Teaching Children About God
By Rosemary Dekker
After several years of studying God’s Word, I was asked to lead children…preschoolers no less. Yipes! I’ve learned that our Almighty God was preparing me for just such an assignment all along. Here are a few things to consider when teaching young children.
1. Pray first! You will need a child’s vocabulary when teaching God’s Word to them. Children learn by repetition so do not be afraid to repeat the teaching points of the lesson several times while telling the story. They also learn by what they see you do.
2. Keep in mind their attention span. Young children are very active and can only sit for short periods of time, (i.e. 2 year-olds 5 minutes, 3-4 year olds 10-15 minutes, 5-6 year olds 15-18 minutes).
3. Always have the Bible open and on your lap while telling the story. It makes sense does it not? If you are going to tell a Bible Story, a TRUE story to children, do not tell the story from a booklet or pamphlet, or a word document, or anything other than the Bible. Children will learn to love God’s Word from the ‘get go’ if you tell them where the story came from and why we know it to be a TRUE story.
REMEMBER: most of these children have never heard God’s Truths yet, so it is very important that you show your love for the Bible… they are watching you. For these young children you do not need to read right out of the Bible but you will need to have a great understanding of the story so be sure to allow the Holy Spirit to help you prepare the lesson by studying it first, you can use an index card with the teaching points you are aiming for listed and place it in your bible as a bookmark. Always show the children where the story comes from and pray together with them before you begin the story, just a simple prayer like” Dear God, help us to be still and listen to Your True Word today. In Jesus Name, Amen”.
4. Stick to the scripture! Use a child’s vocabulary but DO NOT change the text. These children are not going to get into a long discussion about the story with you. But your work will encourage them to ask their parents about what they learned, see Deut.4:9, 6:49 God’s commandment for parents. Do not add life applications when telling a story to children. The Holy Spirit will help them understand the meaning of a passage you are only His vessel.
5. Have Fun!! Children love to learn, why not teach them the truth? For the very young, you can use pictures of people while telling the story (try not to use cartoon pictures though). As they get older their imagination kicks in and you will be able to capture their attention to your teaching points by being more animated. The Holy Spirit has given me several ideas over the years to get His message across to His children: Become one of the side characters in the story and take them back in time on a time machine…” which runs on FAITH not gas like your parents mini-van, so close your eyes and reach out with your hand because
FAITH means that we believe even though we cannot touch or see Jesus. We will be traveling to Thessalonica today, that is a big city. Let’s say that word together 3 times and when we open our eyes we will be in Thessalonica . . .“ Once you ‘land’ in Thessalonica you can describe what you see and tell the story of Paul teaching about Jesus.
6. Ask them questions after the story. Keep the questions related to your teaching points and limit them to the age group: ask 2 questions to the 2 year olds, ask 3-4 questions to the 3-4 year olds and so on. It might help if the answers to the questions for a 2 year old is always “God” to start them out. Always praise them for answering and listening to a story.
Over the past 3 years of teaching preschoolers I have been lead by the Holy Spirit to teach adults. I have found that many of these tips work for new believers as well as mature Christians. The simple task of making bible study fun is always encouraging. It removes any intimidating factors that hinder God’s work in us AND can be helpful to encourage further study by God’s students. Its a win win situation!!
Praise God for His gift of teaching His Word everyday!
Rosemary Dekker, Toledo OH
Excerpted from 2006 Brooke Associates
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”