“Why Kids Are Smarter Than You Think”: #CPC19 Breakout Notes

“Why Kids Are Smarter Than You Think”: #CPC19 Breakout Notes

I had a great time at #CPC19 this week in Orlando, Florida. I was blessed to rub shoulders and build connections with some amazing kidmin leaders from across North America (and beyond)! One of the many highlights of this week was able to share my heart and passion in a breakout session. I have had several people reach out for my notes, and so here I am sharing a summary. Even if you didn’t attend CPC, I’d love for you to able to read, digest & dig into these thoughts!

I.  Children’s ministry is often seen as an ‘easy ministry.’

– For many people who have an interest or background in theology, children’s ministry may not appear to be a natural choice. It is often seen as a ministry centered around practice, programs and fun.
– I believe theology should be a central part of what we do in kidmin because what kids learn in their early years is formative to their faith as they grow.

II. Why does theology matter right now?

– The landscape of belief in North America is changing rapidly. A variety of sources have shown us that there are mixed views on God, the Bible and its interpretation, even within the Church.
– According to Pew Research Forum, of 18-29 year olds who read the Bible weekly:
– 37% believe there is an absolute standard of right and wrong.
– 55% of them turn to religion for guidance on what is right and wrong.
– 64% of this group attends church or a religious service weekly.

– While these numbers may not be initially startling, we would expect that MORE young adults who are professing and practising Christians would put confidence in some of these traditionally basic Christian beliefs & practices.
Obviously, there is a disconnect between what is happening in church and home week after week and what we think this generation should know and practice.
– It is important for kids to understand what we believe and why if we want them to grow in faith, stand for what they believe, and have a vibrant relationship with God.
– So, how do we do this? Theology is often seen as overwhleming and “too much” for kids.

I believe that we can and must teach kids theology because they are smarter than you may think.

III. Kids are smarter than you may think!

– There are many exceptional kids around our world. Some examples include of course, the infamous Ryan, Savanna Karmue, Ella Tryon, and Jacob Barnett.
– Even seemingly “ordinary” kids do amazing things like master technology and video games, memorize sports stats, recite TV shows, song lyrics, dance moves and conquer a variety of school subjects.
– Kids are smart enough to understand complex things, and it is our responsibility to teach them and to make them intriguing enough for them to pay attention to.
– We are not talking about gimmicks, but about intentional and age-appropriate ways to teach theology.

IV. The Basics of Theology

-Before we dive into how we teach kids theology, we need to understand what it is we are actually talking about when we use the word ‘theology.’ We need to see it as a way of life, and not just an academic study.
– G.K. Chesterton simply described theology as “the part of religion that requires the use of brains.”
– Ultimately, we are doing theology any time we ask the question:

What is true about God and why does it matter?”

-When we realize we are doing theology more often than we may think, we can start to be more intentional about.
– Ultimately, theology should lead us and the kids we teach into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

V. So, how do we teach?

Start Small!
– Pick particular topics and break them down into digestible pieces for kids and volunteers.
– Brainstorm and ask yourself – “what theological topics do I need to focus on this year?” and then do it! Start with just one or two big themes each year.
– The key is to make it doable and not to overwhelm anyone. It is better to do the realistic thing than not do anything.

Encourage Questions!
– Make use of a “question box” in your ministry. This provides kids with the opportunity to ask questions anonymously if necessary, makes a safe space for question-asking, and gives you (the leader) time and space to answer questions and get prepared!
– Use discussion time differently. Don’t just ask kids the questions, allow them to ask you questions. Kids are going to be asking questions somewhere, we want it to be in the church!

Use Interactive Methods!
– Kids learn in a host of different ways. Incorporate them into the way you teach theological themes:
VISUAL: Use pictures, videos and posters to connect the point.
AURAL: Find worship songs that pair up with the theological concept you’re teaching.
VERBAL: Teach a lesson or story, provide books to read and Bible passages to look up.
PHYSICAL: Find games and hands-on activities that accompany the theological theme.
LOGICAL: Give kids worksheets, puzzles and other ways to reason out a theological truth.
SOCIAL: Provide time for small-group discussion on the topic at hand.
SOLITARY: Give time for reflection at prayer stations, with a journal or a quiet activity.
– The point is not to add more to your agenda or to do all of these thingsat once. The point is to use a variety of ways to drive home a theological theme over a course of several weeks.

Make it easy for parents to buy in & follow up!
– Parents and kids are busy, but their partnership is important to theological development.
– Use simple methods to make parents champions when it comes to teaching kids. Use tools like simple social media posts, texts, sharing videos, songs and apps, and 1-2 discussion questions to get families talking.

Theology matters for kids and for us. We are all theologians in some form. Let’s embrace the title, dig deep and teach kids beautiful theology that engages their minds, touches their hearts and moves their feet to action.

Resources I Mentioned:

Little Book, Big Story
The Bible Project
“What’s in the Bible?” from Phil Vischer
The Bible App for Kids
– “Give Them Jesus” by Dillon Thornton
– “The Family Bible Devotional” by Sarah Wells
#theologytuesday Series on the blog

If you were at CPC, I’d love to connect with you through Instagram, Facebook or email. If there are any questions I can answer, please let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *