Why teach the Bible to toddlers?
Teaching the Bible to toddlers and preschoolers is a passion of mine – one that stems from a deep desire for children to know the God who created them and to come into a saving relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for them.
Today, as we begin our series on the “how to’s” of teaching the Bible to very young children, I want to share with you my heart on this subject.
Shortly after Joshua was born I began teaching the nursery-aged children in our church. It was something I enjoyed and found that I was gifted at. But it didn’t go beyond that until God gave me a vision during prayer one day.
In the vision I was riding a beautiful white horse (funny, because I don’t really like horses and have never ridden one). My hair was long and I was wearing a flowing white robe. In front of me stood a man, also dressed in white. His arms were open, waiting for me. As the horse stopped in front of him, I quickly came down and ran to greet him. I cannot even begin to describe the overwhelming joy of that meeting!
Then I looked to my left and there, wearing little white robes, was a line of small children the end of which I could not see. One by one, I introduced these children to their Lord, Jesus Christ. What more could I do? He had received me with open arms and had given me joy unspeakable. And I wanted the same for the children standing next to me.
This is the driving force behind the Bible Basics series. And this is why I feel it is so important to start teaching our children when they are very young. Babies and toddlers are gaining understanding of a lot more than we often give them credit for. They begin developing the basis for language before they are even born. As they get a little older we introduce them to things like shapes, colors, and even letters. Hey, we even put them in front of educational television shows as babies and toddlers. So, why not be proactive in teaching them the Bible?
When our oldest son, Joshua, was 18 months old, he stood in front me one day. His arm was stretched out and he repeatedly said, “Cross, cross, done” as he looked at his outstretched arm. Did he fully understanding the saving work that Jesus did on the cross? Probably not. Did he even know of his own need for the salvation that Christ offers? I don’t think he did at that time. But he knew the basics of the gospel, and the foundation for his understanding of sin and salvation had already been laid.
This incident reinforced my growing ideas about the capacity of young children to hear the Word and for that hearing to one day lead to belief and trust in Jesus Christ. Joshua did put his trust in Jesus about a year later. The signs of his relationship with Christ have been evident as he grows and matures.
This week, as we dig into more of the practical aspects of teaching the Bible to toddlers, I want to keep the main goal in mind. I’m not aiming to produce children with great biblical understanding for the sake of knowledge or good moral character. It is always with the purpose of introducing children to the Lord so that, in time and by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, they will have the opportunity to say “Yes” to Him and to know the great joy of being in right relationship with the One Who created them and loves them with an everlasting love.