So, here’s the question: If you have less than 20 times to connect to a sixth grader this year, what are you going to teach them? Are you going to take them chronologically through the entire Bible? Are you going to cover your denomination’s 14 core doctrines? Are you going to teach verse-by-verse through the book of Habakkuk? Are you going to amplify whatever your lead pastor is speaking about on Sunday? Even if you are in denial and still convinced most of your sixth graders will show up 52 times this year, you still won’t find the best option in the list above.
Whenever you add up the actual amount of time you have to influence the spiritual direction of a kid’s life, it could make your task seem daunting and even impossible. Think about it this way. This year, the average middle schooler will spend over…
- 200 hours studying math in school.
- 300 hours watching TV or movies.
- 600 hours using a mobile phone.
But in the most ideal of scenarios, you will only get about 40 hours in a year to tell that same middle schooler everything they need to know about God, Jesus, faith, forgiveness, grace, love, life, and eternity. So, what’s the plan? How are you going to influence the spiritual direction of the average child or teenager when you only have a few minutes every other week? You could increase your time with each kid if you build a Christian school, show up for dinner at their house once a week, start a 6 a.m. Bible study before school, bring back lock-ins, crusade against competitive sports on Sunday, force every parent to sign a 52-week contract, or add mid-week programming. Or you could rethink your strategy to make the most of the limited time you will have at every phase.
If you only have a toddler, or a sixth grader, or a teenager for a few times a year, what is the one thing you don’t want them to miss?
It’s simple. Just make sure every story, every principle, and every truth reinforce for everyone what it means to love God and love others. Jesus says your content should be organized around a relational motive. Love. When you really think about it, every commandment, every principle, every parable, every story, and every doctrine can be easily arranged to reflect how you love God, others, and yourself. Love is the ONE thing that matters most. Love is the distinctive motive of God’s story throughout the Bible. It’s why God made us in His image, so He could love us and we could love Him. Love is the distinctive message of the gospel of Jesus.
- Jesus lived to model God’s love.
- Jesus died to prove God’s love.
- Jesus rose again to empower us with God’s love.
Love is the distinctive mark of the church. Just ask Paul or James. They both agreed. That’s why they reposted what Jesus said in their letters to the church. They referred to Jesus’ commandment to love as the “Royal Law,” as if to say this idea belongs at the top of everything.
With that in mind, how would you organize core Scriptural insights in a way that could help kids understand how to love God? What are some of the most important things you can make sure a kid understands about God’s character? The list below shows one main idea and three supporting thoughts every kid should embrace. Keep these ideas in mind as you turn the wonder dial in their lives so you can help kids understand, “Who is God?”
I AM CREATED TO PURSUE AN AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH MY CREATOR.
Wonder Insight #1
What I see around me reveals a Creator I cannot see. This means the created world gives every kid evidence to prove that God exists, is all-powerful and all-knowing.
Wonder Insight #2
I am created in the image of my perfect Heavenly Father who has an unending love for me. This suggests that every kid was made by God to experience His love for them.
Wonder Insight #3
I live in pursuit of an infinite God who desires an eternal relationship with me. This implies that every kid needs to recognize that God is at work in their life to help them know how to love Him.
Whether you customize this list or make your own, you should decide on the core insights that you want a kid to understand. Then organize those insights in a way that influences a kid’s relationships with God, themselves, and others. This keeps every kid focused on the value of their relationship with God.
Sure, it can seem monotonous teaching the same thing year after year; but it’s the way kids learn. They learn through creative repetition. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to make sure they don’t miss something really big.