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Why should children’s ministry matter to those who love Jesus? Because Jesus Himself values little children. In Matthew 19:13—14, in contrast to the disciple’s irritation towards children, Jesus appreciates their attitude of utter dependence and invites them towards him. If our Savior appreciates little children, then so should we.
The best way to exhibit our concern for children of all ages is by teaching them the Bible because it provides knowledge of eternal life through Jesus Christ (1 John 5:13—14). In this article, I present 9 different ways to teach children of various ages God’s Holy Word.
- Christian Catechisms are an asset given to the church for a better understanding of the Bible. A catechism is a summary of biblical teachings in the form of questions and answers. This approach to teaching the Bible is confined to children who can read. However, just like we teach little children the alphabet, catechism’s can be a helpful tool to help children memorize big truths at an early age. There are many resources available in the marketplace, however, it would be wise to consult with the elders of your church to see which catechism fits within the covenant statement or beliefs of your church. I have personally found the following resource very helpful to teach the Bible children of all ages: Catechism for Children.
- Finding “easy-to-read” Bible versions for little children who can read and spending 30 minutes a day going through a particular passage is another helpful tool to teach children. Reading the Bible with children will require some planning since children tend to think multi-dimensionally. An example of a Bible for kids is an Illustrated Children’s Bible, which uses pictures to explain stories found in the Bible. (For example, here)
- If you are a pastor, then planning your children’s teaching curriculum in advance is another way to teach children the Bible. Oftentimes due to the busyness of life we tend to forget that addressing the children in our midst is important. We have used Truth 78 put out by “Children Desiring God” for our church and have found it to be useful for all age groups.
- Training gifted teachers is an additional element in giving your children the best Bible teaching. It has been observed that due to the scarcity of available Christian workers, church leaders tend to adopt an “if you have a pulse, then you’re in” attitude towards selecting teachers for children’s ministry. We must recognize and assign our best teachers for children’s ministry in our churches. For training purposes, we have used Truth 78 in our church.
- Reading Bible storybooks that elevate Jesus and elaborate on the gospel in a simple way is another way to teach children the Bible. This practice might be best for children within the age range of 2—9 years old. There are many useful resources available at www.forthetruth.in. I have found the book The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross a useful tool that clearly explains the gospel in a way that my little one can easily understand.
- Another way to address children of various age groups in the church is by setting time aside for them on Sunday. While the form might look different from church to church, what is important is to intentionally take time out to teach children the Bible every Sunday. Most churches in our country already do this, however, instead of focusing on keeping the children occupied through activities during this time, it might be best to systematically teach the Bible. While there might be various pedagogical styles employed by teachers, the heart of the issue is to teach them the Bible.
- Vacation Bible School can be a focused week in which we can take time to teach the Bible to children of all ages. Inviting children to join VBS during their summer holidays might be the best time. As an example, our church gathers at 8:00 in the morning, sings songs, listens to the Word, do age-appropriate activities related to the lesson, and provides homework which they take home and finish before the next day commences. The day ends with singing by 12:00 PM. Running a week-long teaching exercise for children takes a lot of planning and volunteers. Therefore, we have found that VBS provides us with opportunities for discipleship with the team of teachers and volunteers involved in the event.
- Having children who can comprehend concepts in your membership class is another way to teach children what your church believes about core issues as taught in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that they will automatically become church members, however, it might be a space in which a child can explore the authenticity of their faith. It is possible that through the baptism and membership class the child might come to faith and desire to be baptized.
- Pastor-friend, providing relevant application of the Bible to children listening to your preaching is another way to teach children the Bible. Expository preaching is the most important tool to speak biblical truths into the lives of little children. Therefore, showing children the meaning of the Bible intentionally can be helpful in teaching the Bible.
Given the lack of attention of little children, it might be best to provide a sheet of paper with your sermon outline so that they can follow along. Using easy-to-understand words or explaining difficult words can be useful in engaging children with your preaching.
Three main resources that you will need to teach children are time, the Bible, and intentionality. It takes hard work to use all these resources wisely at homes or churches. Many churches or parents/guardians are failing to teach children the Bible because they refuse to expend any resources on children. Teaching children the Bible is providing them with a way to be reconciled to their God and to find deeper meaning in this life. Children are valuable and so what better way to show them their worth than by using every opportunity to teach them God’s inspired Word!