I’ve spent a bunch of time talking with my kids about matters of the faith and theology. My most frequent question to them is, “Did what I say make sense?” Thankfully, they sometimes say yes, which is appreciated. Where they’re confused, we talk through the points of confusion, or we save it for a later time (particularly if a concept is just too big for them).
I’m glad that my kids are willing to ask these questions. I’m glad that they also put up with me sometimes talking over their heads and are willing to talk about where they’re confused. But I also know there’s a danger in going too far the other way. That is, offering answers that are unsatisfying.
Of being simplistic, rather than simple.
I read of a lot of pastors, bloggers, and researchers expressing their concerns about kids walking away from the faith and how best to reach the next generation. Some offer age groups as the answer. That is, reach people before they turn 14, and you’re golden. Others push fun or memorable experiences. So make church fun, and create positive associations. Others still talk about the importance of family worship—devotions, singing, and so forth.
I think there’s a lot of truth in all of these. But we’ve got to remember: kids can handle a lot more than we think they can. Their faith might be simple, but it is not simplistic. Indeed, as Spurgeon has said, “Simplicity of faith is akin to the highest knowledge. . . As soon as a child can sin, that child can, if God’s grace assists it, believe and receive the Word of God.”1
This is one of the things I love about so many resources available now for parents and churches. There are some beautifully written and crafted resources that teach the truths of the faith in a way that is easy for kids to understand. Trustworthy resources to help us as parents and kids ministry leaders and volunteers teach our children and encourage them to embrace the Christian faith for themselves.
The Gospel Project is a favorite for a church context, as well as around-the-table discussion (as longtime readers know, I was recommending it long before I worked for LifeWay). B&H’s It’s All About Jesus Bible Storybook is another helpful book,2 as is Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story, and many of R.C. Sproul’s books for children, like The Prince’s Poison Cup. I could easily give you a giant list of books that I love for kids, but that’s not why I’m writing this.
My point is to remind myself—even as I encourage you—to stay focused. Focus on simple, faithful, biblical teaching for kids. Keep Jesus front and center. Always be speaking the gospel, praying the gospel, sharing the gospel with them. That’s the best thing we can offer them, and the thing their hearts need most.