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Making Sure Children Actually Hear the Gospel and Not Just a Bunch of Bible Stories

Creating a Service for Kids to Process Their Faith Out Loud

Children have a faith that is ready to go. Let’s not waste that opportunity by delivering a humanistic Gospel.

We talk a lot about contextualization Gospel communication. How do we share the eternal truth of God in specific locations for specific people who have a specific shared experience?

The Gospel does not change. So the message should remain the same, even as the methods are adjusted for effectiveness.

But how well do we proclaim the Gospel to children? I’m not asking how well we teach children Bible stories, or how well we have taught the moral truths of Scripture.

Are we contextualizing our Gospel communication for children as well as we are for the hipsters in Brooklyn or the tribes in Tanzania?

The Bible as a Collection of Good Stories

Too often we teach the Bible as a series of isolated morality tales, like Aesop’s Fables. We want our children to learn how to live well, so we draw from the Bible stories of people who did the right thing and those who did the wrong thing.

We hope they are getting the idea that good is of God, leading to success, and bad is of Satan, leading to failure. If the kiddos can then live out and retell the story with the right names and main points, we feel like they have a grasp on the Gospel.

Churches have told children tons of good stories, but have we told them the Story?

It is easy to tell the stories within the story, but there is a big picture here. We miss some important points when we offer a slice of the Gospel as if it is the whole pie.

I think about it this way.

There’s this huge story with basically four major acts. Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. I teach these at my church. You might as well. But how do you teach this to children?

I’m a father of three daughters. The reality is I just don’t want them to know one part of God’s big story. He’s given us His Word that tells the story of His grand and awesome plan, from the first verse to the last. I want them to know the Truth, not just a truth or two.

The Gospel Is About What God Is Doing

We miss the flow of God if we just take the Bible in isolated parts. And the flow is important to understanding that the Gospel is not just a group of ideas but rather a plan that has been designed and implemented by a loving God for the saving of humans.

Ideas aren’t as personal as a plan. The plan runs the length of Scripture. So for example, we hear Jesus say in 1 Corinthians 11, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me.”

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.