The faith of a child is special.
There is a reason Jesus uses the faith of a child as His example of admirable faith over that of an adult or even the religious experts surrounding Him. Children can experience the wonder of God in a unique way.
God created kids with an inherent sense of wonder. As children’s ministry leaders, we can help kids explore the wonder of who God is and what He does, so they build a lifetime of faith.
As kids develop, their ability to interact with the wonder of God also grows and changes. At each stage of childhood, our churches can meet kids where they are and help them discover that they are known, loved, and led by God.
We can inspire wonder in kids at each age level by the way we teach them God’s Word, encourage them to seek Him on their own, and equip them to declare His wonder to the rest of the world.
Wonder in Early childhood
Preschoolers are the epitome of wonder. They live in a world of imagination. Preschoolers love stories. They really love asking questions. God has created them with minds and hearts that absorb the wonders of His world and His Word.
Teachers can capitalize on preschoolers’ natural sense of wonder by telling Bible stories in fun, creative ways. Teachers have the opportunity to tell the most amazing, wonder-filled stories in the world to people who will eat them up.
By emphasizing that the Bible’s stories are 100% true, leaders can help kids discover that God’s stories are even better than the fairy tales, princess stories, and superhero sagas that preschoolers love. Helping kids separate these two will lead to opportunities for kids to wonder in the bigness and amazingness of the God who loves them.
What if we trained families to look for opportunities in every bit of everyday life to point kids toward the wonder of who God is and what He has done?
During nature walks, families can identify unique things God made. While reading books or watching movies, parents can watch for opportunities to talk about God. Parents can read Bible stories with their families. They can help kids learn early on that God created them for a purpose.
Preschoolers naturally want to help when given the chance, but they also are naturally focused on themselves. By giving preschoolers regular opportunities to serve others, they can learn how God calls us to declare His wonder to others.
Look for simple ways for kids to serve. Let them brainstorm ways they can help others, reinforcing that the Holy Spirit will lead them, not just adults.
Wonder in Lower Elementary
Kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders still love stories. They are very active and need lots of movement. They are beginning to enjoy friendships and want to please adults in authority. Because they are thinking more concretely, they can develop a deeper foundation of faith.
Teachers can help kids in this age group act out the wonder-filled stories of the Bible. This can include wondering about the emotions, feelings, and choices of the Bible characters. This is the time that they can begin to understand how Jesus loves them.
By explaining the gospel in very clear and simple terms, lower elementary students can learn that, through Jesus, they can have salvation.
Encourage families to read Bible stories at home. Look for ways to teach the same stories at home and at church. Familiarity with Scripture provides a foundation for their wondering about God. As they learn to process their faith, they can do so with the foundation of Scripture.
Begin a practice of sharing about “God Moments.” Encourage kids to think about their day and identify ways they saw God. It may be in things He created, the way they saw Him move, or maybe the way they learned something more about Him.
Encouraging kids to share these moments will help them practice looking for the wonders of God in their daily lives. This might lead them to share these experiences with others.
Wonder in Upper Elementary
Friends become even more important to upper elementary students. Third, fourth, and fifth graders have developed abilities to think more deeply and love facts. Competition and fun are high priorities.
By upper elementary, kids’ curiosity and desire for knowledge are at a high. Continue to explore the stories of the Bible, but in more depth and including more detail. Explore how the stories of the Bible connect together. Help kids brainstorm how each story fits into God’s bigger picture of the gospel.
Combine the knowledge kids are gaining in school with the wonder of how God created the world. Include science experiments and discussions about how God has designed the world to reinforce the wonder of His sovereignty in creation.
Encourage kids to ask questions and wonder aloud.
This is the perfect age to give this age group tools for spending independent time in God’s Word. Encourage kids to keep a journal of their “God Moments.” They can record what God shows them and what they read in His word.
As kids get older, they will encounter more conflicting worldviews, especially with the invasiveness of YouTube and social media. Equip them to not only defend the basics of the faith but to be able to find biblical answers for themselves, as well as be comfortable asking believing adults hard questions.
Wonder About the Future
What could the future look like when churches and families help kids seek the wonder of God throughout each stage of their development? In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul said to Timothy, “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”
Timothy was one of the leaders Paul trusted most. One of the contributing factors to his salvation was Timothy’s spiritual upbringing throughout childhood. Your commitment to helping kids experience the wonder of God at each level of their development will have an eternal impact.
You, your church, and the parents you serve will all be wonder-filled reflections of God to kids who will become the same for their generation.