Recommended Resources for Helping Kids Understand the Gospel

1. Helping Children to Understand the Gospel – Children Desiring God

This resource is written in 3 parts. Parts 1 &2 are about preparing children for the gospel and presenting the gospel to children. Part 3 is 10 essential truths of the gospel. I like how part 3 is laid out. The key point is clearly stated, scripture is listed, a kid-friendly explanation is offered, and then various illustrations are provided.

“God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved.”

I love this statement and use it often when is share the gospel with kids. It is short and easy to remember and full of hope!

2. Big Truths for Young Hearts – Bruce A. Ware

Bruce Ware is a professor of theology. Big Truths for Young Hearts is his effort to explain big theological truths to children. This is a great resource!

This book is more than a resource for helping kids understand the gospel. But there is great stuff in it to help you share the gospel with kids. Ware has a great way of explain deep theological truths in ways that kids can understand.

“To believe in Christ (or trust in Christ or put faith in Christ) means to count or rely completely on what Christ has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right in God’s sight is all because of Christ and has nothing to do with any good thing that I might ever say or do.”

3. Leading Kids to Jesus – David Staal

This book is about having one-on-one conversations about faith. The author does a good job of helping the reader to understand the dynamics of communicating with kids. I also like the focus given on helping the reader figure out how to share their own testimony with kids.  Another very good section of this book deals with questions kids might ask and how to answer them.

“Even though we deliver the message, true comprehension and conviction comes solely as a result of the Holy Spirit. To that end, no matter how well we word the gospel, different kids will require different quantities of time to fully understand. Give them as much as they need.”

4. Gospel Flipper Flapper – Child Evangelism Fellowship

I love using this tool to share the gospel with kids! One year at VBS we passed them out to 130 kids and together we flipped and flapped and the kids were actively engaged as the gospel message was told.

This tool uses colors and symbols as a starting point for sharing the gospel. You flip the flaps to reveal a yellow circle (God who is holy), a black heart (all have sinned), a red cross (Jesus died for our sins); and a white heart (salvation is offered to those who repent and believe). The kids love figuring out how to flip the flaps! Have fun with this inexpensive yet effective tool for sharing the gospel with kids!

5. In Search of the Greatest Treasure Comic Booklet – Campus Crusade for Christ

I have used this comic booklet for a few years now. The illustrations are great and the gospel is clearly presented with a focus on Jesus. For VBS, our counselor s use this as they talk one-on-one with kids and we give them out to all who attend.

 

There are a lot of resources out there. These are just 5 that I have used extensively and would highly recommend.

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7 Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Kids

Sharing the gospel with kids is a huge privilege!! It is also a heavy responsibility. Here are 7 tips for sharing the gospel with kids:

1. Back up what you say with Scripture

Kids need to know that you are telling them what the Bible says and not just what you think about the gospel. For every key point that you share with kids, back it up with Scripture. When you tell kids that God is holy, read from the Bible that God is holy. When you tell kids that we are sinners, read from the Bible where it says that all have sinned.

2. Use a Bible and have kids use their Bibles

This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1. Use a Bible when you share the gospel with kids. Hold it, open it, and read from it. The Bible is God’s Word and therefore wholly trustworthy and true. So use it! Encourage kids to use their own Bibles as well. It’s okay if different translations are used. Get the kids into their Bibles, checking that what you are saying is what the Bible says. Have Bibles available to give away to children who don’t have one.

3. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game

It can be too easy to get caught up in how many kids are being saved. Don’t let this distract you. Remember, God is the one who saves. God will do his work. Each child is special and there is cause for rejoicing for each one who chooses to follow Jesus. Celebrate each child saved and give God the glory!

4. Highlight the key points

There are some heavy theological truths in the gospel message. It can become too easy to get bogged down in explanations. Highlight the key point you want the kids to learn. This will help you not to get distracted. Teach one thing; even when sharing the gospel!

5. Kids, especially young ones, are literal

Be careful with the words and phrases you use when sharing the gospel with kids. Kids, especially young ones will take what you say literally. If you tell kids they can ask Jesus into their heart, the young ones will literally think Jesus is somehow entering their actual hearts. I remember a parent once telling me about her daughter who was about 3 or 4. She came in the room crying and very upset. Her mom asked her what happened and the daughter replied that she fell down on her chest. It didn’t seem that she was hurt too badly, so her Mom asked her why she was so upset. The girl replied, “I think I may have hurt Jesus!”

Older kids may not think so literally anymore, but such phrasing can distract them. They may lose focus and start thinking about how it might actually work to have Jesus come into their hearts.
Use words and phrases that make sense to kids. Teach them Biblical words and theological words, but explain them well.

6. Give them time

Kids may need to hear the truth of the gospel many times before they are ready to give their lives to Jesus. That’s okay. As they grow they can better understand the truths of the gospel. Also, kids need time to realize that the gospel message is personal. Kids are in a stage of constant learning. The truth of the gospel is information for them to learn and absorb. It may take them some time to realize that our holy Creator-King loves them; that they have sinned and are in desperate need of saving; that Jesus came to save them; that by dying on the cross, He took the punishment for their sins.

Don’t rush kids. Give them time.

7. Pray

Pray before you present the gospel to kids. Pray that God would soften their hearts and prepare them to accept the truth of the gospel. Pray as you present the gospel. Pray that you would speak only truth and pray that the kids listening will accept it. Pray after you present the gospel. Pray that the truth of God’s Word would sink deep into the hearts of the children who heard it. Pray for true repentance. Pray for transformation. Pray for lives to be saved.

It’s a great privilege to share the gospel with kids. Don’t dumb it down for them. Give them the whole truth, explaining new or difficult concepts in ways that kids will understand.

I love this quote of Tedd & Margy Tripp from their book Instructing a Child’s Heart,

“We give our children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of.”

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Following Jesus Part 2

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit

“But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

The Holy Spirit helps us grow to be more like Jesus!

Even though we have been forgiven for our sins, we still sin sometimes. We still make the wrong choices. Because we are following Jesus, doesn’t make us perfect.

We need help to choose to do right. We need help too to obey Jesus and live the way He wants us to. Once we become a follower of Jesus, we spend the rest of our lives growing and becoming more like Jesus. But we can’t do it on our own. We need help.

Jesus promised to help us. He promised to give us a Friend who would help us become more like Him.

Jesus made a promise. Even though He was leaving and going back to heaven, He was going to send a Friend who would help us. This Friend will teach us; this Friend will remind us of what Jesus said.

This friend is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Remember, I said that there is 1 God, in 3 persons – God, the Father; God, the Son (that’s Jesus); and God, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives inside all believers, helping them to obey Jesus and helping them to become more and more like Jesus.

What was Jesus like? He was obedient, humble, faithful, kind, loving, compassionate, focused.

The Bible says that when we let the Holy Spirit work in our lives, we start to behave and act differently. When we let the Holy Spirit work in us, we become more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, and more patient. We become kinder. The result is goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.

“But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself.” Galatians 5:22-23

Followers of Jesus tell others about Jesus

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15

The bible tells us to always be ready to tell people about Jesus and how he saved us.

If people ask us about Jesus, we need to be ready to tell them all about Him. The only way we will be ready to do that is by reading our bibles and talking to Him everyday.

We need to be able to tell people that God is holy and can’t stand sin; that people are sinners and have broken God’s rules; that God decided the punishment for sin was death; that God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved; that Jesus was our substitute when He died on the cross; that Jesus took the punishment for our sins; that we need to repent and believe in Jesus.

Followers of Jesus follow Him forever

Jesus has promised that when you die He will bring you to heaven to live with God. That is eternal life – living forever with God!

“There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  John 14:2-4

There is a cost to following Jesus, but God has promised a huge reward for everyone who trusts in Jesus – a reward that is so great and exciting that it is better than anything we can even imagine.

What is it? Eternal life! – living forever with God in heaven. Heaven is a real place where everyone who is trusting in Jesus will someday go to live. The Bible tells us a little of what heaven is like. In heaven there will be no sin, no more crying, or hurting or pain and no more death. But the best part of heaven is that Jesus will be there! We will finally get to see Jesus!

 

The last post in this series is a conclusion. I will share some tips for sharing the gospel with kids.

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Following Jesus Part 1

“Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIrV)

Salvation is a free gift offered to you by God and it is given to everyone who truly repents and is trusting in Jesus. But this free gift will cost you your whole life! What does that mean? It means that when we accept God’s gift of salvation, we are choosing to follow Jesus. We are putting our complete trust in Him. We are admitting that we need Him, we love Him, and we will obey Him every day. It means you must do things Jesus’ way instead of your own way. It means every day you must trust and follow Jesus for the rest of your life.

Living life Jesus’ Way

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus tells us in the Bible what following Him looks like. People who want to follow Jesus need to say no to themselves and say yes to Jesus. This means a change in how we think. Instead of doing things our way and only caring about what we want to do, we need do things Jesus’ way and care about what Jesus wants us to do.

When Jesus says we must pick up our cross, He is talking about being willing to give up our lives for Him. The cross was a way they killed people back when Jesus lived. When he said the word, “cross,” the people listening understood exactly what He meant. We don’t use crosses anymore, so we don’t really understand. But we can understand that Jesus wants us to make Him more important than our lives! We need to say that Jesus is the most important thing in our lives – everyday! Every day, we need to think, “Jesus, You are more important than my PS2. Jesus, You are more important than my cool, new bike. Jesus, You are more important than my Mom and Dad, even.”

When we repent and believe in Jesus, we are putting Jesus in charge of our lives. Now, we do what Jesus wants us to do. The things that are important to Jesus should be the things that are important to us. In order to find out what is important to Jesus, we have to get to know him better.

Illustration: “Imagine a castle; inside the castle is the throne room where the King sits. Picture the throne. The one who sits on the throne is the King – the one in charge. Now, imagine one of the servants in the castle sitting on the throne instead of the King. Is that right? Is the servant in charge? No, the King is. That is a little like what happens when we decide to be in charge of our lives instead of letting Jesus be in charge. Jesus is the King; Jesus should be sitting on that throne.”

We need to let Jesus take charge and we need to listen and do what Jesus says to do. We don’t want to be that servant who sits on the throne. The servant is not in charge – just like we are not in charge. We need to let Jesus be in charge and we need to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to.

Spending time with Jesus/Becoming More Like Jesus

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Jesus.” Philippians 3:8

So, we have decided to follow Jesus and put our trust completely in Jesus. Now, we want to live our lives obeying Jesus. As we live like that, we become more and more like Him!

Illustration: Show a gold coin. Say, “This is a gold coin. It’s pure gold – it’s worth a lot!” Then show a big diamond. “This is a big, beautiful, pure diamond. A big diamond is worth more than a gold coin. When you look at them together, the gold coin almost seems worthless compared to the big, beautiful diamond.” Throw the gold coin in the garbage. “When you realize what something is worth, it changes how you act toward it and how you treat it. That’s a little like how our relationship with Jesus is. The big diamond was priceless. Once you understand the real value of Jesus, other things just don’t compare to Him.”

The more we get to know Jesus, the more we will want to spend time with Him. More and more He will become the most important person in our lives. Knowing Jesus is priceless. Everything else in our lives seems worthless when compared to Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is the best – better than your friends, better than having money, better than having lots of toys, better than anything. The man who wrote this verse understood how valuable Jesus is and when He compared Jesus to everything else he had in his life, he realized that it was not worth hanging on to; he was willing to get rid of all it (like getting rid of garbage) if He could have Jesus.

How can we learn from Jesus, the Master and be more like Him? Well, to learn from Jesus and become more like Him, we have to know Him.
The best way to get to know Him is to spend time with Him.

We can get to know Jesus better by:

1. Reading the bible

  • Your Bible is where you will discover Jesus! You will find out what He was like, what He did, what He said, and how He wants you to live your life. It’s so important.
  • The books in the Bible that tell us about Jesus are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those are the 1st books in the New Testament part of the Bible. Start there – but then keep reading! Read the whole Bible – discover God and His plan for His people.
  • So, spend time every day reading the Bible. That is one way we can spend time with Jesus.

2. Talking to him (that’s called prayer)

  • It’s a little different than talking to other people, because we can’t see Jesus. But we can know that He hears us.
  • Talk to Jesus; tell Him everything. Tell Him about school and your family and your friends. Tell Him how you are feeling. Remember, He understands what it’s like. Tell Him that you love Him and want to be more like Him.
  • Praying is talking to God. Following Jesus means having a relationship with Him – getting to know Him better. That means talking to Him. So, talk to Jesus everyday – about everything!

Live every day with Jesus!

Part 2 will be about telling kids about the Holy Spirit who is our special friend and telling others about Jesus.

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Salvation Part 2

BELIEVE IN JESUS

Believing in Jesus means that you believe true things about Him. You believe that He is God’s Son, that He never sinned, that He died on the cross, that He was punished for your sin, that He is alive and living today. You believe that He is the only one who can save you and bring you to heaven to live forever with God.

But believing in Jesus is not just about knowing and agreeing with true things about Jesus.

Illustration: For example, let’s pretend that I am on vacation. I have decided to go scuba diving. I’m in the boat in the middle of the ocean, but before I can get any of my gear on, a freak storm comes up and our boat sinks. I am in the water with nothing. I need someone to save me. A rescue helicopter arrives and a man jumps out wearing the full gear. Now, I can believe that this man is a fully trained rescue diver, but if I am afraid to swim to him and hang on to him and let him get me safely out of the water, I am showing that I do not really believe in his ability to rescue me. If I believe that he is good at his job, I should trust in his ability to rescue me and not be afraid. That is a little like what it means to believe in Jesus. (Use an inflatable saving device as a prop.)

Believing in Jesus means that you trust him to save your life. You are depending on him. You are putting all your confidence in him. You believe he died on the cross for YOU not just for other people. You believe that he will bring YOU to heaven to live forever with God.

So, to believe in Jesus (or trust in Jesus or put faith in Jesus) to depend completely on what He has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right before God is all because of Jesus and has nothing to do with any good thing I might ever say or do.

This faith we put in Jesus involves a hope in Jesus and a love for Jesus that leads us to obey Jesus.

Repentance and belief always go together. If you believe in Jesus (if you trust Jesus) you will also repent of your sins. If you truly repent, you will also live to obey Jesus, trusting Him to save your life and help you live for Him.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

The next post is all about talking with kids about what it means to follow Jesus.

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