Once upon a time, someone posted a recipe for bean soup on the Internet. The comments that followed were both funny and horrifying. Not just one. Not just a handful. Scads of people posted comments asking her to rework the recipe so it didn’t contain beans. Mind you, this was a BEAN soup recipe. When she didn’t post a reworked recipe without beans, she was verbally clobbered.
Our world online is currently ruled by algorithms. Ever wonder why everyone online appears to agree with your viewpoint on issues or likes the same things you like? Ever begun to think your opinions and preferences are the most popular at the moment based on what you see on social media platforms? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s because those wonderful little algorithms want to keep you happy. Because if you are happy, you will stay on their website or app longer. Which turns into more revenue for them.
The bean soup people of the world are the result of “having it your way” all of the time. Bean soup people can’t tolerate differences of opinion or ways of looking at the world. Mind you, we aren’t just talking about spiritual, biblical disagreements. We suddenly hate people who love bacon when we don’t like it. You know. Important things. Things that have started wars.
And of course, carefully curated content matches our moods and keeps us constantly entertained. Boredom is the only deadly sin (other than poorly executed content). If something doesn’t make us immediately feel better, we quickly move on to something else that may.
Unfortunately, churches and ministries have bought the bean soup hype that children and teens must constantly be in a high tech environment that is carefully curated to match their tastes and beliefs (no matter how naive or wrong they may be) and above all to keep them on a constant emotional high. Learning to these Christians is irrelevant. Keeping everyone on some sort of self focused high so they will return is more important than teaching them how to be who God really wants them to be…. selfless servants.
Parents – even those who see the building selfishness and entitlement in their own children – may even demand churches and ministries deliver this highly entertaining, yet usually shallow content. Please don’t misunderstand. Part of the mission of our ministry is to encourage engaging spiritual educational content in every environment. Where we part ways is that our emphasis is on the spiritual education piece of the puzzle. While we believe our activity ideas are engaging, we plan them to extend and deepen learning – not to entertain (although often both goals are met). If we were somehow forced to choose between content that is highly entertaining and shallow versus content that isn’t flashy but deepens knowledge, understanding and application of scripture, we will always go for the richer content.
Don’t raise bean soup affect children. Teach them to look for substance and not just flash. Remind them the world should revolve around God and not themselves. And when they encounter a bean soup recipe they don’t like, don’t complain. The world should never be all about them and their personal preferences.