By Wendy Berghane
My very favorite time of year in children’s ministry has always been Easter. I love sharing the Easter story. I love sharing the truth that death does not win in young hearts. How I delight in conversations that take place surrounding the cross and how sin is forgiven and buried. The story of the resurrection has always been so exciting for me to share.
Just as much as I looked forward each year to sharing the story of Jesus’ resurrection, I equally dreaded trying to explain Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. How on earth was I going to articulate such an abstract idea to these little concrete thinking minds? I found the task so very intimidating.
A few years ago, I was lamenting about the upcoming lesson of Pentecost to a friend. Completely unsure of what words to use, I began a deep dive with her into everything I knew about the Holy Spirit. I started rambling on about the Trinity, how I didn’t want to use the word “ghost” because of the image that conjures up in young minds. My head was spinning and my words in this one-sided conversation were equally all over the place. My friend stopped me and gave me such an important reminder that day “It’s not your job to be a teacher of theology with these kids, but simply to plant the seed and let the Holy Spirit do the work.” That advice freed me. Freed me to just spell it out and trust that the Holy Spirit would grow the seed in his own time and in his own way. With renewed confidence, I went into the chapel service and simply told my young friends about the amazing gift God gave us in the Holy Spirit.
Over the next couple of years, I fine-tuned my introduction of the Holy Spirit for children to two main points:
John chapter 14 tells us that before Jesus was crucified, the disciples were upset thinking about life without him. They were worried about being alone. But Jesus reassured them he would never leave them. The disciples were given the promise that he would be with them through the Holy Spirit just like God sent himself down through the person of Jesus. This is a foundational teaching for children—the Holy Spirit, who is of God, will be with us and will never leave us alone.
Jesus also helps us understand who the Holy Spirit is in John 14 by referring to him as a teacher and the Helper.
The Holy Spirit was given to us so we can know God. When we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us, we can better work toward living a life that glorifies God. And when we aren’t sure what to do, we can call on the Holy Spirit to intercede for us in our prayers and guide our thoughts and decisions. Children understand what teaching and helping are all about and introducing the Holy Spirit as our teacher and helper is an important foundational piece in helping them begin to form a relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit is complex. But it’s far from an impossible teaching. Sometimes we forget that children often have a radically different approach to the Gospel than adults as they aren’t out to question or disprove what they hear but rather are eager to hear and believe! Take the opportunity to plant the seeds. Take the great honor to introduce these little hearts to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Use the language, pray with the kids that the Holy Spirit be present at the beginning of your Sunday School hour or Children’s Church. And then take my friend’s advice and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Hearts Alive Sunday School and Children's Church provide liturgical congregations a highly-anticipated children’s curriculum that combines captivating content, lectionary alignment, and Gospel focus for children ages 3-12. For those seeking to engage children in a fun, age-appropriate application to the Revised Common Lectionary, Hearts Alive is a three-year course of study to give children a strong overview of the story of salvation and how it ties to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hearts Alive supports and elevates liturgical traditions and the church calendar while using clear, contemporary learning techniques to present the Word of God. Learn more in our online community.
Comments will be approved before showing up.