Julia Ball is the wife to Andrew, mom to Levi and pastor to a group of amazing kids! She currently serves on staff as the Children’s & Families Pastor at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Clarenville, NL, Canada. She’s passionate about seeing all generations – but especially kids and their families – grow to understand the Gospel more and love Jesus more deeply.
I always get excited when I can teach kids about the reality of the Holy Spirit! While beliefs about the Holy Spirit – His role in our world and the church today, the gifts of the Spirit, and how He impacts our lives today – varies amongst Christians, there is one essential truth that I believe we must teach kids today. That is this:
The Holy Spirit is active in our lives.
Kids understanding this truth about the Holy Spirit helps them realize that God isn’t just an abstract character somewhere up in heaven. He isn’t just confined to history and the Bible. God, through the Holy Spirit, is at work in the world today! He is present in our lives, and when kids realize that, it makes faith become real and alive.
So how do we explain this? What do they need to know? Here are some thoughts, regardless of what theological camp you fall in:
1. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us when we choose to live for Jesus.
For me, this is key. So often, with children, we use the language of “Jesus living in your heart.” While I understand the premise behind this language, and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with it per say – I do believe there’s a more accurate way to describe to kids what happens at salvation.
When kids decide to live for Jesus, He becomes Lord of their lives. The Holy Spirit – God’s Spirit – comes to live inside of them – not Jesus. Ephesians 1:13 (NLT) sums this up well:
“And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”
It is the Holy Spirit that comes to live in us at salvation! I think this is an important truth for kids to understand. It does away with the confusion of questions like: “How does Jesus fit in my heart?”or “How can Jesus be in my heart and yours and in heaven?”
It also presents kids with biblically accurate language. When kids are taught language that’s true to the Bible from a young age, I believe it helps them deal with doubt as they grow. If what they’ve been taught is “nowhere to be found” in the Bible – or an “invented phrase”, it can be confusing and detrimental to faith. When the language they’ve heard since childhood is in the Bible, it helps confirm their beliefs & gives them a solid foundation to stand on.
2. The Holy Spirit helps us live out our faith in everyday life.
When kids understand that it’s the Holy Spirit that lives inside of them, they can also understand that the Holy Spirit can help them follow Jesus! The Bible gives tons of examples of this, but here are just a few:
- The Holy Spirit helps us know how to pray (Romans 8:26).
- The Holy Spirit teaches us God’s truth (John 14:15-17).
- The Holy Spirit helps us know what’s right & wrong (John 16:8).
- The Holy Spirit gives us power (Acts 1:8).
- The Holy Spirit grows fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength to live for God and put “feet to our faith.” Without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, our actions are simply futile! We may be able to do a few good things – but it’s the Holy Spirit that truly gives us the power, ability and growth!
Study these verses with your kids, and have conversations about them. Allow them to ask questions, and challenge them look for opportunities to ask the Holy Spirit to help them in these areas. As you practice being on the look-out for what the Holy Spirit is doing as a family, I bet you’ll see Him at work in areas you neglected to notice in the past!
I believe that kids understanding these truths will change the way they see their faith. The accounts of what the Holy Spirit did in the lives of those who followed Jesus in the New Testament are incredible! They spoke in other languages, witnessed in front of crowds, stood boldly on trial, performed miracles, preached powerfully, and lived lives that bore witness to Jesus. This wasn’t because of their great spirituality, but because they had a vibrant connection to the Holy Spirit.
I’m a firm believer that the same is possible for us, and for our children. But it is only possible when they know the truth about who the Holy Spirit is, and what He can do in our lives. Kids are not too young to learn about the Spirit! In fact, I believe their soft hearts make them prime candidates to study the Word, ask God for the Spirit’s help, and actually notice when He’s at work!
So my challenge to you this week: start some conversations with the kids you lead (whether at home or in church) about the Holy Spirit. Here is one simple, but powerful method:
- Read through some of the verses I mentioned, and other passages in Scripture. A quick search of your Bible app or a concordance will reveal tons of stories and verses that mention the Holy Spirit.
- Get your kids to tell you what they think these passages mean, and discuss together.
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in your life, and the lives of your kids.
Then pay attention. You’ll be amazed at how and what you see Him do!
As always, I’m sharing some of my favourite resources on the Holy Spirit for kids! Some of these are more generic, while others are specifically Pentecostal. Whatever your church background, I hope you’re able to find something here that’s useful to you as you talk about the Holy Spirit with your kids:
- “How to Teach Your Kids About the Holy Spirit” | Gather & Grow Blog
- “God’s Wonderful Gift” | The Bible App for Kids (Video, colouring sheets, etc.)
- “Come Holy Spirit: Fizzy Prayers Activity” | Flame Children’s Ministry (We had a blast doing this with our older elementary kids a while ago!)
- “Holy Spirit POWER Experiment” | Children’s Ministry Magazine
- “Holy Spirit” | The Bible Project (Great for older kids + teens)
- “What is Pentecost?” | What’s in the Bible?
- “Learn about the Holy Spirit Worksheet”| Ministry-to-Children
- “Fruit of the Spirit Church Takeout Box” |Deeper Kidmin
An original version of this post appeared at www.ministrymom.ca