4 Things 40 Years Have Changed (and 4 That Have Not)
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Where were you in life 40 years ago? Perhaps you were just married and starting your family. Maybe you were in grade school and as an ‘80s kid you saw the rise of technologies like video games and home movies, while your prized possession and symbol of childhood freedom was still your bicycle (complete with spoke beads and banana seat). Or maybe you weren’t even born yet! (I myself did not make my appearance until the late summer, when 1980 was waning.) Whatever the case for you, you certainly can agree with me that much in the world has changed over the last 40 years. I did a little research and found some average prices for that year. These have not been adjusted for inflation, but you’ll get the idea anyway (and possibly get a little wistful).
Bread – .50
1 lb. of hamburger – .99
A Gallon of Gasoline – 1.19
A New Car – 7,200.00
Yearly Wages – 19,500
New Home – 68,700
Obviously, things change over time! In the next couple minutes of your time, I’d like to point out 4 things that have changed over the lifespan of this ministry and 4 things that have not.
The Media We Use
In the beginning, Bob and Shirley were already well known for their vibrant and memorable black light “Chalk Talks.” Today, after all these decades and Bob now in glory, we still hear from people who vividly remember the illustrated telling of “Titanic,” for example. But at the dawn of GHH, Bob and Shirley quickly realized that they needed to supplement in order to fill the time during a whole week of camp or Vacation Bible School. During a several day-long blizzard, Bob tinkered with designing and constructing his first puppets. Shirley developed scripts, and puppetry became a part of their ministry. Over time, other media were added to create variety and tap into the strengths of the various ministry missionaries. Over the years, we’ve used chalk, drama, music, flannelgraph, ventriloquism, illusion, storytelling, full-stage puppetry, marionettes, shadow puppetry, printed materials, audio podcasts, short films and more. Although some of these mediums have lasted throughout our entire history, we view them all as simply tools to carry the message.
The Way We Travel
Since our target audience (children) cannot come to us, we must go to them. We’ve traveled in everything from our first bus (a converted school bus painted green and named “The Pickle”) to a pop-up camper, a motorhome, a minivan, and several more buses. With current technology, we also travel to children by way of the internet streaming directly into their homes. Travel has meant constant change for the last 40 years.
The Way Churches View Children
This one is by no means universal, but it IS one to which we pay VERY close attention. It has been our observation that certain trends have infiltrated the church over the last several decades to varying degrees. One trend is how the souls of children are viewed. Far too often we see children treated as if they cannot comprehend the deep spiritual truths of scripture and the implications of those truths in their lives. As a result, the response often is to hold children to one side so that “big church” can happen for the adults and the children are cared for elsewhere to be entertained by Bible stories about being kind and obeying their parents. The danger here is subtle, because while these are important biblical truths and the children are cared for by loving adults who love the Lord and children, there is the potential for at least two unintentional and detrimental side effects. A) Issues of the Person of Christ, sin and salvation, and spiritual growth can be minimized; B) The integration of children into the church as a viable contributing part of the church body is forgotten with the result of chronically shrinking churches – much to the chagrin and confusion of the local church. Another trend is the idea that children who need to be reached with the gospel are all out there – in the world, rather than remembering that no child is born saved from sin and that the “churched” child stands in just as much spiritual need as the “unchurched” child. I, for one, grew up in a home that proclaimed Christ in our house every day. I could quote scripture before I could read it. But I still needed to accept Christ as my Savior. (Incidentally, Christ reached to my heart with saving faith when I attended a VBS.) Again, these changes are not true of every church everywhere, but it certainly is true that churches continue to wrestle with how they reach, teach and integrate their children.
The Way the World Views Churches