Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds… Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
DEUTERONOMY 11:18–19 NIV
I have been struggling with how to teach my children – about God, about life, about making good choices, about eternity. These are BIG topics that keep scholars busy for lifetimes. They can quickly get complex as you peel back layer upon layer and pile question upon question. But I’ve learned the hard way that the key to teaching children, or really anyone (myself included), is meeting them where they are.
We see a great example of this in Acts 8:26-40, when God leads Philip to an encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch. The man was reading scripture from Isaiah, struggling with its meaning. Philip didn’t launch into an overwhelming lecture about every mysterious facet of life. He started with the exact scripture the man was struggling with, and helped him see how it applied to Jesus.
I can learn so much from this! Sometimes I get so excited about God and where He’s leading me that I run full speed, chasing squirrels in every direction. Whoever might have been interested in following me has no interest in squirrels, leaving me alone and lost in the woods. But using Philip’s example, I can learn to be more helpful to those around me, as well as to myself.
- Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to the people He wants you to assist.
- Understand where they are in their journey and what their immediate concerns are.
- Start right where they are, and direct them to Jesus.
I desperately want to stop overwhelming my children (and everyone else I meet) with random squirrels, and simply lead them to Jesus. So I wrote this little script to help keep myself on track when teaching my kids. But as I did, I realized God was also using it to teach me – to take me back to simple. He nudged up against my intellectual striving, reminding me not to be ashamed of simplicity, but to be relieved by it.
Keep it Simple
(a decision making script for kids and their squirrel chasing parents)
- Do you believe in God?
- No? I’ll make the decisions while we focus on learning about God. Get ready for a nature walk!
- Yes! Move on to question two.
- Do you believe Jesus is God’s Son?
- No? I’ll make the decisions while we focus on learning about Jesus.
- Yes! Move on to question three.
- What did Jesus teach us about this situation?
- First, let’s ask Him to make His teaching clear to us.
- Second, let’s check the Bible.
- The gift of the internet has made this part super easy. Just google “what does Jesus say about (insert topic here).” Use the results to find a scripture to dive as deep as the interested person is ready to go.
- Be sure to help children put it into terms they can understand; meet them where they are!
- What if it’s a tough topic we can’t easily understand when we read the Bible? Just as Philip helped the eunuch, sometimes we need help with interpretation, too! Reach out to a trusted leader in the church for guidance.
- Should we follow what Jesus says?
- If you’re not sure, go back to the first two questions, then move on to question five.
- What happens if we don’t follow what Jesus says?
- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6 (NIV)
- Why do we want to get to the Father?
- He provides an eternity of love in heaven.
- So do our everyday choices matter?
- No? I’ll make the decisions while we focus on learning about heaven and hell.
- Yes! It’s part of following Jesus to an eternity in heaven. Move on to question eight.
- So what should we do when we’re confused about how to act or what choice to make?
- Follow Jesus. He is God. He is the way to heaven, and that’s the direction we want to go.
I could and will spend the rest of my life absorbing the never-ending truth related to each of these simple questions. I am fascinated by the layers and possibilities and intricate details that all work mysteriously and perfectly together. But whenever I feel complexity overwhelming the truth, I am so grateful that I can always go back to simple.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 18:3 (NIV)
Missy Funderburk is a writer exploring what it means to live every day with Christ. She lives in Florida with her husband and two kids. You can catch up with her over at her blog https://thepath2eternity.com/. If she’s not there, it can be assumed she has wandered off to chase random squirrels.