Nowhere are stories more helpful than in reaching children. Nor is there any place the right stories are more important. Children being at such a tender age, are often most receptive to the gospel. So, it's important to use the right stories to communicate the right truth. Let's look at three things children must understand when we present the gospel and examine how the right stories help.
1. We are sinners. This area is often the easiest to communicate to children, because unlike adults, they have not allowed pride to creep into their lives. To communicate sin, use examples of disobedience from their own lives such as lying, cheating, selfishness, and rebellion. Include examples of your own sin so they understand this is one area you are just like them.
2. Christ died for us. With sin comes punishment. But since you are illustrating the gospel, children need a story about someone substituting themselves in their place. So using a true or "imagine this" story, with as many details as possible, explain what would happen if another took their punishment (time-out, removal of privileges, etc.). Help children understand the suffering—the agony, pain, embarrassment, ridicule—that a person would go through on their behalf. If it is a child who has experienced your love, a story in which you are his substitute is even more meaningful. Also, be sure to explain that the empty tomb the third day means that God accepted what His Son did for them.
3. We are saved by faith. Here is where the most damage is often done in children's understanding of the gospel. Don't use a story built around someone inviting a person into his heart. The word, believe as used in John 3:16 means "to trust." So build a story around a child trusting a chair to hold them, trusting a lifeguard to save them, or trusting an adult to catch them as they jump from a wall. It is helpful to have them pray and tell God they are trusting Christ, but be certain to make clear to them that saying a prayer does not save. It is trusting Christ that saves.
The right stories are powerful as long as they communicate the right message. As with people of all ages, be clear, be clear, be clear!
(Note: This article originally appeared in EvanTell's 2012 Fall issue of Toolbox. View our Toolbox archives!)
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