Rich Aguilera is an experienced children’s ministries leader, presenter and writer, including several books, a regular column in Guide magazine as “The Mud Guy,” and a movie for kids about stewardship, which he directed. He spoke recently about his new books and projects.
Tell us about your experience in children’s ministries.
While attending Andrews University in 1991, I volunteered to teach a kids’ Sabbath school class at Pioneer Memorial Church. Thirty years later, I’m still teaching Sabbath school—I’ve never missed a year. In that time, I’ve also served as a Youth Director and Children’s Ministry Director. In 2008, I quit my career in architecture and started a ministry called One Mustard Seed, working full-time to support and create resources for ministering to kids, including TV shows, books, a movie, a live touring event on dinosaurs, and weekly Sabbath school review videos.
Why did you feel a need to write 21 Tools to Teach Kids about Jesus?
If we can’t adapt to new, modern, creative ways to minister to children, they will struggle to stay connected in spiritual matters. We don’t have to copy secular formats in order to engage them, but there are many small steps we can take to update our methods and techniques for keeping kids interested and involved. This book is designed to help give ideas, tips and inspiration to parents, teachers and leaders everywhere.
How can parents and Sabbath school and classroom teachers claim back kids’ attention, when there are so many things to distract them from spiritual things?
My favourite tools maximise interaction between leaders and kids. Although the easiest way to teach is to simply speak to kids, when we create opportunities for kids to interact with us and participate in learning it draws them into a closer relationship with us and Jesus, and makes learning a memorable experience.
What difference have you seen “The Creation Case” series make when kids find intelligent answers to their questions?
Young people today are not as willing to simply accept what someone tells them as fact. When school, TV, movies and books contradict what the Bible says, kids are faced with a choice of who to believe, and many Christian homes and churches are not equipped to present kids with natural and scientific evidence that affirms the Creation story. When kids get biblically based answers to secular claims about evolution, it helps them understand that by studying the Bible and comparing it to science, nature, history and simple logic, they can discover meaningful truths about our origins and grow in faith. It helps them appreciate that we are living in a great controversy where the enemy wants to take people away from God by undermining His role as Creator.
How did the working on “The Creation Case” series strengthen your own faith?
Writing and producing “The Creation Case” gave me the opportunity to spend months researching the scientific, historic and natural evidence that supports the biblical account of Creation and the Flood. It was an immensely faith-building experience to assemble clues and evidence that point to the truth of Creation. Creation serves as the first step in understanding the gospel, so it should be no mystery why the enemy would work so hard to undermine God as our Creator.
What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned about teaching kids about Jesus?
Kids are hungry to learn about Jesus, and the story of His love is appealing to kids of all ages, as well as adults of all ages! Unfortunately, we adults often muddy Jesus’ simple teachings with complex issues and opinions. Since kids do most of their learning by watching adults, we are at risk of pointing them in the wrong direction if we are consumed by those issues. One of the easiest ways to teach kids about following Jesus is to simply model it in the way we live, the way we speak, the way we treat people, and in the things we do.
21 Tools to Teach Kids about Jesus and other books by Rich Aguilera are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.