The Bible has some pretty tough stuff in it. And, a lot of the content of the Bible is hard to explain to young children. Take the ten commandments. Have you ever considered how to explain adultery to a three or four year old? At times we have to use different types of euphemisms in order to put things in the Bible on a level that they can understand. (Like, the Bible says that husbands and wives need to keep their promises to each other.)
But, sometimes we go a little too far the other way, and we avoid talking with our young children about important things in scripture because we’re afraid to worry or scare them or make them have weird feelings about God. Can I be honest with you? There are some really bad teachings out there right now. I suppose there always are bad teachings, but there is an insidious movement afoot that will try to undermine the Bible and its truths in the minds and hearts of our children. The earlier we lay solid biblical foundations, the better. So, I’ve compiled a list of six important truths we should be sure to teach our preschoolers. I think you’ll find that these are concepts that even very young kids can grasp and contemplate in their own ways.
1. The Bible is God’s special book. Preschoolers can learn from an extremely early age that the Bible is not like other books. We can teach them that the Bible comes from God and teaches us important things about Him. We can open the pages of the Bible and let them touch it, so that they learn young that the Bible is for them, too. It’s not just a heavy book on a shelf somewhere that they don’t have access to. When we talk about the Bible in these terms, we’re reinforcing the fact that the Bible is true and, as God’s word, it’s the authority for our lives.
2. You and I are sinners. Children are sharp. They already know that they do things they shouldn’t, and they’re well aware when they are misbehaving. So, this concept isn’t going to shock them. But, we can put their bad behavior in different terms when we talk about what sin is and why it matters to God. When Sawyer was in the preschool department at church, his teachers taught him to say, Sin is anything we think, say, or do that breaks God’s law. I think this is brilliant because it alludes to God’s holiness and our tendency to say, do, and even think things that are contrary to His holiness.
3. Jesus died on a cross and came back to life. This concept is one that we often debate in our minds. Should we really talk about this? Should we dwell on death in preschool Sunday school? Are we doing wrong when we tell our three year old a story that’s, well, let’s face it, bloody? I believe that the Easter story is appropriate for preschoolers. We don’t have to show them clips of The Passion of the Christ. We don’t even have to talk about the blood, really. At this age we can simply talk about how Jesus is God’s son, how he died for us on a cross, and then God raised Him from the dead. It’s good for them to know the basic facts of what happened, even before they really understand the significance of what Jesus was doing on the cross that day. Yet, if we link the truth that we are all sinners to the fact that Jesus died because of sin, we may find that they understand more than we ever imagined.
4. The Bible is one big story. This is a concept many adults have never even been taught. But, it’s important for our children to understand that, even though we tend to study the Bible in small chunks (stories) on Sunday mornings, all of those smaller stories link together to form one big story of God’s great love, saving us from our sin through Jesus. I recommend reading The Big Picture Story Book Bible with your children. It does a fantastic job of showing how Jesus is all over the Old Testament, too. It helps kids to get the “big picture” of God’s redemption plan.
5. Heaven is for real. Because the Bible says so. And Hell is for real, too. We can talk in basic terms with our preschoolers about how Heaven is the place where we can go to be with God someday. It can be helpful to talk about Heaven in terms of someone you know who has passed away. And, most importantly, we should make sure that the kids know that doing good things doesn’t get you to Heaven. There is only one way to Heaven, and that way is believing in Jesus.
6. God keeps His promises. Even our very youngest charges can understand the idea that God is good and He tells the truth. Many of the Bible stories that are most often taught to preschoolers easily point to this truth, so we should take every opportunity to reinforce the concept in our little ones’ minds. God follows through. When He promised He would send a redeemer, He did it. And, we can trust His other promises, knowing that God is “working all things together for the good of those who love Him.” Now would be a good time to teach them to say, “God is good….all the time.” Just kidding. Kind of.
Preschoolers will be preteens before we can bat an eye. Why waste precious teaching years when we can already begin infusing their spirits with the truth of God’s word? I’ll never forget when Adelade was four and I had taught her John 1:29: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. A few weeks later she learned about the Passover in Sunday school, and I asked her if she had any idea how the Passover lamb should remind us of Jesus. She looked straight at me and repeated John 1:29. My jaw hit the floor.
We just never can tell what kind of incredible connections their little minds are making when we are faithful to teaching them God’s word from the very beginning, especially these six truths. When we teach them well we help them combat the wrong thinking that will come their way. It’s never too early to lead our babies to the truth.