kingdom forever” and then the next page, because of God’s love for us, “Jesus died to take our punishment so that we could be forgiven.” This pairing is what makes all the different. The "X" gets transfered to Jesus on the cross. This is the heart of the gospel.

Whenever we share the gospel we want to do it with clarity about Christ’s substitution. And we want to be sensitive in how we communicate these truths to young hearts. Thoughtfulness is important no matter the context or the summary we use. It's important that we share the gospel as an ambassador: true to the message from our sovereign, and presented in a way that the hearer can understand.

So this summer we're going to use Who Will Be King. We want to do it prayerfully, joyfully and with faith that God can use it to bring the grace of Christ to the lives of many children.