Teaching Kids the Gospel

Teaching Kids the Gospel November 15, 2011

I was interviewed today by Jared Byas on some of my thoughts on teaching kids the Gospel.

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  • Micah

    Loved the interview. We are using this curriculum for our homeschool. (Daughter 5 and son 3) I really am impressed with it and my wife and kids love it. Thanks so much for putting this out there.


  • peteenns

    Thanks, Micah. It’s a huge project but worth all the effort.

  • Steve Wiebe

    In the article Enns says, “My sense as a father is that preschool is a time to make the faith of the parents a normal part of daily life—not a special Sunday thing, or even a “prayer before meals or bedtime” thing alone, but something that comes out of who you are as parents. Of course, that is a subtle and challenging way of life—not the stuff of a curriculum.”

    Good stuff I think.

    My problem with Sunday is that the Sunday morning show really does seem to be what Christianity is for a lot of people. Sometimes the show really is a production and sometimes people just show for the service and the social time. I like sermons (most of the time), but I don’t think Jesus died so that we would show up on Sunday and hear a sermon, worship, talk about the sermon, talk about church issues, socialize… I think Jesus lived and died for a reason beyond those things.

    The things of Sunday morning are meant to equip us – they are not meant to be all there is to our communities. If we look at the programming of any given church, they mostly offer a lot of services that benefit Christians. Jesus came for the lost sheep. The life we are called to is one that is meant to be a blessing to those outside of our communities – that is where Jesus shines and that is where we are made new and we are restored. Human instinct is self-preservation – we are selfish – we protect and take care of our own. Jesus calls us to look for those who are in need and fill those needs.

    If our kids see that in us, they will begin to understand the gospel.

    If our kids see us talking theology and simply taking care of each other, they will not get it.

    Sure, I’m a way better man because of what God has shown me and what I’ve learned through living as a Christian, and so I’m a better husband and father than I would have been, but if I leave it there, with my family and friends, then I am not living as Jesus did.

    I have started thinking that it might be better to reject a formal Sunday service and instead gather together to bless “the least of these;” if we take care of the poor, then we will be spending time with Christ and all of our talking – all of our words – all of the scripture we read and our children read, it will then make sense. It will make sense to us in far more profound way than it does in the confines of our buildings. And, it will make sense to our kids because they will not be able to argue that scripture brings life.

    Jesus is at the core a liberator. We need to seek out the oppressed in our communities and find a way to assist them in rising up. That is how Jesus spends his time. If we are doing that, then maybe we’re not spending time with him. And our kids won’t meet him.

    My son is trying to understand why Jesus died for us and is slowly putting the pieces in place and as I look at things, Sunday morning seems wrong. Jesus lived as a son, a friend, a teacher, a leader of a movement, a hero, a healer, a liberator for those who were sick, dead, hungry, diseased, disabled…. Jesus lived an amazing life and offered us life giving words challenging us to be something great.

    And he died for it.

    So, Sunday morning… its not cutting it. It almost feels like not going to church on Sunday morning might be better for him than going.

    Many churches really do go to bat for the poor. Many churches spend more time blessing the community than they do anything else – I wish I could find one. Many churches have adopted local services (shelters, schools, drop-ins, etc…) and are doing something to be a blessing to those people. Kids who are witnessing the gospel in action will get a far clearer picture of Jesus than typical church kids.

    I think the reason that most churches in North America don’t get this might be that we are rich (if we shelter and food to eat, then we are rich) and “its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Jesus died for more than “healthy church communities.” He died so that we might choose to live like Him and that means finding a way to connect with those who are suffering and who are in need in our communities. Jesus didn’t pay missionaries to go do it for him – he did it and he didn’t go travelling all over the world to do it – he was there for the locals (mostly). I’m not against helping people in far away places in the name of Jesus, but I think most of us feel we have done our part by giving in that way. I don’t think this teaches our kids about Jesus. Mission work is a valid worthwhile calling. Each of us need to be involved whether we are doing it abroad or at home and we cannot just set aside a week in every year to do it – it needs to be part of who we are. That’s what Jesus died for.

    A lot of non-believers have heard the words of Jesus accompanied by a carrot dangling out in front… people get the sense that Christians think they are dumb as donkeys. Car salesmen on TV selling the gospel have given people a bad taste in their mouths. Extremists on the news have given people a reason to think we are nuts and that we talk to much and that Jesus’ words are meaningless. Many people who have used the words of Jesus have victimized and abused non-believers…

    His words are powerful and life giving, but just as Jesus did, our actions must contribute and give evidence of the power of our words. In our age words are easy to come by. There is an overflow and we half-listen to everything, shutting out what we don’t want to hear. Words are cheap.

    The present generation does not want to hear the spiel. They want to try it – they want to see it in action. So, long before our words come out, our actions must speak for themselves. That will speak to non-believers. They may not accept the gospel, but they will not be able to deny its goodness, if we make sure we are living in the liberating, healing, blessing way that Jesus did.

    …And our kids will have a living breathing gospel to know and believe in. Our passion will be evident. If we talk about it, that won’t teach anything if we don’t live it.

    Developing a Sunday School curriculum, lesson planning, if we aren’t living the gospel as the primary purpose of the church, the we are simply attempting to convince kids to believe in something that isn’t there… “its somewhere else, but not here.”

    • David H

      Excellent comment Steve! We are to be the visible Christ to the world. What we do and/or say will have an eternal outcome whether or not we believe so.