By Kayla Stevens
“I miss *Hudson. How do you know that he is having fun with God in heaven?”
We had just finished the Bible story on Mary and Joseph and were sharing things we wanted to talk to God about, when one of the five-year-olds in our class whispered this question with brave vulnerability. Curiosity and sadness filled his eyes for the friend he lost, and his young heart wrestled with death, eternity, grief, and the God who holds it all together.
As I sat on the floor with my preschoolers, I was reminded of the hope we cling to amid grief. Ten pairs of young eyes looked to me, their trusted Bible teacher, for an answer to the pain in their hearts. This wasn’t a moment where I could look down at my Sunday school lesson for the answer. There wasn’t a teacher tip in the margin on how to talk about grief with children or an italicized Bible review question that would give me the “right” answer. In this moment, I could not lean on the lesson in front of me.
I also could not lean on my kids minister.
Theology matters, and not just with our kids. There are moments in ministry like this one where the kids in our ministries are wrestling with difficult circumstances, and you (KidMin leader) will not be in the room. You may be at check-in, or preparing snacks, or walking a toddler up and down the hallway to soothe her separation anxiety.
How do you know that your leaders ready? What conversations have you had to help your leaders think through some big areas of their faith and why they believe what they believe? In other words, how confident are you that the leaders who are teaching the Bible to kids are prepared to teach kids beyond the Bible lesson?Trustworthy content and curriculum is exponentially valuable for teaching kids theology. – Kayla Stevens Click To Tweet
Trustworthy content and curriculum is exponentially valuable for teaching kids theology. It is important to find content you can trust to be theologically accurate, age-appropriate, and engaging for the kids in your ministry. Curriculum is designed to equip leaders to teach Bible truths, one at a time, in a systematic and precise way. Utilizing trustworthy curriculum will help equip your leaders to teach kids theology.
So then, why look any further than the lesson in front of you? Because our lives are not lived in compartmentalized boxes, and neither is our faith. What we believe about who God is, why Jesus came, or what salvation means bleeds into our everyday lives. These truths permeate our entire value system. They influence not only how we live, but why.
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is working in the lives and hearts of kids in ways we do not always see or anticipate. He is not confined to our schedules or plans. As leaders, it is important to consider how we are training our leaders to think through what they believe and why. The goal of kids ministry is heart transformation—both the hearts of kids and the hearts of the adults who lead them. If we are not growing in our faith and know how to answer the basic questions about what we believe and why, is it fair to ask our kids to trust our teaching? We must be mindful to make sure we are not merely communicating information from curriculum but inviting kids into a lasting faith that can stand firm even among grief, sorrow, pain, and uncertainty.
How then, do we prepare leaders beyond the curriculum in front of us?
Consider walking through your church’s statement of beliefs together. No one will agree on everything, but there are some main doctrines that we to be on the same page about as covenant members of a church. In your weekly huddles before Sunday school begins, gather leaders and read a paragraph about what your church believes and why it matters.
Through your regular communication with leaders—email, text, or church communication channels—share the curriculum’s main point for the week and connect it to a core tenant of the faith. Ask a “big question” about theology or culture for leaders to think through in connection to the curriculum. Challenge them to articulate how they would address this with the kids in their classrooms.
In larger training spaces for leaders throughout the year, include conversations about what we believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the Bible, creation, the church, and our world. Then, give opportunity for discussion or practice for leaders in smaller groups to articulate what they believe in their own words.When we connect weekly trustworthy content with the larger foundations of Christian theology, we prepare leaders to deliver biblical truth each week with confidence. – Kayla Stevens Click To Tweet
When we connect weekly trustworthy content with the larger foundations of Christian theology, we prepare leaders to deliver biblical truth each week with confidence. Helping leaders know what they believe, why it matters, and making space for the Holy Spirit to work equips them to reach beyond the lesson in front of them to the heart of the child before them.
Kayla Stevens is a Content Editor for Lifeway Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has contributed to several books and Bible studies including What about Kids Ministry? Practical Answers to Questions about Kids Ministry (2018), What is a Christian? Answers for Kids (2018), and Behold Your King (2020). She has been serving in Kids Ministry for over 14 years and has a deep passion for empowering children to own their faith and grow deeper in the joy of Jesus.