When I was about 7 or 8, my mom began reading daily devotionals for kids to my sister and me at the breakfast table before school. She would read the story aloud, ask us questions, and then we'd talk about the applications to our lives, like how Jesus would want me to act toward the bully at school when I still wanted to be friends with her. I always appreciated her doing that with us. It helped me to see how Jesus was a part of my life in all areas, not just at church. It also showed me that spending daily time with God was important. My mom also read to us every night before bed, and I remember she would often read to us from our children's story Bible. I think I learned the majority of the Bible stories I knew as a child from her reading that Bible to us. I'm thankful for those practices that she instilled in me from an early age!
~Elizabeth Blankenbeckler, Kindergarten/First Grade Sunday School Teacher
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It All Starts with Questions
Often adults and kids can offer a basic explanation of Jesus dying in our place so that we can be forgiven of our sins and go to heaven. However, clarifying questions reveal the depth that the gospel has actually it into someone's heart. Here are some to get you started. These are great to ask in a one-on-one context.
What does someone have to do to become a Christian?
The key here is to look for answers like, "Go to church. Be baptized. Pray. Read the Bible. Etc." These are all part of what it means to live out the Christian life, so in a sense they're correct. But, scripture is clear that to become a Christian, to receive salvation, there is no work to be done on the human side of the equation. No hoop to jump through. It is all received by grace through faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
How sure are you that you’re going to heaven? Why?
Although the next life is not something that we can ever know with a 100% scientific certainty, the key here is twofold. 1) Look for answers that connect certainty of heaven with the amassing of good works. 2) Look for answers that connect doubt of heaven with the amassing of sin. Neither of these factor into why a human is saved.. Regardless of the number of good works or bad works, we're saved only by what Christ as done for us. God does not measure us with a scale. Two good passages that demonstrate this are Luke 18:9-14 & Luke 23:39-43.
What does it mean that Jesus is Lord and Savior?
The goal here is to see if your child understands that forgiveness can't be received without also declaring that Jesus is King and we are his servants. If your child sees the gospel as receiving a free pass out of hell and into heaven without also accepting Christ as Lord, then the gospel has still not been fully understood. Romans 6:1-14 is a great explanation of this concept.
What is the gospel?
There are many ways to articulate the gospel. Below is just one example. Try come up with single sentences ways to explain it together.
The Gospel: Jesus died and rose again to give us mercy and grace for our sin, so we can have a relationship with God and go to heaven!
Below are some Bible stories that illustrate what the gospel is. Read the passages together and talk through the questions as a family!
The Pharisee and The Tax Collector: Luke 18:9-14
The Thief on the Cross: Luke 23:39-43
The Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-24
Why was it wrong for the son to ask his father for his inheritance? [It was very insulting in that culture because the father had not yet died. It was like saying, "Dad I wish you were dead."]
The Jailor: Acts 16:1-34