Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Theology is important

There are people who think that kids are too young to understand theological concepts or to understand the sacraments.  But if they are taught in a way that is simple enough for them to understand, they can and they should learn them.  Now, I'm not saying that you have to start a full out theology class in your Children's Department, but including some basic teachings can be great!  Lessons on Baptism, Sanctification, the Altar, Communion, and more have been huge blessings in my department.  Here are few things I've used and found helpful in my own teaching.

Keep is simple
I know lots of pastors and theologians who love to talk about the minutia of theology.  But if we want anyone outside the clergy to be interested in it, we need to keep it simple.  Take one concept and then make it as simple as possible.  Children don't need to understand everything at once, so small bites are best. For example, about a year and a half ago, I did a lesson on what an Altar is and why they are important to us.

        Simple concept to start from: Altars are places where sacrifices happened.  So if it is going to be an altar, something has to die.  
         Relating the lesson: (I GIVE UP)  When we go to an altar, we are going there to give up something.  It might be to ask for forgiveness for a sin or maybe we are giving up something that God has told us is not good for us.  But, we go to the altar to let go of something in our lives.  That something has to "die."  So, though we don't do animal sacrifices on altars anymore, we are still using them as places to let go of those things that hinder us in our lives. The altar is a place where we give up the things that keep us from God.  

Make it interesting
For many people, when they hear that you are going to be studying theology, their eyes start to glass over because they are just convinced that theology MUST be boring.  But theology is simply the study of God and God is NEVER boring, so don't let your teaching be dull.  If you don't find what you are teaching interesting, neither will your kids.  Find an object lesson, use a game, or plan a craft, but do something to make the lesson stand out.

Make the lesson fit their lives.
Anything we teach has to connect with the lives of the children we are teaching.  It doesn't do much good for them to learn about God if they don't see how what they are learning affects their lives.  To go back to the altar lesson I mentioned above, it was important that they see that while the altar was used for sacrifices in the Old Testament, that it was still important today because we are still sacrificing things on them.  They are special, not because of what they are made out of or because of where they are placed, but because they are places where we go to give up the things that keep us from God. 

Check out your Denominational Resources
Some denominations (mine included) have lessons available that can help you teach some theological topics like Communion, Baptism, Salvation, and more.  Check out the tools that are available to you and then make them your own.  Not all lessons fit all kids, but most lessons can be changed to fit any group with a little extra work.  

I love helping kids understand what we believe and why we believe it.  I hope this is helpful for you as well.  
Until next week! 


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