Many Christian families wind up having their kids go to Sunday school from the time they were toddlers, but then wonder why, when these kids reach the teenage years, they suddenly rebel and behave as though they never really knew Jesus. In reality, many of these kids may have been “church-grown” but never really had a personal relationship with Jesus, which is the essence of Christianity.
Christianity for kids is never about simply getting them to behave right. Many parents and Sunday school teachers struggle with this, because the pressure of having the kids interact with many other adults around, such as during Sunday worship service wherein many adults only aim to keep the kids quiet and occupied while the adults sing worship songs and listen to the Word of God being preached.
Since Christianity is not about a set of rules of behavior and is instead about a relationship with Jesus, Christianity for kids should also hinge on this truth. Thankfully, a paradigm shift is happening in the body of Christ worldwide, wherein children are now seen as individuals who can enjoy a vibrant relationship with Jesus. How do you, as a parent or a Sunday school teacher, achieve this goal with the kids in your life?
- They need to know who Jesus is. Children are naturally inquisitive, and when you or other adults around them are seen praying, or in a simple sense, talking to God, they will tend to ask what you are doing. When that happens, instead of using spiritual language like “praying,” “fasting,” “worshipping,” you can describe it as “talking” with Jesus, as that will make Him personal to little ones. Telling stories from the Bible about Jesus and what He did while He walked on earth is also a good way of making Him seem to children like a real Person, a Friend they can count on and actually get to know.
- Tell them again and again what Jesus did and does for them. It is fairly easier to tell little ones that Jesus does things for them in the present, such as buying their presents or stuff like that. But it can be a bit more difficult to tell them what happened on the cross, although that is essentially what a person needs to know in order to believe in Jesus and be, in terminology, a Christian. The interesting thing is, the gospel is something that is actually simple enough for little children to understand. You can use parables that Jesus Himself told to introduce little children to the truth of the gospel: for example, the story of the lost sheep is something that even a two-year-old can understand and even retell, that there’s a shepherd who lost a lamb and went all the way to look for it, fighting wolves and lions along the way. Children can easily relate to Jesus as being like that shepherd, and as you build on the foundation of these type of stories, you can soon tell them that Jesus died on the cross so they would not have to be punished. You can introduce worship songs at this stage, too, as a way to retell the story. For example, the Awesome God by Songs 4 Worship: Kids is a great album for telling the works of God.
- Let them know they can talk to Jesus. Not only do they get to see who Jesus is through stories, you can also encourage them to talk to Jesus themselves. They can do it by simply talking about anything at night, before they go to sleep. Kids as young as toddler age can learn to thank Jesus for the food they eat without making the prayer seem like a ritual; it will also be a good idea to have them tell Jesus about things that they went through during the day, including happy things and getting bruises or wounds. For older children, you can teach them that they can also actually sing what they feel. A good way to introduce the idea of singing one’s feelings is to buy them kids’ worship CDs, like the Cedarmont Worship for Kids 1. Sometimes, worship songs are marketed as something that kids “need” to do, but when you introduce your kids to the truth that singing worship songs is simply communicating with Jesus, you are well on your way to seeing them develop their own relationship with Him.
These should get you started laying the foundation for your child’s vibrant walk with Jesus. Christianity for kids will never be the same again!