Dr. Elizabeth Youmans, president and CEO of Chrysalis International and one of DNA’s ideas shapers, travels the world in her efforts to help churches effectively disciple children and youth.
We are happy to offer the following excerpt from Dr. Youmans’s recent newsletter.
The best time to cultivate a Christian imagination is during childhood. Young children have a natural sense of wonder. Their minds and hearts are malleable and their memories tenacious. For these reasons, we should intentionally guard and feed our children’s imaginations with images of magnificence. Yet, for many children in our present world, just the opposite is true.
Most pastors, youth leaders, and Christian parents are content to let the popular culture disciple their children. As the culture grows darker and children spend endless hours in non-reflective, media-driven activities, their imaginations become dulled, starved, and corrupted. Manipulated and dominated by the hidden agendas of media program developers through the internet, television, movies, and video games, children are bombarded with visual images, many of which are crass, immoral, and demonic. These images and subliminal messages amuse and entertain rather than inspire and ennoble. They portray relationships as fragmented and fleeting instead of coherent and enduring. In many cases, programs are full of deceptive wonder and illusion instead of truth and reality. Ungodly images abound and in some instances, good is seen as evil and evil is proclaimed as good.
There is little teaching that comes from the church on nurturing a Christian imagination in children. We have found that many Christians are ignorant of this topic believing the imagination has only to do with dark magic and demonic influences. Many do not comprehend the imagination as God’s gift of wonder. The imagination is a God-given capacity or innate power within the soul of man to form images. Understanding the imagination as God purposed for man’s ennoblement and creativity begins with a biblical view of God and His creation. Man, the crowning glory of creation, was made in God’s image and bountifully endowed with language, reason, and imagination.
We all imagine. Consider the young boy who reads about noble deeds and envisions himself as honorable and courageous, or an artist who views a majestic scene and paints an enduring work of beauty. Further, take take into account the individual who hears God’s Word and receives a revelation of the true and living God and is transformed. With our imaginations cultivated by beauty, truth, and moral goodness, we are able to daydream, enter into creative expression, and come to know the true and the real. We are spared having to spend time with illusions and are able to transcend the mediocre to envision beyond ourselves. God fashioned us in His image to affect culture by dreaming dreams, performing virtuous deeds, and telling a good story with our lives. Just imagine . . .
Click the link below for access to the rest of the newsletter.