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Give Kids a Thinking Faith

“I needed to teach my kids to think, to think logically, to come to their conclusions. Because if there is always Dad’s answer, then they couldn’t develop convictions….We need to put our children on a quest for truth.” Noted Christian apologist Josh McDowell is quoted in the Jan/Feb 2015 Children’s Ministry Magazine.

Some in Christian education circles question when kids can start to think critically. Thanks to Piaget, people wonder if younger kids can grasp faith concepts because they can’t think abstractly. We published Teaching Abstract Concepts to Kids, debunking this concern because we can always build bridges from the concrete to the abstract. A perfect example is teaching young kids about scarcity of resources in the world. In one class, a teacher built bridges of understanding by having young children play musical chairs. After the game, children discussed how they felt when chairs kept disappearing. Then the teacher asked, “Are there ever times on the playground when there aren’t enough swings to play on?” Yes, the children nodded. “That’s called scarcity,” explained the teacher. And she went on to build a bridge of understanding to explain scarcity of resources in the world.

Try these two ideas to get the kids you minister to think critically about faith.

1. Ask Higher-Level Questions. The types of questions you ask kids can affect whether children apply biblical truths to their lives or not. Our goal as Christian educators is to ask questions that’ll require higher level or critical thinking skills in our students. We want our students to go beyond the obvious “fill-in-the-blank” answers. We want our students to think-to really think. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to go from lower-level to higher-level questions.

2. Ask Great Questions.  Ali Thompson, managing editor of Group’s Sunday school curriculum for kids, wrote a great article called Good Question! In it, she writes, “Questions can help kids own their faith…or they can waste valuable lesson time. In the precious minutes you have with kids each week, are you asking questions that prompt them to think more deeply about their faith? Use questions that lead to thoughtful faith.”

Patty Smith, children’s ministry veteran and expert on critical thinking, explains why higher-order thinking creates transformation in our  children’s faith. Patty is a dynamic sought-out presenter at Group’s KidMin Conference.

For more great ways to minister to today’s kids, subscribe to Children’s Ministry Magazine today.

3 thoughts on “Give Kids a Thinking Faith

  1. Avatar

    This is so true. Children generally have a much greater capacity for thinking things through than adults generally give them credit for. The only thing is, as was mentioned here, they don’t always come up with the answers we expect. 🙂 I believe it is important for us to try to understand their reasoning (and the true intent behind their words).

    Sometimes there is something new we can learn; sometimes we need to help them reason a bit further, ask if they think this other fact may be relevant, etc.

    I also appreciated the point Patty made in the video about waiting for an answer. We all need time to think. I can’t tell you how often I have worked with children who have been (probably inadvertently) taught not to answer when asked a question. They have been conditioned, as Patty also alluded to, to just wait a few more seconds and have the answer decided for them.

    Great article — thanks!

  2. Avatar
    Christine Yount Jones

    Thanks so much for your thoughts! It’s amazing, even as adults, how we’re conditioned to not answer questions. Sometimes we’re afraid of speaking up.

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Give Kids a Thinking Faith

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