How to Talk to Kids About SIN

Those of us that minster to kids don’t like to think of kids as sinners. We do what we do because we love kids. We love their hunger and we love their “innocence.”

If we are honest with ourselves however, we will admit that we tend to think of the kids in our class as either good or bad. Some kids obey the rules and some kids constantly challenge the boundaries.

Both groups of kids—the compliant and the rebellious—are lost without Christ.

We reward the kids who demonstrate good behavior and punish the bad ones. However, if we look at the ministry of Jesus, He went out of His way to spend time with the bad kids.

Many kids that grow up in church end up leaving the church because they feel like they can never measure up. When I hear someone say they left church because “they can’t measure up,” it tells me they don’t have an understanding of sin or that they have not experienced the grace of God—or possibly both.

Sometimes young adults will leave church saying, “There are too many hypocrites in the church.”  These people are saying that churches are full of people that don’t measure up, and that is true, as well. The truth is that none of us measure up. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.

Some churches talk too much to kids about sin, but it is usually designed to get kids to change their behavior. Big Mistake! We talk to kids about sin not to get them to change, but to lead them to Christ and let the Holy Spirit change them.

On the other hand many churches don’t talk to kids about sin at all. They will talk about good virtues and obeying their parents, but this can leave the impression that kids can be good without Christ.

It is my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. If I do not have an understanding of my sin and the price that Jesus paid, I will not experience the grace of God. In other words, there is no understanding of grace if there is no preaching about sin.

The whole reason to talk to kids about sin is to lead them to Christ.You want your kids to come to the end of themselves. You want them to have that feeling of “I can’t measure up” so you can tell them the good news: Jesus paid the price for your sins.

Read the first three chapters of Romans.If you stop reading halfway through chapter three, it’s very depressing how messed up the world is and how messed up I am. But beginning with verse 21 in chapter three, it begins to talk about the good news, how Jesus paid the price for our sin.

We need to walk our kids through this same experience, but it’s not as simple as “pray this prayer with me.” Our kids need to truly experience the grace of God for themselves.

When my son Marky was eight years old, I was scolding him for being mean to his sister. He looked at me with tears and said, “It’s too hard, Dad.”

“What’s too hard?” I asked.

“It’s too hard not to sin,” he responded.

I didn’t say it, but I thought to myself, You’re right.

I regret to admit that I didn’t know how to respond to him. I should have used this opportunity to talk to him about the grace of God and to deepen his relationship with Christ, but I was too intent on disciplining him. I can’t do anything about the past, but I can talk to my kids about the grace of God today.

Talk to your kids about sin, but make sure your motives are right.

  •  Don’t do it to get them to behave. That’s the law, and the law doesn’t save.
  •  Don’t do it to punish them.
  • Talk your kids about sin to lead them to Christ.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23.  

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Pastor, filmmaker and coach Mark Harper has 35 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark’s ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families. Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team.