One of my absolute favorite things I get to do every week is teaching kids the Bible. For some, a room full of elementary kids bouncing off the walls, desiring to play tag with every free minute, all while downing a sprinkles-filled donut, might not sound so awesome. While, at moments, it can drive you nuts, another way to look at it is all the potential that lies in the room. Here is the truth: these kids will not stay kids forever. They will continue to grow up. They are growing up in a world that does not love Jesus and could care less about pursuing Jesus. Parents, therefore, what you teach them matters. Kids ministry leaders, what you do every Sunday and Wednesday matters. It matters for eternity. You can’t save your child or anyone else’s child for that matter, but what you can do is teach. You can take a pie-in-the-face, laugh with kids, and then share the Gospel with them. You can set a Godly example. You can equip and release.
Recently, I stepped into more of a role in our church’s kids worship environment. It has grown me as a teacher of God’s Word and has shown me things I never saw before. And, quite frankly, I love it. There is simply something incredible about seeing a kid have a “lightbulb” moment and get it for the first time.
While being a part of kids worship, I’m learning more and more about the ways kids learn and intake information. If you are a parent of a child, a kids ministry leader, a life-long VBS volunteer, a chaperon for events, or whatever role you find yourself in ministering to kids, I would like to offer you three tips when teaching kids the Bible. I’m in no way an expert in this area, but I have found these helpful.
Break it down, don’t water it down. It is huge we understand the difference between these two things. When you break it down you desire to teach for impact. When you water it down you are simply “getting by.” By breaking it down you understand that you have influence in a kid’s life and you desire them to know Jesus. Typically, kids have a greater capacity than we give them credit for. They CAN understand the Gospel and Biblical truths. They CAN understand sin. They CAN understand why Jesus had to come to die for our sins. When we choose to water it down, we live under the false pretense that “kids can’t handle this yet.” As a result, we are doing kids a major disservice. This way of thinking usually comes from an immature Christian that simply does not want to put the time or preparation in. No doubt, teaching kids is a difficult task. They are restless, up and down, and their favorite word is usually “why.” However, what we miss when we water it down instead of breaking it down, is the incredible opportunity to speak the Gospel truth into the life of a kid at the most receptive time of their life.
Make it stick, so it will click. How you teach, what you teach matters. Hardly a time goes by that I don’t use objects, visual aids, or some form of media when I’m teaching kids the Bible. These are all great tools for breaking it down to help kids understand what we are trying to communicate to them. When kids understand truth it gives them the opportunity to embrace truth and then apply that truth to the people around them. So work hard at making it memorable so they will have “lightbulb” moments. It is important to remember that you won’t hit a “home run” every time. That is to be expected and okay. Change your methods up every once in a while, spend time with a parent or a ministry leader further down the road than you, and ask what worked for them. All these things can help you think of ways to creatively teach kids the Bible.
Explain the Gospel clearly and often. Never, ever lost sight of this. While I’m all for exciting environments, they should NEVER replace or trump the Gospel message. Again, teach in a very age-appropriate way but never lose sight of the bottom line of why you are teaching in the first place- to introduce kids to Jesus. Don’t lose Jesus in the production. Ask a kid how they became a Christian, and they will inevitably tell you about a time that a caring adult, whether it be mom and dad, a Sunday school teacher, a coach, or a kids pastor/ministry leader, took the time to invest into them and tell them about the greatest hope they can ever have. This is a beautiful picture of the Church being the Church.
Bottom line… Creatively break down the Gospel message so kids clearly understand it and, as a result, have the chance to connect to it.
Here are three questions to consider as you are teaching kids the Bible:
- What is the one thing I want them to remember from our time together in God’s Word? (In other words, what is your bottom line?)
- How can I best teach this to them in a fun, age-appropriate way?
- No matter what I’m teaching them, how can I tie it back to the Gospel and what Jesus has done for us?