Steve Karges’ Testimony: 50 years in Christ

Contact: Steve Karges, Founder and President, Children’s Ministries International, Inc.; Coordinator, Global 4/14 Day, 760-746-1882, Steve@cmikids.com

SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 4, 2017, — Fifty years ago today, my life was changed FOREVER! On June 4, 1967, I walked down the aisle of my childhood church and received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I was nine years old.

On that Sunday around 12 noon, there were no bells or whistles, no bright lights or thundering noises, but everything in my life changed! All my sins (past, present, and future) were forgiven and I was adopted into God’s family. I was loved unconditionally and my future was secured for all eternity.

Today, I experience love when I feel unworthy, joy when my heart is broken, peace during life’s raging storms, hope in disappointment and guidance when I need a personal GPS. Jesus meets every need. He has brought meaning, purpose, and direction to my life. He plants dreams within my heart and then brings those dreams to life.

Through Christ, I have the strength to stand-up again when I stumble or get knocked down because I know the foe is defeated and victory is assured.

I am not perfect — just ask my wife! I am simply someone who was lost and God found. I am grateful He came looking for me and reached out His hand in love! I am glad I reached back by faith.

 “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:32, ESV)

Fast forward to 2017 and I am a children’s pastor with a global ministry. I have learned from my own childhood experience that kids can understand the gospel, repent of sin, believe in Christ, and follow Him for the rest of their lives.

This is a day to celebrate JESUS!

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Truth in Children’s Ministry: The Disney Way Undermines Authority of Scripture

In Evangelicalism, there is a movement in children’s ministry, which is rooted in the emergent church, that promotes the wisdom and business practices of entertainment mogul Walt Disney (1901-1966). These influencers encourage pastors and leaders to use Disney’s ideas to build the children’s ministry in their congregations. This methodology is known as the Disney way.

As with every innovative approach to ministry, this one must also be examined in the light of Scripture.

First, the Disney way of children’s ministry robs God of His glory. The Bible says all glory belongs to God (I Peter 4:11) and He doesn’t share His glory with anyone (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Psalm 115:1).

If a local church successfully implements the Disney way, and these methods effectively attract more kids to the children’s ministry, who gets the credit? Not Christ. The praise goes to Disney and his genius. The Disney way glorifies man by putting human will, human ability, and human achievement in the place of God.  Giving a man credit for church growth steals glory from God.

Some may say, “the end justifies the means,” but that is pragmatism and a classic example of how Biblical theology has taken a back seat to methodology in the church today.

Second, the Disney way of children’s ministry does not harmonize with Scripture. The Bible tells believers not to love the world or the things of the world (I John 2:15). What is worldlier than Disney, with its “Happiest place on Earth” motto? Christ is the One who builds His church (Matthew 16:18; I Corinthians 3:6-7). To think we can do this, with some help from Disney, undermines the Authority of Scripture.

Why should Christians exchange the “God-breathed” infallible Scripture for human wisdom? They shouldn’t. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19, NKJV; See I Corinthians 2:5).

Third, the Disney way of children’s ministry dishonors Christ and His church by trivializing the sacred and holy.  The church is not supposed to be a Disney production. Disney is an entertainment company that is based on fantasy. The Church, which is sacred and holy, is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15, ESV). In the Old Testament, the brothers, Nadab and Abihu faced God’s wrath when they trivialized the sacred and holy (Leviticus 10:1-3).

When children enter the church building to worship God, they cross the threshold of the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, from the profane to the holy.

The Disney way prioritizes the “customer.” The church’s priority is to worship Christ in spirit and truth (John 4:24). How does He want to be worshiped? What pleases and honors Him?

Christ alone is the One who draws sinners to Himself (John 12:32).

Contact: Steve Karges, Founder and President, Children’s Ministries International, Inc., www.cmikids.com; General Editor, The Truth Test, www.thetruthtest.org; (760) 746-1882

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A Call for Discernment: Strange Fire in Global Children’s Ministry Movement Minimizes Authority and Truth of Scripture

scriptureSince the 1970s, I have had a front row seat to the world and have witnessed firsthand the phenomenal rise of global children’s ministry.  Over the past 40 years, more Christians, churches, religious groups, and resources have been committed to the ministry of kids worldwide, than at any other time in history.

This has resulted in a cottage industry of children’s ministry products including college degrees, technology, expert consultants, publishing, conferences, books, magazines, curriculum, websites, chat rooms, social media apps, television and radio programs, music, equipment, facilities, events, professional entertainers, sports, games, toys, and more.

Some of these products are valuable resources that have improved ministry to children over the years. A number of products are questionable, at best, and a few are simply blasphemous.

Today’s global children’s ministry movement can be painted with a broad brush. In the name of “unity,” this worldwide network of “influencers” has embraced anyone and everyone regardless of doctrine. This includes pastors, children’s ministry leaders, missionaries, churches, denominations, para-church organizations, mission societies, political groups, educators, business leaders, religious publishers, Christian broadcasters and charitable foundations. Many who have stated beliefs contrary to Scripture are welcomed into this movement and tolerated, as long as they say they love Jesus.

But the written Word and the Living Word cannot be separated. They are ONE.

Although the global children’s ministry movement is a “grab bag” of theology, practices and manifestations, there are many creative and talented pastors and leaders who are committed to Christ and whose teaching is Biblically sound. These heroes of the faith evangelize and disciple children, and equip believers for ministry. As they continue to serve humbly, inspire others, and “build-up” the Body of Christ around the world, their contributions to global children’s ministry are making a huge impact.

While some partnerships are profitable for wider ministry to children, the global children’s ministry movement is dominated by the marketing of merchandise and “emerging” leaders who espouse a new form of spiritually. They have imported extra-Biblical beliefs known as Word of Faith, Signs and Wonders, Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now, Transformation Theology, Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare, Seven Mountains Mandate, New Mountain, Spiritual Mapping, Emergent Theology, Contemplative-Reflective Spiritual Formation, and Mysticism. The infiltration of these counterfeit doctrines into global children’s ministry has come primarily through leaders (and followers) of the New Apostolic Reformation and Emerging Church.

As a result of their influence, the Authority and Truth of Scripture has been minimized or completely disregarded in the global church. It has been replaced by “spiritual experiences” and entertainment such as “theater, art, science, drama, music, computer, and cooking,” as one purpose statement makes clear on an American church’s website.

The global church “promotes fun while building character,” and uses “reality-conscious teaching” to accomplish that.  The church is where a child can “belong…be heard…and meet new friends.” Parents are told that the way to connect their kids to God and help them grow spiritually is “achieved best through relationships.” Church has become “a place where loving God is cool and kids rule!”

The name of Jesus is occasionally mentioned, but His story is not fully told because the Bible is not used. “The Gospel” is referred to, but never clearly explained from Scripture, so children leave church confused, with no understanding of Truth.  When kids do not learn about Jesus from the Bible, they do accept Him as their Savior and Lord, or in their shallow faith, lack the assurance of salvation.

Eric Ludy, president of Ellerslie Mission Society said, “If you believe the Word of God is the word of men, your foundations will fail you. But, if you want to build upon a rock, then you take God at His Word. The Word of God is the Word of God and the Word of God is as God is: It cannot lie. Therefore, when you have those foundation points, you are not shaken.”

The global church is teaching children to build their foundations on sand, not ROCK. When God’s Word is minimized or abandoned, kids will eventually look for truth elsewhere. 2 Timothy 4:4 (NIV) says, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Why are we surprised when kids decide not to follow Jesus and one day leave the church, never to return?

The responsibility for children’s ministry begins with Christian parents and ends with the leadership of the local church. Ask questions and find out what is being taught to the children in your congregation.  Are they learning the Scripture or simply fables? Do not be indifferent or remain silent, SPEAK UP FOR TRUTH!

Until Christians rise-up and demand change from their church leaders, this strange fire in the global children’s ministry movement will continue to infiltrate local congregations around the world. This is an URGENT call for discernment to Christian parents, pastors and Elders within the Body of Christ worldwide.

Steve Karges is president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc., a non-denominational, evangelical Christian ministry, which he founded in 1980 in San Diego, California. Steve is the coordinator of Global 4/14 Day, a worldwide day of prayer for children, held annually on April 14. He is also editor of Heroic Dads, a syndicated commentary for Christian fathers. Steve is married to Janette and they have two grown children. The Karges’ will soon become Foster parents for the first time. Visit www.cmikids.com.

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