Did Moses really talk to a burning bush, or had he simply been in the desert too long? How about the parting of the Red Sea, or Noah’s ark? And don’t get me started on questions about dinosaurs!
Kids have questions, just like teens and adults do. But if our goal is to prepare kids to defend their Christian faith, we need to take a couple of steps back and ask, “Why would kids defend a faith they may not even believe for themselves?” Kids in the elementary years are moving beyond simply accepting what their parents or teachers tell them about God, Jesus, and their faith. They may or may not express this, but most kids are asking the same questions that their non-Christian friends ask or use to question Christianity. Some may have to do with miracles and dinosaurs, but others likely will focus on whether God is real: Does he love me? Why would he work in my life?
1 Peter 3:15 encourages us to always be ready to give a defense, but I am convinced that if our kids are still wrestling with the core truths of our faith, they will not be ready or even want to step up to defend it.
What Do They Need to Know?
I’m not talking about kids knowing information about their faith or having memorized a verse and being able to parrot back what they have been taught. When I speak of knowing, I am speaking of experiencing their faith, knowing with their whole being – heart, soul and mind. This is a knowledge that will not be rattled or waiver. It’s about knowing core truths that will be with them for life. It’s about truly understanding their faith and being willing to go to the wall for it.
Please understand; I am not talking about walking through a doctrinal statement. Doctrinal statements are great and serve a purpose, but what I mean is that kids need to personalize Biblical truth, personally know it, personally experience it. Each of us must move along this path for ourselves. As they say, God has no grandchildren. Each of us must have a personal faith of our own.
Kids will have their faith challenged at some point, if not now, then down the road. Their faith needs to have such depth that it will not be rattled. With a personalized faith, they will not waver, even if they don’t have an immediate answer for those who question them. Instead, they will know the key truth of their faith in such a personal way that that they will be willing to stand up for it.
So when kids graduate out of your children’s ministry, what do you want them to know?