Talking to Children About Easter
He is risen! Someone greeted me with this phrase a few years ago on Easter Sunday. I looked at them and replied, ya! The room got awkward for a second as we shook hands and went on our way. I had the sinking feeling like I did something wrong or had let this person down. For the record, "ya" is not the appropriate response to this sort of Easter greeting. I learned that the correct response is he is risen indeed! The (!) is important because you are supposed to be enthusiastic in your reply.
I grew up in the church and had avoided this bit of church culture into my mid-twenties. I considered myself fluent in church-speak but learned that day there was still much to learn. Today I am careful not to use to much insider lingo when talking about Jesus. There are many reasons for this but the main one is because I speak to kids. They have not yet acquired the theological vernacular which accompanies years of church life.
Two thoughts as you prepare to walk kids through the Easter story this week:
- Avoid using theological terms when teaching kids.
- Dont neglect to teach children the meaning of theological terms.
You can accomplish these two ideas if you are intentional about it. Your first priority should be to teach the stories of the Bible. Read the Bible out loud to kids; read a translation that they can understand. The word of God is alive so do us all a favor and read the Bible like it is exciting! The plot is important so help kids connect the dots. Theological terms help kids put words the meaning behind the stories. Teaching a child the meaning of sanctification is important. Teaching a child the word sanctification is also important... once they understand the meaning.
I could go on abou this but I imagine that you get the point. It is not a chicken / egg dilema. Meaning should come before vocabulary. Here are three example phrases that you may take for granted... try not to lead with these on Easter Sunday.
- Resurrection - an easter staple but is meaningless to a young elementary student. Use a phrase like "comes back to life" instead.
- Conquer - as in conquered death. Tell kids that Jesus beat death, that he won!
- Sacrifice - dont leave this word hanging out there. If you are going for an Old Testament tie in (which you should) them unpack the idea of an animal sacrifice first.
There are many phrases we could reference here. Remember that these words are important for children to learn as they develop as Christians. But the meaning behind the words should take precedence in your teaching. Have a good easter and remember, he is risen indeed!