Happy Tuesday everyone!
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know that last week I introduced #theologytuesday. You can go ahead and read the whole post here, but here’s the basics:
– Theology – an accurate understanding of God – is important for all of us.
– One of the earliest & most foundational theological statements is the Apostles’ Creed. Its earliest versions date back to the second century, and is now used in churches all over the Western world.
– The goal of #theologytuesday is to break down the Apostles’ Creed into sections, and empower you – parents or children’s ministry leaders – to teach these powerful theological truths to the kids in your care.
To get things started, I’ve created this graphic that breaks down the Apostles’ Creed into 7 major sections. Each section has a phrase from the Creed, and then a big idea or two behind that phrase.
Here’s the graphic:
If you’re like me, looking at this graphic is a little overwhelming.
You may be asking these questions, which I have asked myself several times since deciding to run this series:
“What am I getting myself into?”
“Who do I think I am to dig into something as deep as the Apostles’ Creed?”
“I don’t even know the answers to some of these questions!”
“You expect me to teach words like ‘holy’, ‘catholic’ and ‘remission of sins’ to kids?”
As I’ve been preparing these posts, I’ve been reminding myself, and now I want to remind you –
Theology matters for kids.
Kids are smart enough to learn it, and that means I (and you!) need to put my brain to good use and figure out how to teach it.
So as we journey together, remember – we can do this.
We can dig a little deeper, study a little harder, stretch ourselves a little further, and teach this generation of highly intelligent and inquisitive kids the truth of the Gospel.
So first things first – introduce the concept of the Apostles’ Creed to your kids!
Last week, I shared some videos and articles that are a great starting point to share the Creed with your kids. Here are some suggestions for introducing:
- Play a video of the Creed, or a worship song that contains the words, and explain to the kids you’ll be journeying with that you’re going to be learning the Apostles’ Creed together. Make sure they know this isn’t something you made up – it’s something that has existed for thousands of years, and is recited, taught and proclaimed in churches all around the world.
- If your kids are readers, allow them to look over the Creed, highlight words they don’t know, and even compile a list of questions.
- Let your littles draw some pictures of what they think the words might mean as you read it to them!
- Print off a copy of the Apostles’ Creed, and allow kids of all ages to decorate the poster with symbols, words and doodles.
This doesn’t need to happen all at once – it can be a song one day, a video the next, and the actual reading of the Creed a week later. It may take a couple (or a lot!) of sittings to get through the Creed with your littlest kids. Maybe making the poster will be happen in five-minute chunks during quiet time or if you’re in ministry, while you’re waiting for parents to pick up the kids. Maybe, you start reading lines of the Creed in your bedtime routine.
The point isn’t to drill the whole thing into your kids all at once, but to use this as a tool to teach them important truths, with the goal of integrating theology into your daily lives and routines, and ultimately, the hearts of your kids.
Once you’ve introduced the Creed as a whole, you can dig into the first big section. Here it is:
“I believe in God the Father Almighty; the Creator of Heaven & Earth.”
There are two big ideas in this section of the Creed I want to focus on.
The first one is this:
“What’s the Trinity?”
There’s no easing into it with the Creed – we’re diving in deep right away!
While the Trinity is never explicitly mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed (or Scripture, for that matter), its presence is clearly implied right from the opening lines of the Creed. The way this ancient proclamation of faith progresses from “God the Father” to “Jesus” to “the Holy Spirit” clearly tells us that our God is three-in-one.
This isn’t an easy topic to tackle with adults, let alone kids. The Trinity is a challenge for me to wrap my head around – how on earth are we supposed to explain it to the littles in our lives?
Instead of trying to come up with my own eloquent and creative explanations of the Trinity, I’ve put together a list of great resources I’ve found on this topic. Look through these, find a couple that work for the kids you’re teaching, and dive in together:
- “What is The Trinity?” | What’s in the Bible
- “The Trinity Song” (full disclosure: this song is kind of annoying, but gets the point across to younger kids)
- “Teaching the Trinity Object Lesson” | Christianity Cove (I LOVE this one)
- 4 Cool Facts About The Trinity Worksheet | That Resource Site (Elementary)
- The Trinity Coloring Sheet | What’s in the Bible
- The Trinity Shield (Another personal favourite, introduced to me by my hubby!)
- 3 in 1: A Picture of God | Joanne Marxhausen (I’ve linked to a review of the book!)(DISCLAIMER: If you study theology at all, you’ll know there is much debate about analogies and illustrations regarding the Trinity and if they’re correct or not. The reality is, all analogies that attempt to explain something as mysterious as the Trinity will fall short. I’ve tried to find resources that are as accurate as possible, but like all human resources, their explanations may be imperfect. Use your own discernment & wisdom as you choose these resources!)
Allow these resources to be conversation-starters. I’m a firm believer (maybe it’s the Pentecostal in me!) that theology is best taught and experienced. Playing a video, digging into the Word and history, or doing a worksheet is important – but it can’t be the “be-all-end-all.”
Your kids also need to be able to ask questions, discuss with you, and wrestle with these concepts. When you are a safe place for your children to pose the hard questions, wrestle with these difficult theological ideas and process at their own pace.
Allow this to take as long as it needs to with your individual kids.
Once you’ve established the fact with your littles that God is in fact, three-in-one, you can focus on the next big idea in this small section –
“Who is God (the Father)?”
I know, this stuff is so simple right? (Sarcasm absolutely intended)
Thankfully, the Creed itself answers this question. This section reads, I believe in God the Father Almighty, the Creator of Heaven & Earth.
While not an all-inclusive list of the characteristics of God, if you can get these two big ones into the minds and hearts of your kids, you’re off to a great start.
This section is a little more concrete than the one on the Trinity, most kids (even small ones) have a concept of what a Father and a Creator is. So, start talking to them about it!
Ask them questions about what makes a good Father.
Ask them how God is like a father.
Sometimes, the thought processes and theology already present in the hearts of kids is amazing. Give them a chance to tell you what they already know and believe.
Start talking about God as Creator.
Ask them questions about things they have created, and what a Creator does.
Read through the story of Creation with them.
Create things – pictures, clay creations, finger painting masterpieces, paper mache, block towers – and connect those creations to God as our Creator.
Grasp teachable moments whenever they come along.
As your child sits with their father, remind them that God is also a Father – and the best one there could be at that.
As they colour, remind them that God creates too – out of nothing, and all that we see!
The point of teaching theology like this is not to create an extra workload – but to work the deep truths about God into your everyday life. These concepts of God as Father and as Creator are great opportunities to do just that.
For those of you who like a little more structure (and a load of resources, like myself), here are my suggestions on God as Father and Creator:
- “In the Beginning” | Bible App for Kids (I LOVE this! Cannot say enough good things about these free resources for preschoolers and young elementary)
- “Creation Song” | SaddleBack Kids
- “Good Good Father” | Chris Tomlin & Pat Barrett (Play the song for your kids, but if you can, get your hands on the book! Levi & I love reading this one!)
- Good Good Father – Come to the Castle Curriculum (Kids’ ministry leaders, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve used this. I’ve previewed it and am intrigued!)
- “God the Father Worksheet” | Ministry to Children
- “Play Through the Bible: Creation” | Steadfast Family (Great for the littlest kids)
- “Stars & Whales Singing” | Louie Giglio (This is definitely for older kids, but I think your science-minded elementary age kids & preteens would love)
I’d love to hear from you on how it goes, resources you’re using (or have used) to teach your kids, and what you’re learning in the process.
You can do this!
We can do this!