Many parents find the challenge of talking to their children about Jesus to be confusing and scary. We want to help parents overcome this by giving them practical ways of discussing salvation with their kids. In his book Leading Your Child to Jesus, David Staal, gives four “key dynamics” to remember when communicating with children. These dynamics are vital to effectively discussing salvation with your kids.
Dynamic #1: Children understand concrete terms and language better than they understand abstract terms and language. Staal encourages parents to avoid complicated symbolism and “religious” words and phrases. For example, instead of the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart,” which can be confusing when taken literally, the phrase “start a personal relationship with Jesus” is a more concrete idea.
Dynamic #2: Children are at different developmental levels. Remembering that young children may have a difficult time understanding complicated words is key to talking to them about Jesus. What a fifth grader understands will not be the same as what a preschooler understands. Parents should be willing to get creative with how they talk to their kids about Jesus, not just using the hard-to-understand words they have become comfortable with, but using words that their child will be able to understand.
Dynamic #3: Children are most receptive to stories and terms they can relate to or picture. Jesus was a master at this! Instead of lecturing the crowds that listened to his teaching, he used stories that they could understand and identify with. Talking to your children about your own experience can be very effective, as is using stories from the Bible.
Dynamic #4: Children may focus on, or be distracted by, a single detail in a story. When telling stories to illustrate Biblical concepts for kids, it is essential to remember that your children may not be mature enough to handle every detail of the story. While you may want to share how Jesus freed you from your addiction to drugs and alcohol, your child may not be ready to know every aspect of that story. It is so important to prayerfully consider which details to reveal and which to skip over when sharing stories with your children.
We encourage parents to keep these dynamics in mind when talking to their kids about Jesus. (Staal’s book contains much more great advice on how to discuss salvation with children; you can purchase a copy of his book by clicking here.) Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about salvation; God has entrusted you with this task, and He will give you what you need to accomplish it!
“…we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.” Psalm 78:4