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.
If you’re like me, there are some topics I love talking about with the children in my ministry. I love seeing a child’s face light up when we talk about the love of God for the first time. It brings me great joy to unpack the parables of Jesus and see kids interact with the truth of the Gospel. Some things are just fun and rewarding to teach!
I have to be honest, when I make a list of my favourite topics to teach on in kids’ ministry, the Trinity isn’t one of them. The Trinity is mysterious, complex and hard to understand (or explain!) – none of which are usually words I like to use when I’m describing my teaching for a Sunday morning.
However, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we should stay away from it. In fact, I believe that tackling difficult topics in children’s ministry is vital for this generation. Avoiding the things that can be hard to teach or understand doesn’t serve kids better. Instead, it sets them up for failure as they grow older and encounter tough questions – either from themselves or others. Wading through the mysteries of faith in our children’s ministries gives kids a stronger faith foundation and a deeper knowledge of who God truly is.
Knowing this, however, doesn’t make it any easier to teach! It may be motivating and inspiring, but it still leaves us with the struggle of how to break down topics like the Trinity in an age-appropriate way. Despite the challenges, I believe it is possible!
In order to teach the Trinity to kids, we must first have a grasp of the doctrine ourselves. While the word ‘Trinity’ is never mentioned explicitly in Scripture, the presence of a God who is three-in-one is clear all throughout the Bible’s great narrative.
As you prepare to teach on the Trinity, spend some time studying and meditating on verses that make mention of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This list is a great starting place! As you read through some of these verses, ask yourself – “what am I learning about the Trinity here? What can I use from these verses to teach the Trinity to the kids I minister to?”
As you study these Bible verses, you may find yourself looking for some other tools. I’m linking up some great resources at the bottom of this post that can help you dive deeper into your own study on the Trinity.
Once you feel you have a grasp on this topic (not a perfect one of course, as this concept is, even for the most scholarly among us, somewhat of a mystery), you can prepare to teach it to the kids in your care. Here are some tips:
- Use simple words to explain a complex topic. The word Trinity means “three-in-one.” This is a phrase that even the youngest of children can understand. In our children’s ministry, we made up a simple ‘rap’ (okay, the kids rapped, I made a fool of myself)- “Father, Spirit, Son, Three in One.” We repeated this over, and over (and over). While the words were simple, they were biblically accurate and allowed kids to get this truth into their hearts.
- Use caution when it comes to analogies! There are so analogies and object lessons that attempt to explain the Trinity in human terms. The reality is, no analogy can ever perfectly explain the mystery of the Trinity. However, there are some that do a much better job than others. While I am confident nobody desires to consciously teach a heresy, using some more popular illustrations (for example, the three forms of water, or the three parts of an egg) can create more confusion in the long run than benefit! Some of the more beneficial analogies I have found include the Trinity shield and the idea of three circles, both of which will be linked below.
- Use a variety of learning methods. This is important not just for the Trinity, but for all theological topics. Some kids simply just don’t learn sitting down in a chair. While teaching is important, be sure to introduce various ways for kids to learn about the Trinity. Use visuals, songs, videos, experiments, and whatever else you can find to help kids grasp this truth!
Teaching on the Trinity is no easy task, but it is certainly a worthwhile one. Helping kids comprehend such a significant part of our faith is vital – and I believe you’re up to the task!
Resources for Leaders
- “God” Video from the Bible Project
- “The Trinity & God’s Identity” Bible Project Podcast
- Zondervan Academic – “Is the Trinity in the Bible?”
Resources for Teaching Kids
- “The Trinity Shield” (a great visual!)
- “What is the Trinity?” Video – What’s in the Bible?
- “The Trinity Song” (full disclosure, slightly annoying but gets the point across)
- “The Trinity Coloring Sheet” – What’s in the Bible?
- Mystery Manor – Week 2 Lesson (This free lesson from KidSpring offers so many great activities and explanations of the Trinity. We used it this fall!)
- “Explaining Trinity to Kids” – Sam Luce at churchleaders.com
- Teaching Trinity Booklet (You may need to filter through some of the ideas here, but there are a lot of great ones)