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.)
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
God has breathed life into all Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, the servant of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing. -2 Timothy 3:16
God’s word. What an amazing gift we have. It provides us with comfort when we hurt, direction when lost, encouragement when down, peace when in turmoil, instruction when in need of answers and so much more. By following God’s word we can find joy, peace, contentment… a fulfilling life. Now for the fun part- helping our children to see the value in knowing God’s word and how to find what we are looking for in the scriptures.
As we teach our children what is in the scriptures, we should teach them where they are learning from. For instance, when teaching creation, how we got here, we should teach them that this is all found in the Old Testament book of Genesis. When we are teaching about the life of Christ, we should teach them to search the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As they grow older, knowing this will help them know where to turn in the bible when they need to. Of course, we have Google! As often as I use Google, I have found that this knowledge is often helpful.
Have you ever noticed people searching through their bibles trying to find the book the teacher has asked the class to turn to? I do not work on a lot of memorization, but I do repeatedly teach the books of the bible to our kindergarten through fifth grades. Not only is this beneficial, but the kids have fun learning (at least the way we teach them) and are proud of their accomplishment when they can say all 66 books! We sing the songs each week. Then our lower grades pull a card, a ball, a paper airplane or banana with a book of the bible listed and tell me if the book is found in the old or new testament. Then they make a basket, soar through a hoop or feed the monkey. Our older kids race to find the books in their bibles. As the kids get good at this, they start to tell me the name of the books that come before and after the one they chose.
Memorizing the books of the bible is not essential to a person’s salvation, but it will help in finding the answers they need when situations arise. Let’s prepare our kids.
How can a young person keep their life pure? By living according to your word. -Psalm 119:9
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Memorization Still Important?“
Ever find yourself running short on time to prepare for bible class but want something that interests the kids? Yep! It happens to the best of us. This week I came across the perfect bible story telling solution! I bought several dry erase pocket sleeves (a set of 12 was only $15). Then I bought some fun erasers because they will get the kids attention quickly! I have dry erase markers in the class for the kids already for other activities. All that was left was for me to fill them with an activity sheet to go along with our lesson. So easy and can be used over and over again.
I write my own lessons so I simply added some words and pictures with instructions on what to do with each item. (I’ll attach both so you can see what I mean.) As the kids went through the lesson, they were fully engaged. No time to design your own? No problem. Draw a handful of boxes on a page, make copies and slide it in. Instruct kids on what to draw with each part of the lesson. Another way I plan to use these is for a modernized method of working puzzles. Simply make copies of word finds, mazes, connect the dots and more. Slip them into the pockets and kids have an assortment of puzzles to work. They just trade as they finish. Sure, you can make a bunch of copies and they can use pencils or crayons, but this way gets them excited because it’s different. We want kids excited about bible class and sharing it with friends.
Here’s the lesson that goes with activity you see in the video:
- We are learning from the book of 1 Kings. Is this in the Old or New Testament? TRACE K-I-N-G-S
- (Acts 13:22) King David was a man who loved God very much. The bible says he was a man after God’s own heart. Even though David messed up sometimes, he always told God he was sorry and God was always with him. TRACE the heart
- (1 Kings 3:1-15) King David grew old and died. His son Solomon became the next king. God told him he could have anything. Solomon did not ask for tons of gold or money. He did not ask for a big palace or a long life either. No, Solomon asked for something even more valuable than all of those thing. He asked for wisdom so he could lead God’s people wisely. TRACE the “W” for Wisdom
- (1 King 5:1-9) When the King Hiram of Tyre heard Solomon was the new king, he was pleased so he sent him a message. King Solomon sent back a message asking for cedar and juniper logs. What did King Solomon need all this wood for? He was building God’s temple, a place for God to live among the Israelites. So King Hiram floated them by rafts across the sea and then Solomon had men get them and bring them on land. Draw the water for the logs to float in. What were these logs for? Building the temple.
- (1 Kings 6:1-13) After four years as king, Solomon began building the Lord’s temple. God said to Solomon, “If you obey me and keep my commands, I will fulfill my promise to your father David and live among the Israelites. I will not abandon them.” What did God say? (1 King 6:14-29) The temple was very special. Why? Because this is where God would live. Wouldn’t you want to make God’s home perfect and amazing? I know I sure would! In the place where the ark of the covenant would be, Solomon overlaid the inside with pure cold. He made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood stretching from wall to wall. Give the cherubim wings. He spent SEVEN years building it. How long? 7 years!
- (1 Kings 7:1, 51-8:1) When all the work for the temple was finished, he brought in the things his father had dedicated, the silver and gold, and placed them in the treasuries of the temple. Then King Solomon summoned the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the families to Jerusalem. He wanted them to bring the ark of the covenant from Zion, the City of David. What did he want them to bring to the temple? The ark of the covenant. Draw two long poles to carry the ark of the covenant.
- (1 Kings 8:3-11) So that’s just what happened. Who remembers who must carry the ark? Only the priests. Does anyone remember what tribe they were from? Priest came from the tribe of Levi. They carried the ark on the long poles. Nothing was in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it. TRACE the stone tablets for the 10 commandments. When the priests left the Holy Place where the ark was being kept now the cloud filled the temple. Wow! The glory of the Lord filled His temple!
- (1 Kings 8:12-62) In front of everyone, King Solomon praised God. He said, “Lord, the God of Israel, there is not God like you in heaven above or on earth below.” (vs 23) DRAW more clouds. Is there anyone more amazing than God? Anywhere? No way!
- (1 Kings 9:4-8) God reminded Solomon that if he walked faithfully and obediently like his father and never serve other gods, then God would be with them and he’d be successful. BUT, if they turned from God then God would reject them. What did they have to do for God to always be with them? Obey God and not serve any other gods. TRACE “O-B-E-Y”
- (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Remember how Solomon was making the temple beautiful and lining it with gold? Why? Because that was where God would live. Did you now that in the New Testament things changed? God does not live in the temple Solomon built. Nope! He said that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. God lives in So our bodies are special and we need to honor God with our bodies. That means we should not use our bodies for bad things. DRAW a stick man body.
Summary: Solomon was the wisest king to every live. He built a temple for God to live in among His people, the Israelites. God told him that if they obey, He will be with them. If they serve other gods, God will turn away from them. Today God does not live in a building lined with gold. He is lives in us! That means God is ALWAYS with us and helping us make wise choices like Solomon.
If you like this, you may enjoy more on activity mats. Read here.
I recently had a brother and sister in a small group setting. He is in the third grade and his little sister is in pre-school. While playing with gooey green slime as we talked about Solomon’s wisdom the little girl laughed as she said, “This looks like boogers.”
She has a propensity for putting things in her mouth so I said, “It sure does, but let’s not eat the boogers.”
Her brother chimed in, “Oh, my sister never eats her boogers.”
And little sister jumps in proudly, “Yes I do! I eat my boogers all the time.”
Kids love slime. They cannot seem to get enough of it. Every time I think it’s getting old, kids beg to make slime and take it home. I am a huge believer in making bible class fun so I added slime to the rotation! As I tell a bible story, I stop after every couple of sentences to ask reinforcement questions AND have the create something that has to do with what I just said. For example, when I tell the story of Solomon’s wisdom, we begin with the him becoming a king so they make a king’s crown. Then we talk about two woman fighting over a baby so they may make the number two or perhaps a baby rattle. Getting the idea? They use a fun activity like slime to make the bible lesson click.
Slime is really easy to make! You have probably already made some before being in children’s ministry, but just in case, here’s my go to recipe and links to purchase on Amazon for ease (however the local Wal-Mart will have everything you need too):
Supplies per person: ¼ c glue, ¼ c liquid starch, optional food coloring, bowl, spoon, hand wipes
- Mix starch and food coloring (optional)
- Add glue, stirring with spoon. It will form a glob.
- When it is all sticking together, use hands to kneed for 2 – 3 minutes
*Use different types of glue. Clear glue and no food coloring, glow-in-the-dark glue, glitter glue… you get the idea.
I like living in my bubble. My bubble is nice. It is comfortable. It is happy. Life was good until I read, “Meet Generation Z” by James Emery White at which time my bubble burst. I thought that since I was working with elementary age kids, I should learn more about this generation. These are kids born between 1996 and 2014. Wow! What a wakeup call! I think I’d like to go back into my bubble now. Unfortunately, it does not work that way when serving the Lord.
So what did I learn? Perhaps the most startling fact was that this generation is the first true POST-Christian generation. I supposed I should not be surprised, after all, we cannot talk about God in the work place (unless you work in ministry). We cannot talk about God in schools. Our monuments tied to Christianity are no longer welcome. And then we watched evil sweep in. We cannot talk about God in school but we can teach the science of evolution. We cannot discuss God; however we can talk about accepting the homosexual lifestyle. We cannot talk about God but transgenders are welcomed into elementary schools and encouraging kids to accept this lifestyle. No, I guess I should not be surprised at this latest statistic.
This generation makes up more of the American population than Baby Boomers. This is a large group and only 4 out of 10 attend church services weekly. Today’s generation is very secularized and has little to no knowledge of the gospel. Here’s how White summarized Generation Z, “First, they are lost. They are not simply living in and being shaped by a post-Christian cultural context. They do not even have a memory of the gospel. The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning… (Second), they are leaderless. Little if any direction is coming from their families, and even less from their attempts to access guidance from the internet. So how can they be reached?”
Reaching children when we have them is one thing, but getting them to us is a whole other dilemma. Then, of course, there is keeping them focused on God as they grow and we know that parents have more influence on this than church leaders. It seems to me that yes, we need to make our children’s ministry attractive; after all, the statistics on how much a child influences decisions in the home these days is truly astonishing! None the less, we must deal with reality. Equally important to an inviting and engaging children’s ministry is a parent’s ministry.
The parents of our Gen Z kids are mainly from Generation X. We need to understand them to know what pulls at their heart string. These parents are more cautious and frugal than generations past, but are known to spend more on their kids. They want good things for their children. Most of our kids homes have two parents working outside the home so kids come home to an empty house after school every day or are enrolled in after school care. Then there’s divorce… much higher divorce rates than years past. So their kids are growing up more independent, but not necessarily learning what they ought to.
Now, we know how important their kids are to them but we also know how pressed for time they are. Parents are short on time and want to spend time with their kids so they put their kids in sports. Baseball, soccer and cheer is fun for everyone, but this means even less time for the church each week. It may appear hopeless, but let’s look closer. Parents want to be good parents. They love their kids. The church needs to teach parents what is happening to children when they are not hearing about God every day. They need to be shown them very real and scary statistics of our children growing up without expressing and showing them that God is the focal point, the priority for the family. Then we need to teach a parent how to do this. And finally, we do not need to overwhelm parents with more programs, but we do need to offer them the tools to raise kids for Christ with the church as their partner.
What tools do they want and need? Here are just a few ideas:
- Scriptural answers for why we believe in God
- Time management tips
- Prayer suggestions
- 5-minute devotional with discussion question
- Share their bible lesson from Sunday and give ways to reinforce at home
- Fun family activities that allow discussion of God
- Discussion starter questions about God for the dinner table, traveling to school, etc.
- Make counseling available. Being a parent is hard and sometimes, we just need extra help.
Remind parents of Deuteronomy 6:5-8: 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Why would God instruct us to talk about God’s commands ALL the time, at every opportunity? Are parents doing this? If parents had been doing this all along, do you think the state of America would be where it is today? Make your children’s AND parent’s ministry a priority.
Interested in reading more about Generation Z?