One of my favorite things to do is watch parents literally drag young children through museums. If you are new to this experience, let me enlighten you. Young children generally do not find walking through one of the largest buildings they have ever seen with room after large room of paintings, sculptures and random objects fun. Sure, a few will catch their attention. Trust me though if you are on day three of a touring vacation or your child is tired and hungry, it can be painful.
If you persevere through the whining and complaints… If you make enough bargains of “let’s just treasure hunt to see if we can find this painting” or “just look at this one gallery”, you most likely will raise a child who appreciates museums. You may even find your children ask you at some point to take them to a particular exhibit or museum.
It’s worth the effort, because in addition to getting to enjoy some of the most beautiful and amazing things God allowed man to create, museums can also point your kids to God. It may take a little more research and intentionality on your part, but museum attendance generally does with children any way.
There are a couple of museums that were built with Christians in mind. The Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY is a science museum that gives a voice to the legitimate scientists who believe in God and believe scientific evidence does indeed point to Him. They even have a life-sized model of Noah’s Ark. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. is scheduled to open this Fall. I saw an earlier smaller version of the Museum in Atlanta and can’t wait to see the full museum one day. It houses items chronicling the history of the Bible, which sounds boring, but it’s not. The kids at our congregation loved it.
Even if you don’t want to travel, your nearby museums have a lot to offer in exhibits you can use to point your kids towards God. Here are some of my favorite exhibits:
- Civilization Exhibits: Look for exhibits featuring Egypt, Greece, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia and Israel/Palestine/Levantine historical and cultural items. You don’t have to be an expert to find the connections. Just search “Bible stories that happened in ‘name of country'” or “name of country + Bible” to find quick articles and scriptures that will help you connect the dots for your kids. Seeing a real Baal idol or learning how Jacob and Joseph were mummified will make the Bible come alive.
- Art Exhibits: Besides admiring the talent God gave the various artists and the beauty with which God surrounded us, there can also be connection in the art itself. Many artists painted Bible stories. What do your kids notice is not quite accurate? What details did they add or leave out? Was the artist’s message different from the Bible’s? Museums also often have religious icons and idols depicted artistically. It’s a great platform for discussing false gods or putting our faith in crosses or images instead of in God.
- Exhibits featuring time periods when some were treated as “less than” by others: These types of exhibits are often found in historical museums. Talk about God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. In some cases evil people twisted scriptures to convince one group of people it was God’s will for them to mistreat another group of people. How can your kids make sure they aren’t basing ungodly life choices on how someone else twists scripture?
- Cultural Exhibits: These can be great for sparking discussion of culture and missions. What aspects of the culture should be valued by missionaries and mission trip participants? Which ones encourage worshipping something other than God or ungodly behavior and should be discouraged? How does this compare to your own culture?
- Science Exhibits: This one can get a little difficult in spots, but some preparation before visiting can help. Most exhibits are not in conflict with scripture. Enjoy how God created certain rules, laws and objects in nature. Especially have your child notice the complexity in everything God created. Even atheist scientists are having to move away from the “chance” elements of macro-evolution – the complexity makes it impossible even for atheists to believe. As for dating of things like dinosaurs, you have a couple of options. You can do the research and explain the problems with trying to date rocks, fossils, etc. (Mt. St Helens’ eruption illuminated many issues with dating and assuming how long something major would take to occur.). If you and your child don’t have the time or inclination to research, simply explain that it is sad, but many scientists have chosen to reject God. They refuse to believe any evidence that points to God and often bully scientists who produce those studies. Explain that if they believed God told the truth about the Flood, for example, they would interpret the data through a different lens and realize it affirms instead of denies the existence of God. You may also want to share how many times “scientific experts” have been wrong in your lifetime. (A quick look at diet science – “eggs are bad” – “eggs are good” flip-flop, etc.)
Taking the time to connect museums exhibits to their faith, will help your kids begin to realize how God is woven through everything in life. It is an important concept you want your kids to understand. It’s worth the effort!