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How to Teach Kids about God: Theology for Little Ones

Theology sounds big and adult-ish, but children are inquisitive and want to understand more about God than we might realize. That’s why teaching kids theology—teaching kids about God—is one of the best and most fulfilling things we can do as Christians.

It’s never too early to start teaching children about God and that he is unlimited in power, authority, and might. They should know that the Bible is the one place they can go to learn about him—and what truth is—especially as they become tweens and teens and are bombarded with worldly ideas and philosophies.

If you are wondering how to teach kids about God when you have many questions yourself, you’ll find some helpful tips below.

But before we explore how to teach kids about God, let’s first consider the why behind it.

Why we should teach theology to kids

The below list is far from exhaustive, but it’s a good start for why we should start teaching theology to children.

1. It’s every Christian parent’s calling by God.

Ephesians 6:4 calls parents to “bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” It’s not something we are to “do if we want”—it’s a command that we should take seriously. (See also Deut 4:4–6.)

Plus, passing on a spiritual heritage of knowing and loving God to kids is clear in Scripture. Notice the four different generations in Psalm 78:4–7:

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. (Emphasis added; see also Ps 145:4)

Big Theology for Little Kids

2. God wants children to know him.

God has been revealing himself to humanity through creation (Rom 1:20) and his word since the beginning of time. It’s the reason he sent his son Jesus to earth—so that everyone, including little children, might know him.

3. It will help them read the Bible better as adults.

Teaching a proper view of theological concepts (from a biblical worldview) will naturally overflow to how kids approach Scripture when they’re out from under your wings.

4. It will guard your child against false doctrines.

Once they are out in the world, they’ll face unbiblical teaching. Teaching kids theology early on will help them notice when something sounds “off,” and as they get older, be able to discern why.

5. Your faith will grow too.

How many of us can say we know everything about God? Yep, none of us. Helping to answer a child’s questions about God will solidify what you believe (and often, it will be an answer to a burning question in your own heart!).

How to teach kids about God: 6 ways

Are you scratching your head thinking, “How in the world do I explain theological concepts like sanctification, atonement, or justification to my five-year-old when I barely understand what they mean myself?” There’s no reason to be discouraged. In fact, teaching theology to kids is easier than you might think.

Here are six places to start.

1. Read gospel-centered devotionals about God together.

Sometimes it’s hard to communicate Bible truths in a way that engages the hearts and minds of children.

Setting a weekly or daily devotional time with your kids is a natural way to open conversations about God—who he is, why he sent his Son Jesus to die for our sin, and what his plan is to make everything right. Here are a few great options.

The Bible Is My Best Friend—Family Devotional: 52 Devotions for Families

Based on key Bible verses, each devotion in The Bible Is My Best Friend—Family Devotional: 52 Devotions for Families builds on the verse at hand and challenges the family to commit them to memory. “Let’s Talk” questions urge the family to discuss what they’ve learned and offer challenges for different ages of children, as well as their parents.

Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family

In Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family, Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson, offer 40 short devotionals to help parents point their children to the transformative grace of God through engaging stories, key memory verses, simple reflection questions, and suggestions for prayer that can be read together.

Kingdom Family Devotional: 52 Weeks of Growing Together

Coauthored by Dr. Tony Evans and his son, Jonathan Evans, this family virtues-based devotional provides parents with a tool to maximize family devotional times. There are 52 two separate topics, one for each week of the year on topics like salvation, spiritual warfare, prayer, forgiveness, and discipleship, as well as the essentials of living as followers of Christ—money, prayer, family, friends, and priorities—will challenge kids (and their parents too).

2. Explore the creeds.

A creed is a confession of faith, an authoritative formation of the beliefs of a religious community. The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed are two of the most well-known of the creeds. We find foundational instruction of the faith in them: God as Creator, Jesus as his Son, and the virgin birth. We acknowledge Jesus’ suffering, death and burial, and ascension, as well as the resurrection of the dead and future judgment of all things evil.

Lexham Press’ first children’s book, The Apostles Creed: For All God’s Children can be a great help to parents and caregivers who might not know where to start teaching the creeds. The Apostles Creed: For All God’s Children can help families visualize, memorize, understand, and confess the Creed together. Take a peek inside!

Fun fact: Ben Myers, author of The Apostles Creed: For All God’s Children, also wrote a short book on the Apostles’ Creed for grownups. 

And don’t miss this: Lexham Press’s second children’s book, The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children is also now available.

3. Memorize Scripture together (through activities and song)

My kids grew up going to a weekly discipleship program called TeamKid. It focused heavily on Bible memory games and the application of biblical truths through fun activities. When they left home as 17-year-olds, I remember being so thankful that I knew they had years of scriptural truth stored up in their hearts—even if they distanced themselves from God for a time.

But we don’t have to depend upon our churches to teach kids theology (in fact, we shouldn’t.) Planning fun activities, crafts, and even movie nights focused on the Bible doesn’t take a ton of work and will end up making time learning the Bible fun and memorable.

Or teach your kids songs focused on biblical truth. When my kids were babies, my husband and I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to them every night at bedtime. It’s the first bit of theology they learned—that God loves them and that the Bible is true. Teaching kids Scripture-based songs is one of the best (and easiest) ways to teach theology to the youngest of kids. (Two fun albums with singable Scripture songs are Rain for Roots or Slugs and Bugs.)

4. Teach theology using catechisms.

You can also help your child memorize fixed questions and answers to the precepts of the faith, called catechism. To catechize simply means “to teach.” It’s a method many denominations support—and it can be quite helpful for little ones. Though it might seem rote, what is stored up in their heart when they are young can be recalled from memory years later. Plus, as they mature in their faith, it gives them a foundation that helps their minds make sense of the new things they learn about God and his Word.

And there are several texts that support this as a biblical pattern of doctrine, like Romans 6:17 where Paul gives thanks that those he was writing to “have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed (see also Acts 2:42; 2 Tim 1:3). These online Presbyterian, Reformed, and Baptist versions can be quite helpful.

In his book Parenting by God’s Promises, Joel Beeke explores the benefits of catechism. He says:

God has given us a wonderful means of grace in catechizing our children. Yes, we need discipline and diligence to do it, but when we persevere, the rewards are sweet. Do not grow weary if you fail to see immediate progress in your children’s spirituality. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Plant the seeds over and over again. Look for fruit, but understand that blossoms do not appear overnight. Our job is to plant the seed; the result belongs to the Lord.

5. Open theological conversations—about everything.

Is your child sad? Talk about how God understands our pain, perhaps how Jesus’ closest friends turned against him. Then turn the conversation to how they can talk to him about their feelings and that he will comfort them. You can help them memorize Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Are they inquisitive about bugs or clouds or flowers? Don’t miss opportunities while you are out and about with your child to talk about how God reveals himself in creation. Genesis 1:1 is an easy verse for little ones to tuck away in their hearts: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Tell them that means God created everything in nature: plants, animals, bugs, planets, and stars. You can then ask follow-up questions to open conversation, like: How did God do that?

Did your child tell a fib—that you forgave? Even that’s an opportunity to teach kids about God and how he forgives us when we sin against him. Colossians 3:13 is a great verse to help your child understand and memorize: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

6. Prepare yourself ahead of time to answer tough questions.

When your kids ask why Abraham had two wives or if babies that die go to heaven, you might be at a loss for how to answer and find yourself redirecting the question: So—do you want pizza for dinner?

What is sin? Why do people die? What is heaven? What is hell? These are tough questions for anyone, but kids are deep thinkers, and you shouldn’t be surprised when difficult questions like these surface. (Or embarrassed that you don’t know how to answer.)

In their book Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson write that as your children get older, “They will have more questions than you will have answers.” They write:

We try to make sense of the Bible, but then we come across stories that are out-and-out strange, or thorny topics that are difficult to understand even as an adult with a well-defined worldview. We try to trust the character of God and what he says about the world around us, but at times it seems to conflict with what we see on the news, in our neighbors’ lives, or even in our own hearts. It’s so easy to wonder if our lack of faith or confidence about certain biblical matters will harm our children.

So what to do?

Spend time learning the answers to some of these questions yourself. There are many resources available to help (including the one mentioned above, Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions). Guaranteed, it will benefit more than just your kids.

Why start teaching theology so young?

Teaching kids theology when they are young will benefit children as they enter their tween and teenage years and follow them into adulthood. (There may be years where you are scratching your head, wondering if it did anything.) I’d encourage you to lean into Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

In her article “8 Things to Remember When Teaching Kids Theology,” Melanie Lacy writes that teaching theology to kids helps form their character and is foundational for later actions:

By understanding God’s purposes for his world, his method, and his mission, the will is orientated to serving God and living for his glory. As well as informing the character development of children, theology also informs how they live in the world. How kids live should directly correlate to what they believe, and so theology becomes foundational for their actions as well.

But the biggest reason to start teaching theology to kids when they are young is because raising children is a battle for your child’s heart. It’s not about filling them with head knowledge but guiding them toward heart change.

Social media, friends, and other outside influences will only increase in intensity as they grow and begin to form their own opinions about the world and the One who created it. Ultimately, our goal as parents should be to embrace every opportunity to engage in conversations that reflect the gospel because as Paul says, it is of utmost importance:

I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Cor 15:3, emphasis added)

Don’t wait . . .

Knowing how to teach kids about God may seem daunting—but actually doing it can be one of the most memorable things you do with your child. Start simple, and invite the Holy Spirit to help you along the way.

Whatever you do, be consistent and creative. And you can’t go wrong by covering everything you are teaching kids with Scripture and lots of prayer. And don’t wait . . . remember, it’s a battle for their hearts.

Fight hard—and stand firm.

***

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Written by
Karen Engle

Karen Engle is a copy editor for Faithlife. She has a master's in biblical studies and theology from Western Seminary and frequently takes groups to Israel.

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Written by Karen Engle