On a recent trip out of town, I was missing my little boy so I did what many parents do, I dropped into a toy store to find a treat to bring home. I saw something rather fun (and affordable) and picked it up to bring home. It was called a Puffimal.
The idea is simple, a rubber ball/balloon that is in the shape of an animal. I picked the elephant and looked forward to giving to Luke. The instructions seemed simple enough:
Please note: so easy, right? All you have to do is “place mouth over the nozzle end and blow” – in fact, they even show a picture of a little boy inflating his Puffimal. This is blatant fraud and false advertising!
Not only could NO CHILD blow up this little toy, but not even a grown man who when he was twelve was told by his doctor that he had the lungs of a thirty year old due to his asthma. In fact, people often marvel that I easily inflate the long thin balloons used for balloon animals without a pump, since most adults can’t inflate them. But this Puffimal I could not do!
I about ruptured some veins in my brain and got a migrane trying. Finally, I went to the garage for some help…
And found a cheap foot pump that had come with some other inflatable toy. It worked, much to my relief and my little boy’s delight!
So now we have this fat round (trunkless) elephant bouncing around the house. In the end, still a good investment of a measly three dollars, but the instructions ought to read, “To inflate, avoid damage to your lungs and find a bicycle pump or mattress inflater and insert the pump into the nozzle end and inflate.”
The manufactures of this product had a GREAT IDEA, a fun concept, good materials, attractive packaging, and a clear picture of the end result in mind… a child playing with a fun animal that would bounce around in unpredictable ways and last for a long time, and be reusable too! What they FORGOT TO DO was see if a child could actually do it! I wish there was a video of when they shot the promo picture above. I can see the boy trying to blow it up and when he couldn’t the photographer said, “Don’t worry about, just pretend.” (I wonder if it was actually tied off where you can’t see!)
DO WE EVER DO THE SAME IN MINISTRY?
Do we ever have this GREAT IDEA of what a good Christian kid should be like? Do we prepare good materials, create attractive ministry environments, and have a clear idea of what we are trying to accomplish, but we never check to see if kids can actually DO what we are expecting? We deliver these broad messages over a sea of children and get some great pictures – but do we know if they are able to actually LIVE IT on their own? Without our help? Can WE even do what we are expecting the children to? Or do we need help as well??
LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU to work one on one with a few kids so you can see what they are capable of. If you only minister to masses you may be offering a good, but faulty product. Working with a small group of children indivually will give you gret insight into what they can do, can’t do, or struggle with. The reason my wife and I wrote Awesome Adventure was to create a tool for discipling kids one on one, and to equip parents to disciple their own kids. If you are in a small church, seriously consider discipling a few individual children. If you are in a large church, you especially should consider discipling a child one on one, but also consider teaching a small group of kids. Take a class for the summer, develop a kids krew of a dozen kids you pour into, or offer a pastors class once a year. Don’t get so high above the kids that you are mass producing ministry and losing sight of the individual kids and what they can do, can’t do, struggle with, and the questions they are asking.
LOOK AT JESUS! He ministered to the masses, but he poured His life into a few individuals, and THEY are the ones who turned the world upside down when he left. It is the kids I have discipled one on one who are now in Bible college or in the ministry – the masses of kids I’ve taught are OK, but its the individual ones I invested in where I see the greatest fruit.
Don’t make the same mistake the creators of the Puffimals did!