Earlier this year I read Eric Mataxis’ book on Bonhoeffer. One of the quotes from that book that always stands out to me is when he says
“he (Bohoeffer)often said that if one couldn’t communicate the most profound ideas about God and the Bible to child something was amiss.”
I think there is a huge problem in the kids ministry world where we don’t teach kids certain things because we feel they need the basics. I agree. But I also disagree because we feel that simplicity of a message is more important that clarity. Kids have a far greater ability to understand the problem most often lies with us not understanding profound ideas about God and bible enough. I know for many years I would ovoid such things in my messages to kids thinking they were incapable of understanding hard truths. What I’ve found is that the problem many times is my understanding of Scripture. The more I learn the more the Holy Spirit reveals the better equipped I am to tackle the hard things.
1. Pray for God’s wisdom. – This may or may not be surprising to you but it is by far the most important thing you can do. I know far to many times I have allowed myself to slip into the question of what object or story can illustrate truth and not connect with he who is truth personified. What is surprising is how often we forget or simply don’t pray.
2. Study the passage using commentaries and other study tools. – This may sound like overkill but I have found it extremely helpful. As people who teach the scriptures to kids for the first time for many of our kids we have a responsibility to paint an accurate picture of who Jesus is. The better we understand the context of the verse of scripture and how they relate to the broader narrative in scripture the better equipped we will be to communicate complexity in such a way that kids understand.
3. Tell on yourself. – In preparing for the message make it personal. Don’t just do what the curriculum tells you. Make the application come to life. Resist the urge to make yourself the hero. Once you know what you are going to say try to think ways in which you tell stories of how you messed up. Our job as pastors, parents and leaders is not to be perfect but to point those who we have influence over to a perfect savior. There are few things that are more effective at keeping and retaining the attention of your kids like a story of your personal failure. Tell kids how you failed so they have hope in a God who never fails.