“Everyday is Gospel Day”

41YDWctSBDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I recently came across the book Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower. The subtitle is Teaching the Gospel to Kids. I love learning new techniques for teaching kids, so I was pretty intrigued.

Jack’s basic premise is that every message and every lesson has to connect kids to Jesus. It sounds pretty basic and it’s certainly a goal of every children’s pastor that I’ve met, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. As I started reading, I found myself thinking, “Yes, I want my kids to know about Jesus. I teach them about Jesus.” But as I continued on, I realized that I’ve been guilty of teaching moral and behavioral lessons more often than I thought.

Jack shares many personal stories, both good and bad, from his years of teaching in children’s and pre-teen ministry. One of my favorites was from chapter 3 entitled: The “Gospel Day” Trap. He tells of a time of a snowy Sunday morning that kept many of the families from attending church. One of the co-teachers of the ministry was experiencing a crisis. Only one child had shown up and it was the day she had prepared to share the Gospel. Now she didn’t know what to do. How could she share the Gospel with only one child when she had planned on having an entire class full? He explains that “the gospel-day trap happens when we think of the good news as very important-critical to salvation!-but as something that only some kids need to hear some of the time.” Have you ever found yourself with the pressure of presenting the gospel when there are a smaller number of children present than normal? Or when there are no visitors that day? Jack suggests an approach that makes such a day unnecessary by weaving the good news into EVERY lesson.

The Bible is God’s word to us, we can all agree on that. However, great pain must be taken to make Jesus the center of the Bible in our teaching to children! How often have you told the story of David and Goliath, making David out to be the hero in the end? An example worthy of following? I have made this mistake in years past; making the end point out to “be like David and have a heart for God.” That’s in the Bible! It sounds good! But it’s not the gospel. David was a person just like us, he needed salvation. He isn’t the person we want to teach kids to emulate. How can David be a hero in this story and then someone who killed a man so that he could have that man’s wife as his own a few stories later? Instead of finding something worthy to follow in David, we need to ask, “How do you see Jesus in the story of David and Goliath?” I recently was able to teach this story from a different perspective, asking my children, where do you see Jesus here? Rather than focusing on David’s great work of killing Goliath, we made the connection that Jesus is the one who conquers our enemies, not us. We are not like David in this story, we are like the Israelite soldiers who are scared of Goliath’s taunting and are in need of a Savior! This conclusion is the difference in teaching the gospel to children versus teaching moralistic examples of desired behavior.

Show Them Jesus has revolutionized my teaching. It has reminded me that my ultimate goal as a children’s pastor and teacher is to build love for God, not just better behavior in my kids. If you’ve ever found yourself in a “gospel-day trap” or teaching children to follow the example of someone in the Bible besides Jesus, this book will give you great insights on making a connection to Jesus. Yes, even in the Old Testament. It has challenged me to go deeper in my lesson planning and intentionally find legitimate connections to Christ so that every day is a gospel-message day. It is a book that I’ll give to my teaching team and keep my copy close by my desk.

Taryn Cleaves

Children’s Pastor

New Hope Community Church

Brentwood, Tennessee