The Importance of Gospel-Centered Teaching in Children's Ministry
Ed Stetzer: Why is a gospel-centered, more theological curriculum higher on the shelf for you?
Karen Dolan (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City, NY): I would say that I am of the opinion that if we are not teaching a Christ-centered, theologically sound curriculum for our kids, we’re doing them a disservice.
If we’re watering down what the gospel is and what it means to know Christ and to be a follower of Him, we’re not teaching these kids enough. And then, that’s not going to be enough when they get out into the world and are challenged by the world.
So, I think, that to get them at a young age and to give them very doctrinally-sound teaching is going to give them a true image of who Christ is and that’s going to, hopefully, be easier for them as they get older and make their relationship with Christ their own.
Lou Cha (Kenwood Baptist Church, Cincinnati, OH): Christianity is all about Christ.
The Old Testament points to Christ. The New Testament is a revelation of Christ.
So if Christ is not at the center of what we’re teaching and Christ is not the person that we’re drawing kids to, then we’ve totally missed the point of what it means to be a Christian and to be the body of Christ.
So the gospel has to be center and we just need to be more intentional about that in making Christ the center of our life, our teaching, and the life of our homes and our church.
Kate Neighbors (Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA): I think by teaching the absolute truth of the Bible in the entirety our church strives, we want to train the next generation of Christians and equip them to go out into the world whether it be middle school, high school, college, adulthood, or whatever it is.
We want to equip them to go out into the world and to be Christ.
Kathie Phillips (Central Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD): My goal is to not give the children a faith that they would have to come back to, but a relationship that would keep them connected to him their whole life.
So much so that it’s more focused on a relationship than it is about good thoughts or morality or things that just focus on the relationship. We want Jesus to become someone that they would walk with for the entirety of their life.
Ned Gable (12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, GA): A lot of curricula I've used in the past are fun, creative, and simple. All of that stuff is true. But I have found myself, so many times, trying to come back in and prop up the biblical truth underneath all the fun and the creativity and everything else.
I just got to a point where I was sick of doing that. You’re going to wrestle with something in a lesson and what we decided is we would rather take something that teaches the Bible with integrity and hits the hard stuff. I would rather wrestle with helping kids understand a difficult concept that comes straight from the Bible than from helping them trying to back track a Bible story that’s been made modern and explain that Paul didn’t have a cell phone.
I’d rather spend the time helping them understand the truth and wrestle through that than wrestle backwards to help them see the truth through the creativity.
Sam Luce (Redeemer Church, Utica, NY): One of the things that I always tell our teachers and remind them of often is that we want to give kids a faith that they can grow into, not a faith that they can grow out of. I think that you either have one of the two options. That’s why I think, for us, a more theologically robust curriculum is important because it’s something that our kids can grow into rather than something they’ll grow out of.
One of the things that I always think of too is something Tim Keller said: we either paint a picture to our kids that makes Jesus useful or beautiful. And one of the things I think is that, when you have a robust understanding and big view of Christ, you’ll see Christ as beautiful not as just "useful." So, for us, that’s why we care about gospel-centered teaching.