“Can you really teach kids deep biblical truths?”
God tells us clearly in Psalm 78 that we are to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord.” Personally, I take that to mean all the Bible since clearly His glorious deeds start with Genesis 1 and continue through Revelation 22, with an amazing amount of the “glorious deeds of the Lord” in between.
In Deuteronomy 6 He tells us when to teach our children—“when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Again, I take that to mean we’re to be teaching our children all the time in whatever we’re doing.
So now that we’ve established that clearly God is telling us to teach our children, how do we do that in today’s fast-paced, crazy schedule world?
First, let’s start with some characteristics of what our children are like spiritually as they grow and develop. How and what can we teach them from God’s Word based on their development?
2- and 3-Year-Olds
- Cannot think abstractly
- Need simple and concrete examples
- Are curious about everything
- Are physically active
- Have limited small-motor skills
- Two’s have a limited 200-word vocabulary
- Three’s have a 1,500-word vocabulary
Did you read those last two things on the list? They are learning words so quickly that it is important to put “faith” words into their vocabulary! We begin to teach the vocabulary of faith by presenting Bible stories week after week. Even children this young are able to understand basic Bible truths. Some BIG questions they can answer are:
- Who made you? God.
- What else did God make? God made all things.
- Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory.
- Where is God? God is everywhere.
- Can you see God? No. I cannot see God, but He always sees me.
4- and 5-Year-Olds
- Attention spans last 5-10 minutes
- Literal thinkers
- Growing in independence
- Developing small muscle control
- Expanding vocabulary
- Formulate ideas through concrete experiences
When teaching 4- and 5-year-olds, it is important to give them concrete experiences. How? Take them on a creation walk to discover all God made. Build the walls of Jericho so they can walk around them and watch them fall. Teach motions when they sing and choose songs that teach great truths like “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Even children this young are able to put their trust in Christ and understand basic Bible truths.
Younger Elementary Children
- Think in literal and concrete terms
- Can follow specific instructions
- Have a lot of energy
- Want to please teachers
- Are developing hand-eye coordination
- Think in terms of good and bad
- Enjoy Bible stories and like learning from the Bible
- Understand God’s love through personal relationships
- Make conclusions about God in concrete terms
- Do not understand the spiritual nature of God
The relationships younger elementary kids have with their parents and teachers is so important. Remember to take this into consideration if you are rotating teachers every week. I know recruiting is the least favorite job of children’s ministry leaders, but it is so important for all ages (not just this one) to have consistency in teachers and to form those lasting relationships. Younger elementary children should be taught stories from the entire Bible as they begin to learn biblical truths. They are not ready developmentally to have a chronological look at the Bible, but they are learning how some stories relate to one another.
Middle Elementary Children
Middle elementary children are growing physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally at a rapid rate. How are they growing spiritually?
- Eager for more than just Bible stories
- Starting to relate individual Bible events to the scope of Bible history
- Want to know details and facts in Bible study
- Becoming conscious of self and of sin
- Often begin to feel the need for a more personal relationship with God
- Want to put into action what they have learned
Middle elementary is a great age to integrate Bible stories around themes such as worship, grace, missions, witnessing, trusting God, or servants of God. Because students at this age are developing skills of conceptual thinking, you should be emphasizing discovery of truths from Scripture through comparing, contrasting, and analyzing. At this age, their reading skills are so dramatically improved that it’s a great time to encourage a habit of personal devotion time during the week.
Older Elementary Children
Older elementary students, preteens, or tweens are quickly maturing—physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally.
- Understand the elements of the Christian faith
- Are able to understand the history and chronology of Scripture
- Are developing a value system
- Are finding out what it means to belong to Christ and His church
- Are learning to serve and show love to others on a deeper level
- Need encouragement in daily devotions
- Are learning to put into practice what they know from God’s Word
At this age, you do not want to miss the opportunity to lay a firm foundation of the history and chronology of the Bible! It is a wonderful time to help your kids see how God has revealed Himself in His Word through a survey of all the books of the Bible. Remember Psalm 78—The “glorious deeds of the Lord” aren’t only in Genesis, Exodus, the Psalms, and the Gospels. They are in the laments of the prophets, the failures of the kings, the wisdom of the poetry, and the letters to the churches. You want your kids to see that Jesus is central in all of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation.
Now that we’ve laid out some of the spiritual characteristics of our kids, let’s dig into more of the teaching. It’s important for our children to learn God’s Word, not just bits and pieces of stories but the whole story of the Bible. The Bible is one story about the One True God and Creator of the universe who amazingly loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. (Awesome!) In order for us to have that relationship with Him, He sent His Son, Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Even as Paul is telling us the Gospel, he is saying that this was what God’s Word had told us and that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Not only do we want our children to know the stories of the New Testament about Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, but we want them to know the stories of the Old Testament that point to Jesus.
- The story of God’s promise to Abraham that through him God would bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3) points to that blessing being Jesus.
- The story of God’s promise that the blood of the Passover lamb on doorposts would save the Israelites (Exodus 12) points to the Lamb of God, Jesus, whose shed blood would save me.
- The story of God’s promise to David that a king from his house would have a throne established forever (1 Chronicles 17) points to our King Jesus.
- The countless Old Testament prophecies, such as Isaiah 9:6, point to the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
- The fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises point to Jesus Christ as the Son of God in this amazing verse in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
These are just a few of the truths that we want our children to grasp as they grow into adulthood. To know and trust Jesus in a personal relationship—the One True God who loves His children with an everlasting love.
It is so exciting to see children begin to understand this legacy of faith they have as promised in the Scriptures. Hebrews 11 is not just a “Hall of Fame” of the Bible, it is the legacy of faith for us and for our children.
Faithfully teach God’s Word and wait to see what God does in the lives of your children. You know as well as I do that all of the hard things related to doing children’s ministry just disappear when we hear a little child confess his sin and receive Jesus as his Savior. Amen!
So the answer to the starting question, “Can you really teach kids deep biblical truths?” The answer is a resounding “YES.”