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One Good Idea for Teaching Children

“So what have you got for us today?” a little five-year old regularly asks me at our preschool chapel. She’s from a Hindu family, but she is so excited to learn about Jesus and can’t wait to tell you about him. So what do I have for her today?

In any Bible lesson, there is so much content that we could bring a tsunami of Bible truths. And sometimes we can’t help ourselves in sharing what we know. Law, gospel, justification, sanctification, sacraments, attributes of God, God’s plan in history, background details of the Bible account, living our faith, things to pray for—there’s so much we can serve up on a platter that will feed little ones’ faiths. We could stuff them full!

Aim-Focus-BullseyeWhen I was a young pastor, a fellow pastor reminded me that when preaching a pastor should shoot with a rifle not a shotgun. Keep it tightly focused, and don’t try to pepper people with every teaching you can find in the lesson. When teaching young children, zero in on the one key truth in the lesson that you want to impact their hearts.

Teaching the Bible to little children helps you appreciate focus. The attention span is short, the distractions come easily, and for them to remember one truth from the Bible is a good goal to aim for in a chapel or children’s sermon.

A number of websites give sample children’s messages. But when looking for ideas, most sites give nothing of law and gospel, instead only telling the children how to live a good life (with Jesus noticeably absent). We Lutherans know that the Holy Spirit works through law-gospel preaching and teaching, and it’s the gospel that motivates Christian living.

Teaching a solid Lutheran children’s message in three to four minutes really takes work. But using the unique color of the text and its pictures to show sin, proclaim gospel, and guide young believers’ lives, we can deliver a focused, rifle-shot message of one truth. So when they ask you, “What have you got for us today?” you can tell them, “Here’s one thing I can share with you.”

Dan Schroeder

Next time: One Good Idea for Teaching Teens