Heart transformation in kids happens when we center our teaching around the gospel. To some, this means teach a Bible story and then tell the plan of salvation. I call this attachment teaching—almost using the gospel like a piece of Velcro® that we tack on at the end of a lesson. I can’t tell you that there is anything terribly wrong, per se, with this style of teaching.
But we should ask ourselves, is there a better way?
When we tell the story of Noah’s ark to children and then tack on the plan of salvation at the end, have we missed how the gospel represents itself in the actual story? I have been one to use the Velcro strategy before. It’s tempting because we want to share the gospel as often as we can in Kids Ministry. But, place yourself on a carpet square in the story circle for a minute and listen through the ears of a 2nd grader. Noah, God, and Jesus died for your sins. Could this be confusing? There is a better way.
Now don’t hear me say, “we can’t mix the Old and New Testaments,” because that is not true at all. Some seasoned teachers say it will confuse a child if we talk about both in the same lesson. This represents a completely different style of teaching—one that would not talk about Jesus in the same session as Noah and God. So, the gospel is saved for New Testament stories to avoid confusion. I call this the separatist method.
Gospel-centered teaching is neither of the above. It’s not the Velcro method and it’s not the separatist method. So, how do we connect Noah to Jesus without slapping on the Velcro gospel? We show how the story of the flood shows us how God is serious about sin and will not leave it unpunished. But the story of Noah shows us how loving God is because He provided a rescue plan for one righteous man and his family. The story points ahead to a greater rescue! Jesus, the only perfect person, came to provide a rescue plan for us by taking the punishment for sin. When we trust Him, we are saved from the punishment our sin deserves.
Do you see the difference? The Old Testament story is told by pointing to the need for a rescuer through Jesus. Put the gospel at the center of your teaching and leave the Velcro behind!
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Kids Ministry that Nourishes and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children reside in Nashville.