The "Gospel" for my 3 year old?

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Stope, May 1, 2017.

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  1. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    What do you tell your young children the Gospel is? Or, just, what do you tell them about Jesus, themselves and the world? What do you major on that they can grasp at this age?
  2. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    As for what I currently say, I usually camp out on the following (and please tell me pitfalls or maybe if Im a lil wrong of these):
    ---God as creator of all good things. We therefore should ENJOY them and be GRATEFUL
    ---The good things of creation remain, but there is now "bad"/sin in the world because of selfishness and sin on the world
    ---We want to make "good" choices, because God made everyone and everything and in the same way we would want to be treated rightly, we also treat others nicely. I say that I would be mad/sad if someone treated her wrong/sinned against you, and in the same way God the father is upset/sad when "you" (my daughter) and I hurt others (do you guys think I should I introduce hell??)
    ---I have been highlighting Jesus as King as a good king over all kings of the world
    ---I tell her that as a result of our bad choices, since they make God mad/sad, we deserve punishment (I say "in the same way that your sister gets punished when she hurts you"), but Jesus took that punishment
    ---I formally prayed for our sick friends and family to be "healed", but, to be honest, nobody ever got healed so I didn't want her to think that God didnt listen to her
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Looking at your list, a few thoughts...
    -- Creation is a good truth to teach to preschoolers even if it isn't really the gospel in the proper sense.
    -- Punishment, and the fact that we can be spared from it, is very understandable to a 3-year-old. So that's a good one to keep talking about.
    -- Jesus as "King" might create misunderstandings. Explain it carefully.
    -- God does heal the sick, even if it doesn't happen in our preferred timing or seems to take place "naturally." So don't shy away from that prayer. It's a prayer your 3-year-old can easily relate to. And one of the very best things you can do with her is to practice faith together by praying together.

    I don't think we necessarily need a list. There's much value in just talking about God and salvation as topics come up in the course of life, "as you walk along the road," etc. But that said, I do have my own list of a few gospel wonders most preschoolers can understand. Sorry if the wording is a bit long; I'm just pasting something I wrote a few years ago:

    Sin, punishment, and forgiveness. Most kids have a lot of experience with right and wrong, punishment and forgiveness. They know they should obey, and what might happen if they don’t. So I sometimes talk to them about Jesus like this:

    “God makes good rules. But sometimes we disobey God. When we disobey God, we deserve for him to punish us. Punishment from God is very bad because his rules are so important. But Jesus loves us so much that he decided to get punished instead of us—even though he obeyed God’s rules. That means we don’t get punished by God even though we deserve it.”

    Fatherly love. How perfect it is that a chief benefit of belonging to Jesus—our status as children of God—is innately understandable to little kids! Even the youngest child knows that his life depends on a loving parent. It’s where he gets care, attention, discipline and affection. We might talk to them about it like this:

    “A good father gives you so many things! He takes care of you. He listens to you. He lets you live with him. He shows you how to behave. He loves you. God is the best Father of all. If you belong to Jesus, God makes you his child. Then he takes care of you perfectly. He listens to you anytime to want to pray. His plan is for you to be with him forever. He helps you behave. And he loves you so much—because he’s your Father.”

    The call to faith. One element of the gospel is that it compels a response. Little kids know all about coming when they’re called. They're also prone to trust, so much so that Jesus used a child as an example of what faith in God should be like. I might talk about the gospel call this way:

    “You heard that the Bible says Jesus took your punishment. Believe it. You need to trust him to do that for you. You also heard that God is your good Father. Believe that too. You need to decide to obey him because he’s your good Father.”

    Prayer. Praying with kids may not involve direct telling about Jesus, but it’s still excellent gospel teaching. When we’re quick to pray we teach kids to trust God always. Anytime we stop to pray we’re living out our faith in Jesus. So modeling how to “pray without ceasing,” about absolutely everything, gives kids concrete practice in believing the gospel.​
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