As Easter approaches, your children may be asking you questions about Jesus. Maybe they are hearing things in church or questions are arising as you go through An Expectant Easter. You may feel intimidated by the idea of clearly explaining the gospel to your children. Maybe you have this idea that they couldn’t possibly understand it fully, so why try? Or maybe you personally don’t understand it, so how could you possibly explain it to them? You might be wondering how to help your child understand things that are still a mystery to you. What a beautiful opportunity to journey together! I have learned so many of the most important things in life alongside my children. Let me encourage you to push through those awkward feelings and make this a priority in your home.
Not Rushing the Gospel
Rather than viewing this as a one-time event, realize that teaching our children about Jesus is more of a journey, than a sprint. My first piece of advice is not to pressure or push. Your role as their parent is to share the truths of the gospel often and to allow the Holy Spirit to open your child's heart. If this Easter season is the first time you have opened the Bible with your child or have had these conversations, let me challenge you to make it a continual part of your life.
It can be tempting to rush to the last point and seek what may be a premature response from a child by inviting them to respond by saying a prayer before they have an adequate understanding of what the gospel really is. It serves children best long-term when parents ensure that their child clearly understands the full message of God’s redemption—which includes the story of creation, the Fall, and God’s restoration through Jesus Christ, before jumping to the “punch line” of how to respond.
Elaborating on the full gospel over time helps protect children from growing up to trust in an experience in which they prayed a prayer, without a real heart understanding and decision. It shifts their spiritual security from a one-time personal event to the actual substance of the gospel, which is centered on Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. For many people, salvation is not a one-moment revelation and decision, but instead, a process over many moments. Just continue to open the door and invite your child into a relationship with God.
The Gospel is a Story, Not a Formula
First off, tell your story. If you have made a personal decision to follow Christ, share your testimony with your children. Tell them what led you to that choice and what your relationship with Him is like. What changed in your heart and life since making that choice?
The gospel is the greatest story ever told. I am so thankful for excellent picture books that help share this story in an engaging way without straying from the truth. Here are some of my favorite books that explain the gospel in a child-friendly way. Having these resources in your homes and being available to discuss them with your children is a great first step.
- The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross by Carl Laferton
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
- The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
- The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy
- The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski
- Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey by Lithos Kids
Sharing the Gospel Straight from the Bible
Here are the key points of the gospel and some scripture to help guide you in understanding and explaining the gospel.
God created humans to be in relationship with Him.
God made the whole world and everything in it. Because of this, He is also in charge of everything. He made people in His image and for a specific purpose. He created people for His pleasure- to give Him glory and to have a relationship with us.
Colossians 1:16 "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
Humans sinned and sin leads to separation.
Sin is choosing to disobey and dishonor God. The first two humans, Adam and Eve sinned. They made a decision to be disobedient and ever since then, all humans (except Jesus) have sinned. This sin separates us from God. The separation created by sin was so big, and there was nothing humans could do to fix it. The only way to fix the problem was for a perfect, sinless one to take the punishment for all of humankind’s sins.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God gave Jesus as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sin.
Jesus is God’s son. Jesus was born on earth—fully God and fully man. He lived a perfect and holy life, never once sinning. He was the only way to fix the problem. God made a choice to send his only son, Jesus, as the one who would take the punishment for everyone’s sins. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay the punishment that our sins deserve. Three days later, Jesus rose to life and defeated death. This showed God's great power and that what God had been saying since the beginning of time was true! Jesus paid the price and now God sees us as blameless and we can live close with God again.
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
God gives us the opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life (becoming spiritually alive).
Salvation means “to be saved.” Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have the chance to be saved from separation from God forever. We can’t be good enough to earn that salvation. It is a free gift from God. Eternal life means knowing God and coming alive spiritually.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Romans 10:9-10 “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God..”
Responding to the Gospel
The Bible instructs us in how to respond to the gospel. Once again, don’t force your child through these steps. Often, when a child or adult truly grasps the gospel they walk themselves through these steps without a list or a guide. I personally just like having these key points as references in my own mind to remind myself as I walk a child or adult through responding to the gospel when they are ready.
A- Admit & Ask: We admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We ask Jesus to forgive us for our sins and turn away from our sin.
B- Believe: We believe that Jesus is God’s son and that what Jesus did paid the price for our sin.
C- Confess & commit: We confess our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We commit to a life of knowing and following him.
Creating a Gospel Culture in your Home
The gospel is not just a holiday event. If you are looking for tools to continually open the Bible and allow the gospel to be a part of your family culture, I recommend attending a local church, praying as a family, and starting a family devotional with your children. My three favorites are Our 24 Family Ways, The Ology, and Leading Little Ones to God.
Making the decision to follow Christ is the biggest, most amazing decision you or your child will ever make. It would be my highest honor to answer any questions you have or walk alongside you as you or your child embarks on the journey to follow Christ. Feel free to reach out to me anytime on Instagram or via email.
You can also watch my Instagram Live Video with Whitney from @brighterdaypress where we discuss explaining the gospel to children. Watch it here.