“How do you teach theology to a young child?” I was recently asked this question! Today is part three of my “Theology for Kids” series.
First, I apologize I missed last week. Sometimes being a wife and mom takes priority over writing. Okay, it always takes priority, but sometimes it takes even more time than I anticipate 😉
I ended part two by addressing the fact that when you begin to talk to your child about God, your child is going to start asking questions. Our child is incredibly inquisitive. A woman in our new church says she knew she loved our son immediately when he asked her about a hundred questions during one lesson on Creation!
When you begin to integrate God into your daily conversations, your children’s curiosity is going to increase. Unless you or your husband has been fortunate to study theology a lot, this will be intimidating. I want to offer some simple resources today to aid you in answering your kids’ questions about God, theology, and maybe things in between.
I Don’t Know
I am a huge fan of saying, “I don’t know,” when I don’t know the answer to something. It is one of my parenting goals to never lie to our son. Children need to trust their parents, because when we tell them something like “drugs are bad,” they need to know we are being honest. If we have lied about small things, why wouldn’t we lie about big things?
The first thing I would say is to never be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
Then you need to follow that up immediately with “Let me look into it and I will have an answer for you within a reasonable amount of time” (whatever that might be for your child). If your child is old enough, look up the answer together. Is your child is three? Take a few moments if you can, right then, and find the answer. Particularly complicated questions might take a bit of time, but reassure your kid that you are working on it.
As a parent, you should get yourself an excellent study Bible. Both the New American Standard and the ESV are very well-trusted translations. This article from Radically Christian explains a lot about the types of translations, in case you need help choosing one.
Some examples of study Bibles:
The Reformation Study Bible contains maps, charts, confessions, creeds, theological notes, articles about theology, and extensive introductions to each book.
The Life Application Study Bible focuses more on just that: applying Scripture to your life. While it also contains extensive notes, maps, charts, and book intros, there are not as many theological notes, and no confessions or creeds.
The Archaeological Study Bible focuses on archaeological finds. Colored plates, maps, pictures, charts, diagrams, and a lot of information about how people lived during Bible times might appeal to people questioning whether the Bible is true.
My only note here would be this: avoid study Bible’s with one person’s name on it, or study Bibles that are tied into a movie or a book. The better study Bibles are going to have more information throughout it, and not necessarily focus on one specific person’s ideas.
Looking something up online is one of the fastest ways to research things these days. If you have a smart phone, download the Blue Letter Bible app, and you will have a plethora of answers at your fingertips. You will have original languages, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, lexicons, thesauruses, maps, charts, and more. Their website offers even more options, and is a little more user friendly.
GotQuestions.org is a wonderful online resource. You and your kiddo are probably not asking original questions, and this database has over 400,000 questions and answers. Search by topic or question, and find solid answers on whatever it is you are searching.
Olive Tree offers some free resources. If you are thinking you might want to study the Bible more deeply, eventually, you can start with Olive Tree for free. There are free options, and then everything else is a la carte. You can purchase a little here and a little there, according to your needs. I have never used Olive Tree, but I have heard excellent things about it.
Apologetics Books & Authors
Apologetics is the ability to give a defense of your faith (not an apology for it!). When your kiddo asks you a question about God, you are practicing apologetics! I have a few simple book recommendations for you in that area.
All of the following have active pages on Facebook, and most of them have active Twitter accounts. If you really enjoy social media, follow these people. You’ll have their most up-to-date information. But browse through their websites as well; their archives will keep you busy for a long time!
Summit Ministries is one of my favorite places to go to for information, especially if it’s dealing with worldview. Summit actually offers apologetics training for teens and adults. Their summer onsite programs are outstanding (I attended the one week intensive training for adults a few years ago on Worldview, and it was incredible!).
J. Warner Wallace is a cold case detective who does apologetics for children and adults. He uses his detective skills and training to offer up proofs for Christianity.
Peter Heck is a high school history teacher in Indiana, but his (almost) daily podcast looks at current events through a biblical lens. His book Believe: A Confrontation with Christianity’s Biggest Challenges addresses ten of the biggest questions people ask about faith. The book is only 136 pages (and it even has big print), so even a busy parent could read it quickly.
One of the most classic resources you could own is Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. This book covers a lot about the historicity of Scripture, the Truth of Scripture, and how to defend almost everything you’ll read about in Scripture. I know a friend just picked it up at a used bookstore!
There you have it, friends! I hope you find these resources helpful as you begin to talk about God, daily, with your kiddos. I love when our son asks us questions about God (although, not necessarily at bedtime 😉 ). Get a good Bible, do your research, and above all…PRAY. God is always near, and He will guide you if you ask for His help. Next week, Lord willing, I will be back, with resources for your kids!
***this article is cross-posted today at Satisfaction Through Christ***