How to teach God’s word to kids… Is there one way that is better than another to teach God’s word? Especially when it comes to kids, how should I teach them? What is most effective?
- Popular Old Testament Stories
- Popular New Testament Stories
- Mixed Old and New Testament
- Current Events
The list goes on and on. To be honest, as long as you are teaching kids the truth, then you are doing good. And if you are teaching them in a manner they receive it well and retain that information, you are doing great! Me personally, I love all these ideas and believe they all have a place; however, my preference is chronological.
Why chronological? By teaching from beginning to end, we show kids that God has always had a plan and a purpose for us. Start with the beginning. He created a world that we could flourish in. God knew man would mess up so God even had a plan for that. Everything from the beginning leads to the cross and that leads to us! I believe this will help kids better understand God.
How do you read a book? Do you start in the middle? Okay. There are some of you that read the end to make sure they like it before reading the whole story. There may be something to that. How about a movie? Do you fast forward to the end before watching the entire movie? Do you go back and forth throughout the movie? Not typically. We want to see the story, the build up and the resolutions and the big end. We get to the know the characters as we go and often develop a love or hatred toward them too. This is how I like to teach kids.
Growing up I was taught popular stories from the Old Testament and then spent the majority of time learning from the New Testament. This was good, after all, I turned out pretty well I think. But I missed so much. I thought the God of the old was mean and harsh while the God of the new was gracious and loving. It was not until I grew up and went back to the old to see that God has been the same since the beginning, just like the bible says. He was loving and merciful even in the Old Testament. Just look at how many chances the Israelite’s got even though they kept going back to idols over and over again.
Learning the bible as one big story, God’s story for us, helps us to really learn who God is. From here, we develop a love for God and the other people in the bible, just like kids do with Batman or the newest cartoon heroes. Only when it’s the bible, it’s amazing! Kids wanting to be like Joseph or Daniel, an angel or Jesus… Wow! This makes them want to share their God with others.
As you go from story to story in the bible, there are topical lessons to learn all the way through! Teaching kids the stories and touching on application prepares them for a life for Christ! When they run into trouble down the road, they will know where to turn for answers.
Yes, I prefer teaching chronologically, but I do move away from this at times to promote fun series, mainly for outreach. For instance, I just took the month of October to teach “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark.” At Christmas, I will have something in honor of the season… more on that to come later. I usually promote a series for my mid-week program and keep my chronological study on Sunday’s since it is a three-year program. Bottom line, do what works for you and your kids. What is important is that they are learning about God, growing in their love for Him and developing a drive to share Him. Lay a solid foundation in scripture so they know where to turn when they need God most. Our goal is to Raise Kids for Christ!
Need some ideas? Take a look at my chronological curriculum. It’ free so feel free to use if it works for you. This is the first quarter. I’ve seen something from The Gospel Project that looks pretty interesting. (I do not receive a commission for this. I also have never used it but think it looks promising.)
Creative Storytelling of The Witch of Endor to engage kids in God’s word and etching His lessons into their minds to pull from when they need it most in life.
This October I have been sharing scary bible stories with my kindergarten through fifth grade bible class on Wednesday nights. The goal is always to get kids excited about God! When they are excited about this, they learn who God is, they develop a love for God and they have a natural desire to share God with friends. One week they learned about “The Witch of Endor.” Real live witches in the bible? Yes! The bible really does have it all! Of course, I make sure to remind them that God said to stay away from witchcraft! It was not and is not acceptable to our God!
You will have children’s full attention as you make a crystal ball to tell the story. You can use ANY size container you want. In fact, when doing this activity for a large group, I had a large bowl. After telling the story ask questions to make sure they were paying attention. We want them going away with God’s word more so than the crystal ball. Then watch the excitement on their little faces when you let them try this activity on their own. I bought some small containers from the grocery story (like you see in the picture). They come with lids so you can even put the water in the bowls before class. I put the dry ice in each cup though and told any child that touched the dry ice they would lose theirs. Every child got their own string and groups shared the soapy suds. (Dry ice can usually be purchased at large grocery stores. You have to ask for it though.)
For the rest of their lives, when they see this activity, I bet they think of the “Witch of Endor.” And what lesson can they learn from this? King Saul had turned his back on God. He only called on God when he was afraid, so God was not there this time. King Saul was so afraid that he chose to sin even more by seeking out a witch to conjure up Samuel from the dead. King Saul did not get the answer he wanted either. He learned that he and his sons would die, and that’s just what happened. We need to be obedient to God, always. The bible tells us that sin leads to death. Sure, we will all mess up from time to time and God will forgive us, but we should not call on God only in times of trouble. That’s not a good relationship. And when we are afraid, do not make matters worse by adding sin into the mix. That’s just asking for more trouble. Trust and obey God. Grow a real relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you. It’s an awesome lesson to learn any time of the year, but it is especially fun at Halloween.
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If you enjoyed this article, check out the Pumpkin Prayer.
I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.
This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God. Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved. I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer. If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching. I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word. You get the idea. And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!
Then it was their turn. No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer. (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.) Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayer to the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer. We will see how many give it a shot!
Do you have parents reaching out to you for ideas? Are they looking for ways to raise their children with God included regularly? I remember as a young parent, I sure was! I wanted my kids to grow into fine young Christians, but was not quite sure how.
I was recently given a book called, “Around the Word in 60 Seconds,” a tween devotional book. My kids have grown, but man I could have used this! There are 52 weeks of stories about things tween’s deal with in life. Each week you will find a scripture followed by a short story that a tween can relate to. There’s even an action item and prayer. Then, each day of the week there is another verse and a question to think over helping kids think about how God’s word applies to them instead of them feeling like they are not ready for God.
I am providing a link if you are interested, but honestly, there are many options out there. Parents just need to dedicate 10 minutes a day with their kids to talk about God in their lives. Just 10 intentional minutes a day will go a long way. And let’s be honest, in this culture, we need to arm our children with the Armor of God more than ever before.
Other articles you may enjoy:
Reaching Gen Z
Does it Matter?
Why is it that God’s timing seems to be so different from ours? We have such grandiose ideas and if God would just bless them now, then I could do great things for Him. As I pondered this thought, I turned to the scriptures for answers. I must admit I was not thrilled at the answer, but I was comforted.
God loved Abram. He was a good man, but he and his wife could not have children. And we all know that in that culture, this was highly frowned upon. No children, yet God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of many, and promised him he would have so many descendants they could not be counted. They would be as many as the stars, yet God had not even given them a single child to date. Instead of trusting God to keep his promise, they took matters into their own hands. How often do we try to do this too? And problems came from that calamity of errors; however, God worked through it and eventually blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac. This led to a long line of descendants making him the father of many. If we stick with God’s plan, things will be simpler, but God is bigger than our faults and can bring about good in spite of ourselves. Just remember, the path may be bumpier.
Later in scripture we read about the Israelites. They disobeyed God so He allowed them to become slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Wow! That’s a long time. But God promised them he would rescue them and eventually, He did. He sent Moses to present the 10 plagues until Pharaoh let God’s people go. They crossed the Red Sea and were free. Of course, they complained. What God provided at that point was not good enough in their opinion. They were impatient. We know the story; God was not finished yet. They suffered some consequences but God gave them beautiful land, land flowing with milk and honey. We need to be patient and trust God’s plan for our lives.
Now let’s take a look at Joseph. He was living the good life! He parents were in love and Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Then one day his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. What an amazing attitude Joseph had though. He trusted God and God took excellent care of him. The Pharaoh trusted him with everything! Then because of someone else’s lie, Joseph ended up in prison. From there, Joseph still appears to have had a good attitude, trusting God. It took years, but God worked him back into a position above all but the Pharaoh. Joseph went through some very troubling times, unfair times. He did not say, “It’s just not fair,” and quit. No, he simply continued to trust God’s plan. We are God’s hands and feet on earth and need to allow God to work through us for His purpose.
I could go on and on with examples of God providing for His people… in His time. I have so many things I want to accomplish for His church; so many children I want to reach with His word. I will continue to pray for speedy results, but I find it comforting knowing that God has a plan and will bless His ministry the way He chooses in His time. I just need to be ready when He calls. I need to be prepared to be His hands and His feet. Remember, the hands and feet are not the brains. Let’s let God do His job and work through us.
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Children’s Ministry THAT Important?”
Good Reads! Learn more about this generation:
Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation by Barna Group