By Kayla Stevens
Have you ever wondered what color crayons really are? Are green crayons really green? Can you trust that the P-U-R-P-L-E written on the label correctly identifies a purple crayon? What if someone takes the green crayon label and puts it on a purple crayon. Is it still green? Why or why not?
My guess is you probably have not sat for hours at your favorite coffee shop contemplating questions about the color of crayons, but then again we are in kidmin, so it is entirely possible! As leaders, we want to pay attention to little questions like these that kids are being asked regularly. And while they look simple on the outside, they are actually very complex and feed into a cultural worldview known as expressive individualism.
Expressive individualism is a term that describes the belief that identity comes through self-expression. In this belief system, the pathway to true identity is through discovering your most authentic desires by looking within yourself and then being free to display those desires to the world. This is the current mantra of the culture: “be true to yourself, speak your truth, follow your heart, you be you.”
So, what does expressive individualism have to do with the color of crayons? Everything. The adversary of our children has learned to begin simple and start early. If the belief system of the church is to be compromised, start with children and propagate a simple deception.
“Are green crayons really green?” is not only a question about colors, but about who determines identity. Who gets to say what the color green is or is not? Do I get to determine what is green? What if I want to call the color of carrots green? Is that okay? Can that be my truth? Why or why not?
Our kids are being inundated with messages and myths that question identity, authority, and who gets to say what is true and what isn’t. And it is important that we listen to the messages kids hear and learn to engage in conversations with them that point back to the gospel and Biblical truths.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Read a children’s story. Ask kids to share what values the writer is lifting up? For older kids, consider talking about what the message behind the message really is and why it matters. Do they see a conflict with Biblical truth in the story?
- Watch an age-appropriate ad. Talk about what qualities or characteristics are presented in an attractive way. Identify the message being presented and determine if this message lines up with the Bible.
- Listen to a popular song that kids in your ministry know. Read the lyrics and engage kids in a conversation about what ideas are being presented as truth. Discern what parts of this message are true, what parts are not, and why these ideas seem good or attractive.
Accurately identifying the message is the first step towards exercising discernment and helping kids interpret the messages they hear. There is a calculated attempt to deceive kids from the truth, it is sophisticated and subtle. As we lead kids, let us also listen to the messages kids are hearing from the culture, and then guide them to a better way of discerning what is true, what isn’t, and why green crayons really are green.
Kayla Stevens is a Content Editor for Lifeway Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has contributed to several books and Bible studies including What about Kids Ministry? Practical Answers to Questions about Kids Ministry (2018), What is a Christian? Answers for Kids (2018), and Behold Your King (2020). She has been serving in Kids Ministry for over 14 years and has a deep passion for empowering children to own their faith and grow deeper in the joy of Jesus.