Should we teach kids about sin?

As part of my job, I am involved in a couple of Kids Ministry groups on Facebook. The conversations I see are fascinating. Usually they’re about best practices for discipling kids, occasionally folks are looking for different curriculum options… and then every so often there’s a question about what we should and shouldn’t be teaching kids.

Are sin too big for kids? Do we really need to teach them this or that story?

These are good questions, important questions. While some may disagree, it should be no surprise that I will say yes to each.

Yes, we need to teach kids about sin. We need to because they already know about it. They’ve experienced it in some way, but they should know how and why sin is in the world, what God has done to solve the problem of sin. So we teach them about sin to give them context and understanding of the world they live in.

And yes, that also means there aren’t really any stories from the Bible that are off-limits. You can (and should) teach kids about the nastier bits of Scripture, especially when it comes to the people we tend to portray as heroes (Abraham, Jacob, the Judges, David…). We don’t need to expose them to situations way too mature for them, of course, but in an age appropriate way, we should be helping kids see that the heroes of the Bible are people who needed God’s grace and forgiveness just like we do. That God was gracious to them, just as he is gracious to us. If all Scripture is inspired and profitable, then it’s inspired and profitable for all ages. Our responsibility is to teach it faithfully at an age-appropriate level (e.g., we don’t need to talk about adultery necessarily, but we do need to talk about David sinning).

Ultimately, we want kids to see that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That Jesus’ goodness and righteousness is what we need to be in relationship with God. That Jesus is the one who paid for our sins. And Jesus is the one who we will spend eternity with by faith.

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