Let Each Generation Tell by Rob Haynes
“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.” Psalm 145:4
I became a Christian in my twenties. I was attending a large-membership church at that time, and I was recruited to help as a teacher’s assistant with the children’s Vacation Bible School that summer. I was intimidated by the idea of leading children. In the nearly thirty years since then, I have heard that same hesitation among people of various ages and Christian maturity. Yet, sharing with children can be easier than you think. First, let’s look at some Scriptural direction and the Wesleyan history of faith-sharing with children. We will then look at an idea on how you can tell the Good News of Jesus to children with a few simple items.
In Deuteronomy 4:9 Moses commands the people to remember the instructions of the Lord and tells them to pass it on to their children and grandchildren. This instruction still applies to us today and should provide encouragement for us to share and show the love of Jesus to God’s children of all ages.
Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations includes people of all ages. It is not just limited to adults, or even teens, but also includes children. The Scriptures are clear that children need the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers. This is seen, among other places, in Matthew 19 when Jesus welcomes the children into his teaching ministry and tells the disciples that they should follow his example.
John Wesley understood the vital role that ministry to children has in the mission of the Kingdom of God. He demonstrated this in his work to start schools, like the Kingswood School. He instructed the leaders of the Methodist revival to teach the children and show others the importance of ministry to children. When some protested (like I did early on) and said they did not feel like they were gifted to teach children, his response was to “pray earnestly for the gift and use the means for it.” He went on to tell them to reach out to children and their parents alike, to teach them on every occasion, and give parents the tools to raise their children in the wisdom and admonishment of the Lord.
Long before modern researchers told us that most children set their religious preferences by age twelve, Mr. Wesley was telling Methodist leaders the same thing. He understood that instructing children at this critical age was vital to the ministry. He affirmed Martin Luther’s assertion that a revival never lasts longer than one generation.
Sharing the story of salvation can begin with something simple like a Wordless Book that you can make on your own. Each page of the book is a solid color with no written words. Arrange colored paper in the following order and tell the Gospel story using these colors as a guide.
- GOLD is for God’s perfection—God created the Heavens and the Earth in perfect love and grace. God wants us to be with him and in constant relationship with him. When God created the Garden in perfection, he warned Adam and Eve not to do things that would hurt themselves and others.
- BLACK is the mark of sin—Because of the things we do that break God’s laws, our relationship with God is broken. It needs fixing. There are things that we do that separate us from God, others, and ourselves. The Bible calls these “sins”. All of us have sinned, and our hearts need to be made clean. We cannot make our own hearts clean; only God can do that.
- RED represents Jesus’ sacrifice—The Bible tells us that there is punishment for sin. Jesus, God’s One and Only Son, took the punishment for our sins so that we would not have to face the punishment we deserve. Instead of us being punished for our sins, Jesus died on the cross so that all the wrong things we have done can be forgiven.
- WHITE is the purity that Jesus offers—This means that our hearts can be made clean. Jesus does not force this on us, but we must ask God to forgive us. When we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and invite him into our hearts to turn away from sin, he will wash us as white as snow.
- GREEN is for growth—The Bible says that we should continue to learn to love Jesus more deeply every day and share his love with others. We are to read God’s Word, pray, worship, serve, and obey for the rest of our lives.
- GOLD is for eternal life—Scripture tells us that Heaven is very real and that we can work with God to bring God’s Kingdom on Earth. It also tells us that Jesus has made a heavenly home for all who love and serve him. This is open to everyone.
This is only a starting point to begin a discussion with the children. It can also be adapted in any number of ways; for example, you can make bracelets with children that contain beads of each color. As the children wear the bracelets, they can be reminded of the story of salvation. By using this simple color pattern, the book can be adapted to any language and in a variety of cultures.
I encourage you to put together a wordless storybook or bracelet with some children in your life. Maybe they are children you have met in your neighborhood, your church community, or the local park. Pray that God would open your eyes to those who need to hear it. Then let yourself be used to tell the children of God’s mighty acts as you proclaim his power.