How to Share the Gospel with Your Preschooler
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6 NLT
It’s never too early to begin sharing God’s good news with our children. Even preschoolers can begin to grasp the idea of God and the gospel, and there is nothing more beautiful than watching them learn to delight in their Creator.
While Solomon’s words of wisdom in Proverbs 22 are not a promise that our children will come to believe in Christ and his resurrection, we are still entrusted with the precious job of telling our children God’s beautiful story of creation, sin, redemption and the restoration of all things. And we can take comfort and hope that through it all, God is our strength. If, as parents, we can hold on to that, we can entrust our children to Him as well.
As we begin the work of spreading the gospel in our own families, let Psalm 18:1 be the anthem of our hearts and minds: “I love you, LORD, my strength.” (NIV)
Here are three key components to keep in mind as you begin to teach your little ones the gospel:
1. Teach Your Preschooler the Gospel by Praying Near and With Them
“And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:15 NIV
Prayer is paramount to parenting. No prayers are fleeting. All of them reach the compassionate ear of our God in heaven. He hears us, sees us, and answers us according to His will. Jesus died to open up this line of communication for us, and through the Holy Spirit we are able to communicate even what we cannot put into words to our Father and Creator.
Teaching the gospel to our children requires us to pray for them and with them – it is one of the earliest ways children get a sense of what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Teaching our children how to pray, and letting them listen and witness our prayers, teaches them there is a love even greater than that of mom and dad.
The Power of Prayer in Sharing the Gospel with Our Preschoolers
Prayer points them to Him, the only One they can depend on with the totality of their lives. Though they are little now, the notes of prayer we sing throughout their days do not go unnoticed in heaven.
Psalm 116:1-2 says, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (NIV) Our job as parents is to call on Him all of our days, for our children to witness this, and to teach them to call on Him daily by praying with them. Put together a personal, simple prayer, to say together every night and at meal time, and then leave room and time to encourage special notes of gratitude and requests for healing and help. God honors our prayerful pursuit of Him. Pray for the ant they accidentally stepped on and mourn over. Pray for the boy at the park who skinned his knee. Thank God for cheerios and milk for breakfast. For then, we are reminded ourselves, to live out daily 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray continually.” (NIV)
2. Read the Bible with Your Preschooler Early and Often
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the water, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV
Can I be honest? I don’t always notice the fruit of reading God’s word with my children, even when we are good about keeping the daily discipline of doing it. But it’s glaringly obvious, through their behavior and my lack of patience, when we drift away from it.
God’s word is infallible. He is trustworthy, and His promises are true. We can begin to speak life into our children long before they have the capacity to comprehend the full Truth of God’s Word. Reminding them who they are everyday plants seeds of future righteousness in their hearts. As parents, we cannot control their thoughts, but we can steer their influences.
We can speak truth into their lives, reminding them who and Whose they are. While our children are little, they watch our example. James reminds us not only to read the word and listen to the word but to do what it says. Sharing the truth of the Gospel to our children goes beyond making sure they know what it says. It’s doing what it says on display for them to see. Teach them what we know, trusting God will prepare the appropriate word each day.
3. Let Your Discipline Show Them the Mercy and Grace of God
“A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.” Proverbs 22:15 NLT
Gospel living requires obedience and discipline. Nothing reveals our sin nature as human beings more than a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. My little girl would lay flat on the ground, stiff as a board, in protest. In the cereal aisle, the middle of the road at the water’s edge of our street, the kitchen floor …wherever life didn’t go the way she wanted it to, she surrendered to the bent we all carry to stubbornly stick our feet in and demand our way.
But God’s way always trumps ours, and children learn this through the faithful discipline of their parents. Leading them to the wiser option in their lives teaches them to look beyond themselves to solve their problems. Our gut reactions shouldn’t be our guide, nor our whimsical and undependable feelings.
What Obedient Discipline Teaches Our Preschoolers
Proverbs 13:24 says, “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” (NLT) It’s not easy to say “No” to our children, especially when their faces contort and their hearts are crushed over the way we put the box of sugary cereal back on the store shelf with a resounding decline to their request. But we’re doing them no good not to teach them to cope gracefully when things don’t go their way, just or not. The grand scope of discipline is to teach them to trust in their heavenly Father, who cares for them better than we, or they, ever could. When we obediently discipline our children, life leaves room for compassionate moments to treat them when they don’t deserve it …a message that will trump all of the “no’s” in their little lives. Knowing they are always forgiven and never loved less is a crucial component of godly wisdom.
Remember: You Won’t See the Fruit of Your Work Right Away
Read devotionals written for small children with them. Take them to church faithfully. Pray with them daily. Apply simple truths about love, forgiveness and sharing to everyday situations on their level. These simple habits may seem time consuming and hard to establish, but once they become habit the good fruit becomes evident.
I notice a difference in our family life between seasons when we make time to serve at church, and busy times when we don’t walk through the doors for weeks. God promises when we seek Him wholeheartedly we will find Him. It’s not about what we do, it’s showing up … our relationship with Him opens the flow of Peace fully in our lives, and those of our children.
Why Sharing the Gospel with Our Children Must Start in Preschool
Most of us don’t remember much about our lives pre-K. But a foundation was laid in those early years that undoubtedly had an affect on who we’ve become today. Young children haven’t developed a sophisticated way of communicating yet, but they are perceptive enough to feel loved unconditionally. That is the main goal of teaching the gospel to our young children. Bank prayers, right from the start, knowing full well God hears us and will answer us according to His will.
Remember our children are first and foremost His precious creations, with a purpose for His Kingdom all their own. Relinquish control, knowing full well we have a great responsibility to our children to guide them to His feet, but it doesn’t solely rest in our hands and will never trump God’s sovereignty. Speak life, and live the truth. Give anxieties to God, faithfully. In parenting, there will be many to lift into His capable hands.
Meg Bucher writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. She stepped out of her comfort zone, and her Marketing career, to obey God’s call to stay home and be “Mom” in 2011. From that step of obedience her blog, Sunny&80, was born, a way to retain the funny everyday moments of motherhood. Meg is also a freelance writer and author of “Friends with Everyone.” She loves teaching God’s Word and leading her Monday morning Bible study, being a mom, distance running and photography. Meg resides in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and Godlen-Doodle … all avid Cleveland Browns fans.