Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Jesus Part 1

 

“The Son is the gleaming brightness of God’s glory. He is the exact likeness of God’s being. He uses His powerful word to hold all things together. He provided the way for people to be made pure from sin. Then He sat down at the right hand of the King, the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NIrV)

God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved – through Jesus! Jesus did something no one else could do. He took the punishment for the sins of the entire world, and made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. God sent Jesus to die for us because He loves us. Jesus came into the world to save sinners from death so that we can go to heaven and live with God forever.

When talking with kids about Jesus it’s important to tell them who He is and what He has done. In part one I will talk about who Jesus is.

Who is Jesus?

“In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIrV)

“The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the one and only Son. He came from the Father. And he was full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIrV)

“In his very nature he was God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to. Instead, he made himself nothing. He took on the very nature of a servant. He was made in human form. He appeared as a man. He came down to the lowest level. He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death. In fact, he died on a cross.” Philippians 2:6 (NIrV)

Jesus is totally God and totally human at the same time. This is hard to understand, but the Bible tells us it’s true, so we can believe it and trust it.

Jesus is God

  • That means he is perfect and holy. Jesus has never done anything wrong ever.
  • Jesus did the kind of things only God does.
    • Jesus made a huge storm stop – just like that. He had control over the wind and the waves and the storm. They obeyed Him. Only God has that kind of power.
    • Jesus healed people and made food appear out of nowhere. Only God has that kind of power.
    • And Jesus forgave sin – remember the guy who was lowered down through the roof. Jesus made him walk again, but Jesus also forgave his sins. Only God can forgive sin.

[**Here you may want to have a brief discussion about the Trinity. Kids will pick up on the fact that you have talked about God and now you are talking about Jesus who is God. The trinity is a concept that even adults have a hard time understanding, but it is important that you give kids a basic understanding:

There is 1 God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 – Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God.

There is only one God but three persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is hard to understand, even for grownups. We know it is true and we choose to believe and trust it. We can ask God to help us understand and to help us believe even when we don’t understand.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 20:19**]

Jesus is Human

  • Jesus was born a long time ago – over 2000 years ago. Jesus was a baby and He grew. He became a boy and kept growing, just like we do, until He became an adult. Jesus was a real person.
  • The Bible tells us that He felt pain, He got tired, He cried. Jesus got hungry and Jesus felt sleepy. So Jesus understands what it’s like. Jesus understands us.

In part 2 I will address the question, “What did Jesus do?”

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Sin

Once you have shared with kids the wonderful truth that God is; God is eternal and holy and righteous and their Creator King; you need to share with them the truth about sin.

What is sin?

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Sin is:

  • disobeying God
  • wanting to do things our way, instead of God’s way
  • breaking God’s rules

We haven’t obeyed God’s rules perfectly all the time. We have all fallen short of His standard of living. God is in charge and he has made a standard (or rules) of how we should live and all of us have broken the rules. No one can live up to the standard God has given.

Who has sinned?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23.

“There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20

God is holy and because God made us to be like him, we must be holy too. But we’re not – we’re not pure. We have all sinned. The bible says that every single person has sinned.

When did sin start?

The Bible tells us about the first sin. Adam & Eve disobeyed God in Genesis chapter 3.

Since then, everyone is born a sinner. We were born with a desire to sin; a “want to” to sin.

We cannot obey God perfectly, no matter how hard we work at it. We have a sin nature that makes us like the wrong things & makes us want to do the wrong things.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

Why is sin a problem?

Sin is a huge problem because God and sin do not go together. God made us so we could have a relationship with Him. Because of sin, we are separated from God. We cannot have a right relationship with God because of our sin.

Sin gets in the way of our relationship with God because God hates sin! Sin is not okay with God, not even 1 sin. God can’t stand sin. God is holy and we are sinners. Sin needs to be dealt with if we are going to have a relationship with God.

Illustration: Make a sign that says ‘sin’ and a sign that says ‘God.’ Put the signs up as far apart from each other as you can. Say, “God and sin do not go together. We have learned that we are all sinners. So, we are all over here [point to ‘sin’ sign.] How do we get over there? [point to ‘God’ sign.]

Illustration: Make a whole bunch of papers that say ‘sin.’ Pile them up in front of you. Make a few papers that say ‘good deed.”’ Take one paper out of the pile. “What if I only did this one sin? Would that be okay?” Put it back in the pile. “Even 1 sin makes us guilty of all. What if I worked really hard and was really good. Would that take care of the sin? Like I am making up for my bad thing with a good thing.”  Put 1 ‘good deed’ paper beside the sin pile. “Hmmm. How about doing something else good? (put another ‘good deed’ paper by the pile) No amount of good deeds can pay for sin.”

What is the punishment for sin?

“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23.

We are sinners and God is just (that means He is fair) and righteous (always does what is right). Because God is just, He has to punish sin; He can’t ignore the rules. And we all know that we haven’t followed God’s rules. We have disobeyed God’s rules.

Since God makes the rules, He also decides on the punishment for breaking the rules. Because God is righteous, we know that the punishment will be right. Because God is just, we know that the punishment will be fair.

God says that the punishment for sin is death. That doesn’t mean that when you sin you are going to drop dead immediately! It’s eternal death – being separated from God forever; not being able to live forever with God in heaven.

God can’t ignore our sin; He can’t pretend that it hasn’t happened or that we don’t deserve eternal death. God is just and so, God must and will punish our sin.

That’s a pretty huge punishment!

What if you told a little lie? That’s not such a huge thing; the punishment for it would be small, like having to say you’re sorry and telling the truth.

But what if you did something really, really bad? You would expect to be punished a lot! Like being grounded for weeks and weeks or having your favorite video game being taken away.

Is the punishment for our sin little or big? Well, eternal death is a big punishment; that means that our sin must be really big to deserve that kind of punishment.

Think about the punishment for sin and you will start to realize just how bad our sin really is.

What can we do about sin?

There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. It’s already too late. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves. We can’t work hard enough; we can’t be good enough.

 

Telling kids about sin is vital. Kids need to understand that they are sinners and that sin is a huge problem that they cannot fix. This is a big concept to understand. Let kids sit with it for a while. Give them a chance to mull it over. Give them a chance to realize that it is personal. All have sinned – them means me!

But always leave kids with the hope of a solution to that problem! God is our good & loving King and He is kind to sinners. He hasn’t treated us the way we deserve. God has a plan. God made a way for sin to be punished and for sinners to be saved! God sent Jesus to take our punishment and be our Savior!

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about God

When I share the gospel, I always start with God.

Kids need to know that God is. God is real, God is amazing, God is eternal and holy and righteous. God created them and loves them.

I struggle with focus when I share with kids about God. There is so much to tell them! There are so many things to share about how awesome God is that I am tempted to spend all my time talking about the greatness of God. But it is important to focus. When sharing the gospel, there are attributes of God that it is key children understand – God is eternal; God is Holy; God is righteous; and God is our Creator King.

God is Eternal

Eternal means that God has no beginning and no ending. God was never born and God will never die; God has always been and will always be. God is forever.

God has always lived – before you were born, before your parents were born, before the universe was created.

God will always be – think about the future; think about heaven that will be even millions of years from now.

No matter how far back you go or how far forward, God is there because God is eternal.

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

Illustration: Show a circle (a hula hoop is a good example, if it’s new!) Ask the kids to show you the beginning. Ask them to show you the end of the hula hoop. “There is no beginning or end because it is a circle. It goes on and on and on and on and on. That is a little like what it means that God is eternal – He is forever. God has no beginning and no ending.”

God is holy

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Revelation 4:8a

Holy means 2 things:

1. God is totally unique

There is no one else in the entire world like God. No one else even comes close to being like God. He is special. God is different from everything else. He is separate; He is one-of-a-kind.

“How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”           Isaiah 46:9b

2. God is absolutely pure

He is 100% good. He has never done anything wrong, ever and He never will. There is no evil in Him at all. He is completely separate from all that is wrong or impure or sinful. He can’t even stand sin to be anywhere near Him, He is so good. God cannot stand sin; He hates it. God is perfect in every way.

“He is the Rock. His works are perfect. All of his ways are right. He is faithful. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He is honest and fair.” Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIrV)

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.”                   Habakkuk 1:13a

Illustration: “Think of a treasure like a diamond. Diamonds that are very valuable have no defects; there are no bad spots; nothing is wrong with them; they are pure.” (Show a diamond – I have found large pretend diamonds at dollar stores.) “That is a little like what it means that God is pure. There is absolutely no sin – God is 100% good.”

God is righteous

Everything He thinks, says, and does is right.

Everything God thinks is right (point to your head); everything God says is right (point to your mouth); and everything God does is right (point out) (when you say’ right’, give a thumbs up.)

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”         Psalm 33:4

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.”       Psalm 145:17

Illustration: Hold up a card that says, “2 + 2 =” Say, “Let’s pretend that this is a question on a test. There is a right answer and there is a wrong answer. If I answered ‘5’ would I be right or wrong? The right answer is 4. There is right and there is wrong. God is always right. God is righteous. Everything He thinks, says, and does is right!”

God is our Creator King

God is the creator of everything. He made everything by Himself.

God made you and God made me. The Bible says that we are created in the image of God. That means we were made to be like Him in certain ways. God has given us minds so that we can learn about Him and hearts so that we can love Him. God created us so we can have a special relationship with Him.

Because God made everything, everything belongs to Him. He is the boss. He is in charge. God is the King of His creation.

As King, God gets to make the rules. God is righteous, so His rules are right. God is good, so His rules are good.

God made us; He is our King. We need to obey Him.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

“I am the Lord. I have made everything. I alone spread out the heavens. I formed the earth by myself. Isaiah 44:24 (NIrV)

Illustration: Use Lego and create something. Tell the kids, “Look what I made. I created it. I used Lego to make this ____. The Bible tells us that God made everything. What are some of the things that God has made?” Let the children answer. “I made this ____ so it’s mine. It belongs to me. God made the world and everything in it, so it belongs to God. God created you and me, we belong to God, God is our King.”

 

In the next post, this series continues with talking about sin.

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Introduction

Over the next few posts I want to talk about sharing the gospel with kids. This is a hugely important part of children’s ministry.

For the past 5 years I have told the story at our VBS. I love it! I love engaging and interacting with kids. I love sharing the gospel with kids.

Each year as I prepare to share the gospel I am struck by the weight of my responsibility. It is my responsibility to share the gospel truthfully, accurately, and in a way that kids will understand. I am humbled every year that I get the privilege of sharing this great truth with the kids of my community.

I am also reminded of what isn’t my responsibility. I am not the one who saves children – God does that! God softens hearts and draws kids to Himself. My job is to share the truth of the gospel and then let God transform lives!

So, in this series I will break down the gospel message and share with you how I have explained difficult concepts to kids. I will also be sharing some fabulous resources to use in helping kids to understand the gospel.

Come back soon!

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Don’t miss the opportunity to share the gospel with kids this Easter!

Here are 4 tips for sharing the gospel with kids during Easter:

1. Be intentional about weaving the gospel into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection

When you tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection to the children in your ministry, include the gospel. Children will not understand why Jesus had to die if we don’t tell them about God’s holiness and people’s sinfulness and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. When we share the truth of the gospel, we give the kids something to really celebrate Easter morning.

2. Redeem crafts and games

I recently did a craft with my class of preschoolers. The original instructions were to color and glue two popsicle sticks together to make a cross. Stand it in some modeling clay and add a swath of red felt and some flowers at the base. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to tell the kids what the red felt was supposed to be, so I decided not to add it at all. Instead, I printed off small rectangles of card stock that read, “Jesus is our Mighty Savior!” As we were making the craft, we focused on what it means that Jesus is our Savior. Now, when the kids look at their cross crafts, they will hopefully be reminded that Jesus is a mighty Savior.

As you are planning crafts and games to play, take time to think about what the game or craft focuses on. Don’t be afraid to change or refine them to highlight a gospel theme. Redeem the craft or game you are playing by using the opportunity to share the gospel.

3. Use the symbols of Easter

It’s important not to make assumptions about what children understand. Especially when it comes to symbols, it’s important to explain what they mean to children. The cross is probably the biggest symbol of Easter. Children will recognize a cross having seen it in churches, on necklaces, etc, but it is unlikely that children will understand what it symbolizes. Explain simply that a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our Savior. When you explain what it means that Jesus is our Savior, you are sharing the gospel. Tell children that when we see a cross, it helps us remember that Jesus died to take away our sins. Jesus saved us from our sin. Jesus is our Savior.

I played a game with my preschool class called Hide the Cross. It was a hide and seek game where one child hid the cross and the rest of the class found it. If I had just played the game with the kids without talking about why we were using a cross, we would have had fun, but I would have missed an opportunity to share the gospel with my class. Instead, I told them that we were using a cross because a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our mighty Savior. Jesus is mighty; that means He is strong! Jesus is our Savior; that means that He died to save us from our sin. Jesus is our Mighty Savior!

4. Gospel-centered activities

There are many activities connected with Easter. Many of these activities do not focus on Jesus or the life-changing message of the gospel. Turn those activities into gospel-centered activities.

At Christmas, it is quite common to see Nativity sets in homes and at churches. Nativity Sets highlight the true meaning of Christmas and if they are child-friendly, allow children to interact with the story. Something similar can be done for Easter.

Make a diorama of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is a great deal to be learned by making the key characters with your children and using them to tell the story over Easter weekend. You may choose how many characters are necessary for your ministry based on your children’s ages and how detailed you want your re-enactment to be. You can create your characters and set with play dough, clay dough, cardboard, etc. A basic set would include Jesus, a cross, a couple of guards, a tomb with stone, and an angel. As you re-enact the story over the actual time frame of the weekend it makes children (and adults) more aware of the hours Jesus suffered and the days his followers waited in fear and confusion. It also highlights the wonderful surprise of the empty tomb.

If you are looking for a snack idea, try Resurrection Buns. Form some dough around a marshmallow. When baked, the marshmallow melts so there is a hollow space in the middle. As you enjoy these snacks with your children, talk about how they remind us of the empty tomb. The empty tomb shows that Jesus is a Mighty Savior! Follow this link for a recipe for Resurrection Buns.

If you choose to have an egg hunt, you could hide plastic eggs with verses or symbols of Easter within them and after they have been found, gather together to read or talk about the significance of each. A few of them could be left empty as well, as a reminder of the empty tomb. A few treats mixed in will also be appreciated.

There are many activities to offer children over Easter. Take the time to plan gospel-centered activities that will provide children with more than just a fun time.

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to share the gospel with kids this Easter! Give them something to celebrate! By being deliberate about sharing the gospel with kid this Easter you are making it all about Jesus, our Mighty Savior.

Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought Him back to life. (1 Peter 3:18 NIrV)

Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15 NIrV)

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