Kids Need Theology Too
When it comes to theology, start ’em young. If you’ve ever wondered how to explain the Trinity to your kids – or anyone, for that matter – you are not alone. But I have to remind myself not to fall into the trap of thinking they’re too young to get started on learning spiritual concepts that may seem challenging. It’s an enormous task, but kids need theology too.
I ran across a cool little series of theology books for children that can help. Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers by Dr. Joey Allen of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary includes four books: The Trinity, The Gospel, The Scripture, and The Mission. Each book presents a pretty big idea in a way that kids can learn something from it on their level.
We Have to Begin Somewhere
You may not know I have a background in education. Years ago, I worked as a teacher and even a principal. In the education system, we know it’s normal to begin teaching the building blocks or foundational skills as soon as students can absorb them. It’s especially true for subjects like math, reading, and language comprehension that build on those earlier skills. We don’t wait until kids can understand algebra before teaching them to add. We don’t wait until they can diagram a sentence before teaching them how to hold their pencils. It just makes sense. We have to begin somewhere.
Children learn in stages. When they are little, they will often just repeat the words and phrases they hear. It isn’t until later in childhood that they begin asking deeper questions. (Well, other than maybe, “Why? Why? Why?” for everything you say!) It suits them well to hear, absorb, and even memorize bits of information that they do not quite comprehend. But those little bits will serve as file folders to hold all the bigger concepts they will eventually learn. As they hit middle school, they’ll start to wonder what those big words they learned mean and what was significant about them. As they enter high school and college years, they begin to wrestle with and learn applications for what they’ve learned.
It’s Never Too Soon to Teach the Truth
Early childhood is the perfect time to begin teaching them truth. It’s never too late, but it’s also never too early to start. I’m often surprised at how much little ones pick up on and retain. We all know it works both ways – they pick up things we don’t necessarily want them to retain too! Why not put this to work for the good of their spiritual growth?
Paul speaks of the spiritual training Timothy received from his mother and grandmother in his youth, and he emphasizes how crucial it is for every aspect of our lives. As a child, he only “got acquainted” with the Scripture. Later in life, it led to his wisdom and salvation.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV
So What Holds Us Back?
Sometimes we feel intimidated to teach our kids big concepts because we don’t know or understand all the answers ourselves. Kids learn layer upon layer, just like we do. Think about all God is teaching you from his Word each year. It is his Living Word, active and breathing. (Hebrews 4:12) We will never reach the bottom of all we can learn from the Bible.
In Jesus’ words, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) If learning the truth of God’s Word is necessary for our lives, it is essential for our kids’ lives too.
I pray we won’t leave the heavy lifting of teaching theology to our children to the church, school, or anyone else. Start ‘em young and watch the roots grow deeper and stronger over the years. We are not just raising kids or even adults; we are raising disciples for Christ. Who knows? This may even be how they come to their own personal faith in Jesus.
Grab a resource like Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers and get started with your kids today.