In February of 2017, I won two tickets to attend WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. I entered a contest on Instagram put on by Camping World Stadium (where the event was held) asking if you won who would you take and why.
I told them about my then 7-year-old son who was already watching it and how he had us download his favorite wrestlers’ intro music. I painted the picture of a little 7-year-old, dressed as the Undertaker, slowly walking into our living room to the haunting sounds of a church bell. I painted the picture well enough that we won.
My son was so jacked! So from that point on we had to watch everything WWE. We learned plot lines, wrestlers, finishing moves, intro songs, rivalries…you name it. That way when it came time for WrestleMania we were ready.
The day finally arrived and man was it a spectacle! 70,000+ people packed into that stadium, all chanting and cheering and booing. The place would shake with the volume of noise.
And Brock? He was wide-eyed. He was amazed. He was awestruck!
By the end of the night, he was exhausted and his throat hoarse. WWE had done what it set out to do and it did it incredibly well.
Since that night my son and I have continued to watch WWE and talk about the different wrestlers and story lines. We have been to more shows and plan to do so in the future.
There have been plenty of times that I have thought about what makes WWE work? Everyone knows it’s scripted (although things do happen outside of that script). We all know that they are athletic entertainers…they even call themselves sports entertainment. But even with all that it continues to sell out around the world. So what is it?
I believe it’s because of two things. And they are two things that you can do with your own children to help raise them to be devoted followers of Jesus.
They Tell a Story
It’s not necessarily the wrestling that draws people in (even though some of them are more like acrobats) it’s the stories they tell. So and so is in a rivalry with such and such because this thing happened.
Or better yet is when they take a good guy (called a face) and have them do a heel turn (meaning they become a bad guy) or vice versa. That moment it happens the crowd reacts accordingly and sucks them in.
The story drives the industry. Some stories are told well and others not so much. The stories that take hold are pushed and the ones that don’t connect are slowly faded away. But it is the story that’s central.
Now how does that help us as parents lead our kids into a deeper relationship with Jesus?
It’s the story!
It’s the everlasting, eternal story of Jesus. It’s the idea that you and I and our kids play our role in that everlasting, eternal story of Jesus! Your kids need to know the story of Jesus but just as importantly is that they know they are part of that story. They need to know that they are part of this story that spans generations, cultures, languages and any other man made barriers.
Your child does play a part in that story. Let them know that over and over and over. Tell them parts of your story. Let them see how God is moving in your life. Talk about the people you’re praying for and serving. Let them see you in action! Whether that’s actually praying or serving in life or on Sundays at church, let them see the story unfold.
The WWE constantly tells stories, some are good and some not so good but they know the power of story and it’s something that we parents can use to help our kids grow closer to the story of Jesus.
They Engage the Audience
Not only does the WWE spend all kinds of time telling stories but they engage the audience and its fan base in that story.
Different wrestlers have different catch phrases or motions and when they come out or cue the audience thousands of people will simultaneously respond with that motion or catch phrase. The fans will interact with the performers during a match; if the match is a good one they will chant “This is awesome” but if it’s bad they will chant “This is boring”. Thousands of people engaging and changing the story or outcome just by their participation.
I’m not suggesting that we incorporate this into a worship service…all though it would be pretty awesome if while preaching hundreds of people started chanting “This is awesome”!
But what I am suggesting is that we engage our kids in the story.
Start by telling them stories…the story of Jesus. But don’t stop there. Engage them in the story. Give them opportunities to participate in the telling of the story.
For example, my 16-year-old Jenna loves kids. So she has been serving in our children’s ministry Treehouse with the pre-K groups and she loves it. We’ve talked about how her being there to consistently love on those kids makes a huge difference not only for the children but for the parents as well.
She’s participating in helping families raise their children to be devoted followers of Jesus and she knows it.
Another example is a family in our church that comes early to help set up and brought their daughter Reagan. She’s a little younger than Brock but she too is being told the story of Jesus and being engaged in it as well.
A few weeks ago I saw her at Shift early with her dad. And what was she doing? She was prepping the communion table. She had all the cups lined up and was putting the crackers in each one and helping fill the others with the juice.
She was engaged in the telling of Jesus’ story. And it’s going to make a difference in her life.
My son and I (and yes even my wife and daughter) enjoy watching the silliness and athleticism of the WWE. And I will always enjoy the moments I have with my kids as we watch and go to the events but I will be forever thankful because of what it taught me about the power of engaging in a good story (even if that story is cheesy).
What are some ways you are helping your kids engage in the story of Jesus? We would love to hear about it from you! Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.