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.
Many school districts are using distance learning for at least the first semester. While some of you may be dreading several more months of this hybrid learning, it actually gives you an opportunity to add Bible study to your child’s day.
Whether it’s distance learning or homeschooling, most of you will find your kids have extra time in their day. It may be because they are no longer commuting to school or because some of their extra curricular activities have been cancelled. If your child is in a district where a certain amount of work must be completed, but at the child’s own pace, the lack of changing classes and other time wasters in school creates extra time.
Why not make use of this extra time to teach your kids about God? It doesn’t matter if they are attending public school, because in your home you can use that extra time for Bible study. Here are four great ways to make time to study the Bible with your kids.
Use the time your kids would have spent commuting for a family devotional. Even if you took your kids to school, that gives you a good ten to twenty extra minutes to start the day with a family devotional.
Use Teach One Reach One activities to help your kids practice school skills. Some districts are giving parents ideas, but allow them to use whatever means they prefer to help their kids practice academic skills. Originally created for faith based tutoring, our website has hundreds of free activity ideas to help your kids practice academic skills in language arts, math, science, health and more.
Add a Bible class to their schedule. Once again, this may depend upon how your school district structures the day. If kids are working at their own pace and just checking in for lectures periodically, you may find you have time to add your own extra class – Bible – to the schedule. Our website has tons of free ideas for activities for regular Bible lessons, too.
In discussions about any number of topics, people often resort to using logical fallacies in an attempt to prove their point. These fallacies appear logical on the surface, but are actually based on poor logic. As a result, the arguments often collapse under the questioning of someone aware of logical fallacies.
Your children may be exposed to logical fallacies used by people trying to undermine God as well as Christians trying to convince them to obey God. It is not necessary for Christians to use logical fallacies as God is Truth. Teaching your kids about logical fallacies can help them avoid false teaching, attempts to convince them to deny God and other things that could weaken or destroy their faith.
It is crucial that you avoid using logical fallacies in your teaching of the Bible to your kids. Often a little research or re-wording a few sentences can remove the most common logical fallacies used by Christians and actually make your Bible lesson or points stronger as a result.
Below are some of the more commonly used logical fallacies. There are many more you can access online if you wish to explore this topic in more depth.
Fact, Inference or Opinion. While technically not a logical fallacy, it can confuse children in a similar fashion. Authors and speakers may state or imply something as if it were a fact, when it is actually their opinion. Follow up questions can often expose a fact or inference as an opinion. Inferences and opinions can be correct, but it is important to understand whether or not there are actual facts that support or undermine them.
Existence on the internet equates to verifiable truth. While this also falls under other logical fallacies, it is an important dynamic for many young people. They often get much of their information online. They have come to believe if a statement or source is listed on a search engine it is a reliable source of truth. In reality, anything found online must go through the same filters for truth as information obtained from other sources.
Correlation equals causation. This is the assumption that because two things are often found in correlation to one another that one causes the other. This may or may not actually be true and requires further scrutiny to assess causation. Example: Christianity causes mental illnesses. The logical fallacy would assume there is something about Christianity that causes mental illness because a large number of Christians have a self reported mental illness. There could be any number of reasons for the cause of mental illnesses found among Christians.
False dilemma. This assumes that the extremes of an issue are the only options. It is often used to portray Christianity as extremist. Example: The Bible says lying is sinful. The false dilemma would assumethat therefore Christians believeeveryone who tells a lie is going to Hell. This is ignoring the possibility of repentance, forgiveness and other Christian beliefs.
Argument from authority. This fallacy quotes an “expert” who may or may not actually know the truth. This could be anything from a secular scientist, to a famous preacher and even taking Bible scriptures out of context. There is also a possibility that what the “expert” said surrounding the quote actually helped to clarify that the speaker believed the exact opposite of the quote.
Red herring. This logical fallacy is usually used by someone in the course of an argument, often when they appear to be losing. It is a statement thrown out to distract the opponent and change the topic of the argument.
Loaded question. This logical fallacy makes use of a question in which any answer will make the person giving the answer look foolish. It is often asked not because the person actually wants an answer to their question, but because they want their opponent to appear in a negative light. For example, if someone asked, “Where exactly is Heaven?”, any answer would be problematic. Attempting to give an exact location would cause scorn, because there is no way to prove you are correct. Likewise, responding “I don’t know” makes it appear there is not a Heaven because you cannot identify its location.
Possibility fallacy. This fallacy argues that because something could possibly happen, it will probably happen. This can be used for example to make people feel threatened by God in some way. God struck Annanias dead for lying, therefore he will probably strike Bob dead if he is lying, too. God may or may not give everyone the same earthly consequences for disobedience.
Ad hominem. In this logical fallacy, a person discounts what is said based on the person rather than analyzing what was actually said. This often takes the form of disparaging the person. Example: “Well of course the Apostles confirmed the resurrection. They had an ulterior motive.”
Bandwagon. This assumes that if the majority of people believe something to be true, then it must indeed be true. The truth may actually rest with the minority.
Either-Or. In this fallacy, a person presents two unacceptable options as if they are the only possible options. In reality, there may be numerous possible options that are better for one or both parties.
Argument from ignorance. This fallacy is used by someone in a discussion when they begin throwing out ideas and “facts” with no actual knowledge of whether those things have been tested or are true.
Circular Logic. This is when someone continually repeats their original belief as the support for its validity. Example. “That is just wrong.” “Why?” “Because it is just wrong to do that.”
Dogmatism. This person will not listen to any views except their own. Nothing the other person says or does will ever change their mind on the topic.
Emotional Appeals. This often occurs when someone trusts their emotions more than any evidence. It can also be used in an attempt to scare the other person into agreeing with them. Example: “God says it is a sin to lie.” “It just does not feel right for God to get upset because someone lied to spare another person’s feelings. Surely, God is okay with those lies.”
Fallacy of exclusion. Often this is used by someone who can think of one or two specific examples of the supposed truth of their argument. Those examples, however, may be the exception instead of the rule. Example: “All Christians are hypocrites. I knew this Christian one time, who was a preacher and I caught him lying.”
Faulty analogy. This is an attempt to relate two things that may actually have nothing in common. Example: Christianity is the opiate of the masses.
Non sequitur. This is when the conclusion does not follow the premise. Example: If God were good, he would not let bad things happen.
Slippery slope. This logical fallacy is itself a slippery slope. Sometimes starting down a road does quickly lead to more intense consequences. The fallacy is in assuming every choice will lead to rapid, desperate consequences. Example: If we don’t have Sunday School on New Year’s Day, the next thing you know, we will never have Sunday School.
Lack of evidence. This is when someone claims you cannot be correct in your position, because there is no definitive, irrefutable proof or evidence. This is often used in religion in disagreements that align with, “You can not prove God exists.” and “You can not prove God does not exist.” In reality, neither side will be able to produce irrefutable evidence until Christ returns.
Straw man. In this fallacy, one person makes a statement so extreme, no one would agree with it in hopes of destroying the other person’s argument. Example: Two people are discussing Christianity. One person says, “Hitler was a Christian.” As if the fact that Hitler may have been a Christian, therefore undermines Christianity itself.
Repetition. While technically not a logical fallacy, repetition is a common tactic in propaganda. The theory is that if you repeat your message often enough and loudly enough, many people will begin to believe it is true – regardless of the statement’s actual validity.
Glittering generality. This is when people use a broadly defined word such as “love” without defining it in an attempt to win an argument. Example: Two people are discussing something God has called a sin in the Bible and whether or not they should speak to a fellow Christian regarding that sin.. “But God wants us to love our neighbors.” While that is indeed true, “love” in this person’s argument is used very generally. Love in this case may actually be encouraging the person to repent of their sin, not ignoring the sin.
Transfer. This is another technique often used in propaganda. It is portraying someone or something in a particular way in hopes that image will transfer its meaning upon the person or philosophy. It is often employed when portraying Christians in movies and books with actors and characters who appear judgmental, backward and unattractive. The hope is that those introduced to the image will transfer the negative image to all of Christianity and not just that specific example.
Snob appeal. This is an attempt to convince an opponent that everyone that person admires agrees with the speaker’s position. It is often most effective with people who are already in an elite circle or are in hopes of becoming part of one in the future. It is a form of peer pressure that focuses on attaining or maintaining a highly desired social status in their culture.
Let’s be honest. We leave in a greedy world. Our society wants us to believe we need all sorts of things that are actually wants. Christians aren’t immune from materialism either. So what can you do to raise kids who truly understand God’s view of needs v. wants?
Grab some magazines, random items around your house and a Bible. Tell your kids the story of David and Bathsheba found in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 and 1 Kings 1 and 2. It’s not necessary with young children to focus on the sexual aspects of the story, but rather that David felt like he needed Uriah’s wife, even though he already had wives of his own.
Explain that David was so intent on getting what he wanted, he committed several sins to get it. Explain that God wants us to understand we actually need very little. Most of the things we think we need, we actually want. Explain that when we get confused, we can often do things that make God unhappy and even sin – especially if we primarily focus on getting all of those things we want for ourselves.
Explain to your kids, you are going to play the game Wants v. Needs. Hold up one of the items you gathered. Ask your kids whether it is something they want or need. If they believe it is something they need, they should also share how much of it they think they need in a given time period. Older children can be asked to support their choices with evidence.
After a few items, give them the magazines. Have them find pictures of things they want versus things they need. Older children can examine ads to see how companies try to convince people they need something, they actually merely want.
Can your family come to an agreement about what your needs actually are in life? Now think about playing the same game if you were a family living in one of the poorest countries on earth instead of one of the richest. Would your answers be different? What if your grandparents had played the game when they were little? What if Jesus played the game when he lived on earth?
End your time by discussing ways your family can be less concerned with getting “stuff”. How can you all be more grateful for the blessings God has given you? How can you share your blessings with others who may not even have everything they need?
As the secular world’s views take permanent hold on every aspect of our culture, it’s more important than ever your kids become critical thinkers. Not to try and rewrite the Bible so God allows them to do whatever they want, but so they can see through the arguments that are meant to encourage them to reject God.
We have had several recent posts about critical thinking skills, but there are some underlying cognitive or thinking skills that will help your kids on their Christian walk. You can do a lot of things at home that will help them sharpen these skills, while also teaching them how these gifts from God can help them stay close to God if they use them well.
Comprehension. Do your kids really understand what they are being taught at church and home about the Bible and what God wants from them and for them? Be careful. Just because your kids can quote a neatly turned phrase, doesn’t mean they really understand what it means, why it’s important to God or how to apply it to their lives.
Analysis. Can your kids analyze a doctrine, argument, philosophy and their own lives and compare them to God’s standard? Or are they comparing things to some other, less reliable or godly standard?
Creation. Can your kids take what they read in the Bible and create a life that is pleasing to God? Can they create a personal ministry that serves others and teaches them about God? Can they eventually create a family of their own that will be the Christian family God wants?
Creativity. Can they take the commands and principles in the Bible and apply them in situations that aren’t an exact match for what is in the Bible? In other words, can they take the commands and principles from a story like the Good Samaritan and apply them appropriately to a situation that doesn’t involve a man robbed and beaten, but in which god would expect the same commands and principles to be obeyed?
Communication. Can your kids clearly communicate what they believe to others? Can they communicate the Gospel message in a compelling way? Can they explain how God makes a difference in their lives? Can they explain what God wants from them and for them so others understand the importance of obedience?
Helping your kids work on these thinking skills can better prepare them for critical thinking, living the Christian life and sharing their faith. They’re part of the strong faith foundation your kids need to remain faithful to God in this secular world.