I am often struck by the vast spans between what God says is important and what we are naturally inclined to think is important. Strength? Eh, it's really weakness where He shines through. Fame? Eh, it's really the meek and humble that matter. Educated, learned, successful adults? Eh, it's actually the little children that Jesus calls close.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
I love that we have a God who cares about children. He sees them; calls them by name; knows their every need and desire. He even cares that we adults learn from them.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
Our church happens to be incredibly loving towards children. In 6 years of sitting in the pew every Sunday with loud, wiggly, distracting, often naughty little children, I've not once had a single person give a negative reaction. Quite the contrary, our people are quick to volunteer to sit with me, smile and wave at my children, and encourage me to hang in there when I'm clearly frazzled. They love children!
I have been repeatedly drawn to the fact that God cares about these sweeties, and I can and should too. It may be hip and cool to work with high school youth. College ministry will likely gain more status. People may not be scrambling to volunteer in the nursery or 3-6 year old Sunday School class. But showing children Jesus at this age may be some of the most important faith formation and foundation we can give them.
Giving children God's word at the youngest of ages is one of the best gifts we can give. They may not be able to grasp long passages from the old King James, but they can understand simple verses:
"(Nothing) can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
We can introduce our children and Sunday School children to God's word in a way that is meaningful, joyful, and makes it come alive. They can hide God's truth in their hearts before the difficulties of life harden them to it.
God's Word...in THEIR Language
So how do you give them God's word in a way that they really get it? Don't communicate it how you would to adults, college students, or even high schoolers. Give it to them in the language of young children.
1. Sing it to them. Let them hear a single Bible verse sung with a simple, beautiful melody again and again. They will not only remember it better, they'll love it more when it's sung.
2. Let them move it. When they're little, they love to move. Show them sign language that goes with the verse. Let them march the beat while they hear it.
3. Let them play it. An instrument makes anything more enjoyable. While they're hearing or singing God's word, let them try a maraca, drum, or kazoo to add enjoyment.
4. Let them hum or sing along. When they've heard it enough times, they're nearly guaranteed to want to join in the fun. Encourage them to sing, speak, or hum the Bible verse themselves!
5. Let them draw it. Depending on their age, they may love making artwork out of the words or meanings of the words. Seeing the visual that they have created will help them remember the verse for much longer, too.