Who Is God?

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The questions kids ask about God-and how to
respond.

“God can change himself into a baby,” 4-year-old Nicholas mused.
To many children, God is a magical being that may even come close
to being as strong as Superman. Kids’ views of God range from the
super being to the old man with a long white beard.

So when adults talk to a child about God, the child may have a
very different “God” in mind than the adult does. Many ideas about
God are influenced and even distorted by the child’s developmental
level. Kids’ questions at each age level give us insight into who
they perceive God to be. Use this chart to help you respond to
kids’ questions about God on their level.

AGE 2 to 3 years

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KIDS’ QUESTIONS Does God love me? Is God like
(Daddy)?

WHAT THEIR QUESTIONS TELL US ABOUT THEIR
FAITH

Two- and 3-year-old children rarely ask about God. They listen
to what adults say about God, and they generally accept our
statements without question. They openly trust us and imitate our
actions and attitudes. When we talk to God, they want to talk to
God. When we say “God made all things” or “God is love,” they
receive our words and connect our attitude to the ideas they’re
developing. God becomes important to the child when the child is
aware of God’s work in the child’s life and the people in the
child’s life.

HOW TO RESPOND

State truths about God in simple specific remarks. Talk about
God’s love for the child: “God is love.” “God loves you.” If a
child’s statement or question shows a misunderstanding about God,
give a one- or two-sentence correcting statement. Talk about God in
relationship to the child’s immediate experiences and activities.
And remember, our attitude when we talk about God has far more
impact on the child than the specific words we use.

AGE 4 to 5 years

KIDS’ QUESTIONS

Where is God? Who made God? Why can’t I see God? How did God
make (elephants)? Can God hear/see me?

WHAT THEIR QUESTIONS TELL US ABOUT THEIR
FAITH

These are the philosophers of the human race. They ask the big
questions that have puzzled people from the beginning of time. And
they ask one question after another, often following our best
answers with an innocent, but frustrating “Why?” To make things
even more challenging, they expect simple, clear answers to their
short, but deeply profound questions. They think about God in very
literal, physical terms, and it frustrates them to receive
abstract, “spiritual” answers.

HOW TO RESPOND

Give the shortest, correct answer possible. Then ask if the
answer was helpful or if they want to know more. Avoid the
temptation to explain all the facets of the issue the child has
raised. When it’s simply not possible to give a simple answer,
point out that God is so great there is much about him that no one
really understands. Then state one or two essential truths about
God that we do know for sure.

AGE 6 to 8 years

KIDS’ QUESTIONS

Does God love (strangers)? Why did God make (cockroaches)? How
can Jesus be God? Did God write the Bible?

WHAT THEIR QUESTIONS TELL US ABOUT THEIR
FAITH

Some children never ask questions and others seem to never stop
asking. Usually a child’s question grows out of an immediate
experience, thus a list of questions a child might ask could be
endless. Typically, the child’s interest in God still focuses on
his or her own experiences, but there is growing intrigue with
people, places, and issues beyond the familiar environment. Their
curiosity is aroused when something out of the ordinary occurs.

HOW TO RESPOND

Keep your explanations simple and personal. It’s generally best
to allow the child’s questions and comments to open up new vistas.
Until the child has shown an interest in something new, adult
efforts to expand the child’s horizons meet with only limited
success. Invite the child to comment on your answer to a question,
and be sure to listen attentively to the child’s ideas. Be prepared
for a degree of skepticism if an answer pushes the child too far
away from familiar territory.

AGE 9 to 12 years

KIDS’ QUESTIONS

Is God (American)? Why does God make (earthquakes)? Why do bad
things happen? Does God still love me when I disobey?

WHAT THEIR QUESTIONS TELL US ABOUT THEIR
FAITH

The older child still asks many of the same questions as in
earlier years, indicating that a re-evaluation is in process. This
child expects more extensive answers than are needed by a younger
child-answers which are both logical and supported by a recognized
authority such as Scripture. Simplistic cliches may be outwardly
accepted by a child, but a child will have inner doubts if
pressured to accept ideas about God that don’t seem to make sense.
While the child is interested in probing the “unknown” about God,
he or she still has a deep need for assurance about God’s direct
involvement in the child’s life.

HOW TO RESPOND

Always answer honestly, even if the answer is “I don’t know.” It
never hurts for adults to admit there are things about God we don’t
understand. It does hurt if, as adults, we pretend to know more
than we do or pass off our opinions as truth. To encourage a child
to continue learning about God, ask follow-up questions such as,
“What else would you like to know about God?” or “Why do you think
that’s an important thing to know about God?” Openly share your own
learning experiences, including doubts and questions you’ve
confronted. The child doesn’t need pat answers. The child does need
someone who lovingly and thoughtfully helps explore the great
truths about God and the many ways God touches our lives.

Wes Haystead is co-author of Adventures for Growing Families
(Victor Books).


TEACHER TRAINING MEETING

Kids aren’t the only ones who have questions about God. That’s
why kids’ questions can stump teachers. Use this teacher-training
meeting to help teachers feel more comfortable with the
unknown.

1. Questions, Questions-As teachers arrive, have them each write
questions they have about God on 3X5 cards. Have teachers give the
cards to you.

Then tell teachers to sit down. Tell them you’ll read each
question aloud and if they’ve ever wondered the same thing about
God to stand and then sit down again. Read the questions. Skip
questions that are repeats of previous questions.

Afterward, ask: How did you feel to discover other people have
questions about God? What do these questions reveal about our
faith? What do you think God thinks about our questions?

Read aloud Deuteronomy 29:29.

Say: We all have questions about God and that’s okay. God is so
big that we can’t grasp everything about him. Part of the fun of
being a Christian is the discovery process of getting to know
God.

2. Fielding Questions-Use the age breakdowns in this article to
form groups of teachers according to the ages they teach. Give each
group a photocopy of this article. Have groups read the questions
kids in their age group ask. Have teachers tell how they’d answer
those questions. Then have them read and discuss the “What Their
Questions Tell Us About Their Faith” and the “How to Respond”
sections in their age group.

3. More Questions-Have groups each make a newsprint list of
questions about God that kids in their classes have asked. Tape
these lists to the wall. Have teachers tell which questions would
be best to answer with an “I don’t know” and which questions would
require more research before they could be answered.

4. Marked-Give each teacher a question mark, either cut out from
poster board or drawn on a piece of poster board. *Say: Kids’
questions tell us they’re really thinking about God and their
faith. Don’t be afraid of questions. Remember, it’s okay to say, “I
don’t know.” Let kids see that you, too, have questions about God
and you’re seeking to know God better.

Encourage teachers to each put their question mark in their
classroom to remind them to welcome and encourage kids’ questions
about God. Then close in prayer.

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