Kids are full of questions. It can be exhausting to help them find the answers they want. When many kids reach preschool, their parents become tired of answering the constant questions. They begin evading or changing the subject. Soon kids stop asking their questions. They leave those holes in their knowledge or find other ways to get the answers they want and need.
Unfortunately, if their questions are spiritual, this can have disastrous results. Those unasked and unanswered questions by parents can lead to doubts or answers provided by people who don’t give godly answers.
There are fun ways to be proactive and teach your kids some of the more difficult concepts in the Bible. Instead of teaching your kids a bunch of big words with definitions they still may not understand, using familiar objects can make the concepts understandable and memorable.
Object lessons use an object familiar to kids and take something about that object to help them understand a more difficult and often abstract idea in the Bible. We’ve listed a few examples below to get you started.
- The Trinity. The idea of one God who has three different manifestations is extremely abstract and difficult for even adults to fully understand. Ice, a bowl and a microwave can help. Show your kids the ice. Ask them to describe it and tell you everything they know about it. Place it in a bowl and heat it in the microwave just long enough to melt the ice, but not hot enough to create steam. Have your kids describe the water. Then place it back in the microwave (or on a pan on the stove) and get it hot enough for the water to become steam. Ask your kids to describe the steam. Point out that all three were water, but in different forms. In fact they were all from the exact same water. Draw the connections to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
- How our behaviors can be influenced by others. Take some celery (or white carnations), glasses of water and food dye. Ask your kids to describe the celery. Take particular note of the lovely green color. Make a fresh cut at the bottom of a stalk and place it in a glass of water you have colored with food dye. Observe as the celery takes in the colored water and begins to change color. Explain to your kids that others can influence our beliefs, thoughts, words and actions if we spend enough time with them. The celery did not expect to change color by hanging out in the colored water, but it did. Likewise, they can be influenced to do things God doesn’t want them to do – even if they don’t intend to disobey Him – merely by spending a lot of time with people who don’t obey God.
- The Blood of Jesus covering our sins. Take a piece of white paper, yellow markers or crayons and red plastic wrap (depending on how dark it is, you may need more than one layer put together for this to work). Have your kids name some things that God has told us are sins. Encourage them to write or draw these sins in yellow marker on the white paper. Explain about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and how our sins are forgiven through baptism…because the blood of Jesus covers those sins. Place the red plastic wrap (representing the blood of Jesus) over the sins your kids have written and watch them disappear. For older kids, you may also want to discuss trying to avoid sin and praying for forgiveness once they have become Christians.
- Sins darken our hearts if we reject God and remain in sin. Grab some bread without preservatives. Cut it into the shape of a heart (dampening it slightly will make the mold grow faster). Ask your kids to name some sins. As they name a sin, have them use their hands to “put” that “sin” on their heart, by naming the sin and touching the bread with their hands (and the imaginary word representing the sin). After several “sins” have been placed on the bread, put the bread heart in a plastic baggie and seal it. Watch it for several days. Point out to your kids that at first those “sins” appear to have no impact on the bread heart. As more and more mold grows, discuss the problems with remaining enmeshed in sin. Continue until the bread is totally covered in mold. Compare it to the original state of the heart. Point out that sin can darken our hearts – especially over time.
There are many other object lessons you can find online, or you can create your own. Young children may still struggle a bit even after an object lesson, but over time object lessons can help your kids better understand and remember difficult spiritual concepts.