Wonder whether kids are listening when you teach? Fear your words go in one ear and out the other? When it comes to faith, here’s how to ensure kids are getting the message.
Is your teaching in one ear and out the other? Maybe—or maybe not.
Children’s ministry looks a lot different to me now than it used to. Over the past few years my understanding of the purpose behind children’s ministry has changed — dramatically. The goals I set and the approaches I take in teaching aren’t what they used to be. And — this may make you cringe — I’m beginning to realize that no matter how well I teach a lesson, much of what I say to a child in Sunday school may actually go in one ear and out the other. But that’s not because teaching is a waste of time or kids aren’t learning. It’s because as much as the amazing truths of our faith are difficult for adults to grasp, they can be even more difficult for children.
Faith: How to Ensure Kids Are Getting the Message
If you grew up going to church, think back to your Sunday school days. Maybe you remember a handful of specific things from memorable lessons. You could probably recount some main events of the Bible. But you likely didn’t grasp the deeper truths of Christianity until you were older — things such as grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice. That’s not because your teachers weren’t effective. It’s simply because developmentally kids learn on a spectrum that begins with concrete concepts and develops into deeper understanding of abstract ones. Kids build that bridge from the concrete to the abstract over years. They do it using the tools of discovery and repetition in sync with their brain’s development.
Many of the most important concepts in God’s Word are highly abstract. So when you wonder whether kids are getting the message, they are. It’s just that kids will absorb what they can when they’re developmentally ready.
But don’t be discouraged — you have very important work to do that’s essential to all kids “getting the message” as they grow and develop. While kids may not fully grasp many of the awesome and life-changing things you tell them about Jesus until later, you have the important task of providing them the tools to help them build a framework for the faith they’ll later step into.