Teaching Our Kids to Expect Everything God Has for Them
Steve and Denise Olsen
Steve & Denise Olsen are 2002 graduates of Rhema Bible Training College, where Denise worked full-time for many years in the children’s department of Rhema Bible Church and taught children’s ministry courses at RBTC. Meanwhile Steve maintained his career in software development. Denise has been in children’s ministry for over 3 decades, and Steve joined her in ministry 18 years ago.
Their heart in children’s ministry is for kids to form a close, trusting relationship with their Heavenly Father early, so that they’ll be well-established in their faith as they begin their teen years.
Steve & Denise founded Snow Shack Media to create Spirit-filled, faith-based children’s church curriculum focused on kids’ relationships with God. They’ve partnered with some great teaching and worship video artists and producers and released FAITHkids curriculum for elementary-aged Sunday School classes and children’s church services. They can be reached at email@example.com. Our God is a truly amazing, loving, limitless God! Over the years of our lives, we may have limited our thinking, and limited our faith by inaccurate teaching we grew up on, or by experiences we’ve had. But when we’re teaching our kids about God, or ministering to them in a church setting, we need to remember to present God’s Word in its fulness, without filtering it through our own tainted lenses. It might even be tempting to limit what we teach them to what we’ve experienced in our own life, or what we’ve heard others have experienced.
When kids are young, this is the time to present the fullness of the Word of God — all of His love — all of His power. Don’t limit Him in their eyes!
The Bible clearly presents salvation — that when we confess Jesus as Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, we’re saved according to Romans 10:9. Salvation is a free gift to us; Jesus already paid for it with His own blood. We all know that, we believe it, and we don’t hesitate to teach it to our kids.
But we do hesitate to teach about some other topics. In fact, looking around at kids’ church curriculum, some topics that are central to the substitutionary work that Jesus did for us are flat-out ignored. Here’s a list of some of the frequently untaught or undertaught areas of the Word. As you read through these, think about whether you’ve been representing God accurately when teaching your kids.
The Bible clearly presents healing — that just as Jesus died for our sins, He dealt with sickness and disease (Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:24). So even though we may know a spiritual person who was sick but wasn’t apparently healed, the Word of God still says what it says, and we honor God when we present healing as written in His Word.
When you teach healing to kids, it’s great to start with one of the Bible stories detailing Jesus healing someone. The story of Blind Bartimaeus is one that’s easy for kids to relate to (Mark 10:46-52). This will convey the fact that Jesus is a Healer. But don’t stop there, show that Jesus’s healing wasn’t just for when He was on the earth. Jesus made sure that everyone following Him forever — including us — could be healed, too. Read 1 Peter 2:24 to them and point out that Jesus not only died for our sins, but also for our sicknesses and diseases — that the Bible says that we’re healed! If we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then our sins have been erased — every sin or bad thing that we will ever do. And we’re healed from every sickness and disease that will ever try to take over our bodies. All we have to do is believe that what Jesus said is true.
The world is becoming more uncertain in a lot of ways, and so some have shied away from teaching about God’s protection, thinking that it might be confusing to kids since they hear about danger and violence all the time, and we don’t want them to doubt God. But that’s precisely the reason why we do need to teach them about God’s protection! They need to know that if they dwell in the secret place of the Most High, according to Psalm 91:1, then God’s promise of protection is for them. Even more importantly, Jesus set us free from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13) which included danger and destruction (Deuteronomy 28). So protection is part of Jesus’ substitutionary work for us. We have an article that brings this out further here.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Sometimes children’s ministers shy away from praying for kids to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit because they themselves had difficulty in receiving Him, difficulty in speaking in tongues. But if you’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit, there’s no reason to hold back in presenting the baptism in the Holy Spirit to kids, and praying for them to receive. So many people have been taught that they need to pray to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit but then wait to receive Him. Don’t hesitate in telling the kids that they’ll receive Him right away, and begin speaking with new tongues — their wonderful new prayer language; just as the disciples received the Holy Spirit right away when He came in the upper room during the feast of Pentecost.
Okay, sure, this is a tricky topic for kids — to teach it without it turning into covetousness.
Prosperity is God’s solution to poverty, which was another curse of the law from which Jesus set us free. God doesn’t want us to go hungry or homeless, as many experience all over the world. When we’ve accepted Jesus as Lord, we’re redeemed from poverty just like we’re redeemed from all of the works of the devil. When God solves a problem, He always goes over and above what’s necessary (Ephesians 3:20-21). So rather than solving poverty by promising a roof over our heads and some food, He loves to bless us. Extravagantly.
The way to approach teaching this to kids is that God blesses us because He loves us since we’re His children. And as He blesses us, He expects us to bless others as well. Giving is part of God’s loving nature. After all, He gave His own Son up to die a horrible death in order to remove all separation between Him and His people. But His giving nature is also to give us an example that we can follow in blessing others. Further, we tithe back to God and give offerings because we love God and want to obey His Word and honor Him. We honor Him by giving to others as well — following His example. You might even consider receiving offerings from the kids in your church to benefit kids in need elsewhere to make this concept more concrete.
Hearing from God
Kids’ ministers are good about teaching about prayer, that kids need to spend time talking to their Heavenly Father and that He hears us when we pray to Him. We don’t even hesitate to instruct kids to take time to yield to God. But how do they yield to Him and what should they expect to hear from the Holy Spirit when they yield to Him? After all, kids only know to hear with their physical ears. They just need to know that God is a Spirit, and He communicates with our spirit. That means that deep, down inside, when we quiet ourselves down (yield to Him), we may sense Him speaking to us — to our spirits within us. When we pray in tongues, we receive those words in our Spirit. The Holy Spirit also communicates things that we can understand that same way. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would teach us all spiritual things and help us remember things that we have already been taught (John 14:26); guide us into all truth and tell us about things to come (John 16:13). And most importantly, everything we hear from the Holy Spirit is always in agreement with what’s in the Bible. If it’s not, it’s not from the Holy Spirit.
The bottom line is that God is way too big to be constrained by our experiences and limited beliefs and we simply can’t afford to teach kids to know a disabled God. So as we teach, let’s present Him in His fullness, as He presents Himself in His holy Word. And more than anything else, let’s always make sure put a ton of emphasis on Jesus’ love for them, and that He’ll never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5)!
And who knows? By speaking these things out to kids, and realizing that the Word of God really does say these things, you might just build faith in some new areas in yourself!