Kid Nation - Religion

If you haven't been watching the new CBS reality show, Kid Nation, you really should be. It's a great one to watch with the kids, too. It has sparked some interesting discussions with our family. If you don't know, the premise of the show is 40 kids (age 8-15) for 40 days in a ghost town with no adults. Basically the experiment is let's see what kind a civilization they build for themselves and how they handle life without supervision.

This week's episode seriously should be shown to every church or at least the leadership of every church. The whole episode was basically what to do with the question of religion. The kids come from diverse backgrounds - mostly Christian, a handful of Jews, a handful of atheists, 1 Hindu, and a handful of "other".

Four kids serve as the town council and each week are given a suggestion from a fake journal supposedly left behind by the town's former old west inhabitants. This week's suggestion was to consider providing a religious service (or services) for the town. The council decided to schedule a religious service where everyone could come and share about their own religion and then spend time in prayer/meditation together. When this was announced, it was flatly rejected by the entire town and nobody showed up to service that was organized by the council. However, later that night, a grass roots sort of thing happened and a big number of the kids decided to meet together for prayer. It was mostly Christian, but a Jewish kid said a Jewish prayer and the Christian kids were really moved by it.

Every week there's a team challenge and if all teams finish the challenge in an allotted time, the town gets a reward. This week the town could choose either to have a miniature golf course in the town or a library of "holy books" (the Bible, Torah, Koran, and others). The town was not happy with the council's decision the previous week, so the council let the town choose this week. To my surprise (and the council's) the kids overwhelmingly chose the holy books. Many of them spent time reading them later. They saw them as an important way to better themselves.

The reason this episode is so important is because it shows us as a church that the "coming storm" of postmodernism is here - NOW! These kids that represent a cross-section of American adults 10 years from now flatly rejected "organized religion", but enthusiastically embraced "faith". If the church is going to influence the culture, it must undergo a serious facelift. Organized religion needs to be left behind and the church needs to become more of a grass roots type of movement. We are going to have to stop going to church, and start being the church. The hand-writing is definitely on the wall and we need to respond.

I hope you'll be able to see more of this episode on YouTube in the future, but until then, here's the promo clip for it. (Thanks to D. Scott Miller who pointed out that the entire episode can be viewed at CBS.com.)


D. Scott Miller said...


Folks can watch the whole episode on-line at CBS

D. Scott Miller said...

oh, and kids are embracing faith and not finding it in organized religion. For those of us in organized religion, what are we going to do about that??

Jeff Myers said...


thanks for the heads-up on the episode. as for what we in organized religion should do - i feel like we're steering an ocean liner. they don't make sharp turns without taking on a lot of damage. but we need to start turning it now before it's absolutely too late. i think step one is leading the church into a more missional emphasis and at the same time making strides to change the negative image of the church. the majority of people who work in the church feel it's hypocrisy and ineffectiveness (even without outsiders pointing out). so what are we going to do about. as a wise pastor once told me in my first youth pastor position while i was in college, "do something. even if it's wrong - just do something." we'll make mistakes and learn from them, but we've got to start the change.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is apart of "organized religion", I would like to say that I dislike that term. It automatically conjures up negative thoughts like "organized crime"(quite possibly on purpose). The reality is that most all of us would still be "dead in our trespasses" if it were not for organized religion. Coming up with something "new", most likely won't truely be "new". It's might be somewhat different, but not new. It will still be organized, there will still be certain things on their agenda that they make an organized attempt to accomplish. Solomon was right, "there is nothing new under the sun." Not to mention the fact that organized religion has saved many believers and whole congregations from straying from orthodox christianity.

I'm not quite ready to throw away two thousand years of organized religion just because some graduates of Trinity and Fuller struck a deal w/ candle manufacturers.


Jeff Myers said...

There is nothing wrong with organization. The church should be well-organized. Maybe a more accurate term would be beauracratic religion. Religion that can only rarely bring out life-change in people because its systems are broken, or change is to slow, or it's almost completely inward focused, or whatever. Driscoll preached a great sermon recently on churches going from movements to institutions to museums. The church should feel and act like a movement. Unfortunately, though, the vast majority of US churches are becoming or have become museums. Monuments to what was. The next generation does not want to be a part of that. Crap, who does?