From the account of Cain murdering Abel, to David committing
adultery with Bathsheba, to the woman at the well's five husbands,
to the beheading of John the Baptist, the Bible is fraught with
some gruesome and disturbing accounts that expose humankind's
sinful nature. Whether it's dodging narratives of brutal murder,
rape, and incest or navigating Jesus' crucifixion on the cross,
children's ministers face a unique challenge when it comes to
knowing how to teach kids the tougher parts of the Bible. How do we
prayerfully cover all Bible stories for all ages? It's no simple
task-nor one to be taken lightly.
For some, the idea of quietly censoring the Bible has its
appeal. And it's true: To a degree, simply leaving out the tough
stories of the Bible would be easier. But-and this is a big
"but"-children's ministers and experts all agree that omitting
certain accounts of the Bible is a flawed approach that can result
in children developing a flawed faith.
So what's the best approach to handling the racier events of the
Bible? Read on to find out.
Unpack the Reality of Sin
Experts agree that we must figure out how to present all of the
Bible-even the really uncomfortable parts-to kids so they learn
from it. While the parts full of humanity's sin can feel
treacherous with children, shielding them from these parts may in
fact shield them from the awareness of our sinful nature and our
need for a Savior.
"Most of the 'uncomfortable or censored' content is a
direct result of sin," says Bill Emeott, lead childhood ministry
specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, "and kids need to
understand what sin is and its consequences."
We can't teach the foundations of Christianity to children
without teaching the concept of sin. Presenting the right teachings
at the right time in a child's life can provide the building blocks
necessary to establish initial understanding of who God is and who
we are in relation to him through Jesus. Starting with the third
story in the Bible, kids need to know how Adam and Eve's poor
choice allowed sin to enter the world and separate humankind from
God. It's important to not protect kids from an early and basic
understanding of sin and its gravity. This knowledge is crucial for
kids to understand more about the Bible, themselves, and the world
"At the same time," Emeott notes, "it's important to be
sensitive to a child's maturity and ability to understand the
content. Whenever possible and appropriate, teaching the concepts
and reality of these events is valuable-and foundational."