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Sharing God's love with children

Perhaps it is symptomatic of the age of mass-produced resources? Or maybe we have just become lazy? But the truth is that most of us who work with children and families tend to settle for using the latest published programme or downloading a good idea from the web when we are looking for material to use. Time is short and this is quite frankly the simplest and quickest solution. However, if you did have the time to think about it beforehand, just what would be your ideal curriculum for the children you work with? Which key Bible stories would you include, and what exactly would be the heart of the Christian faith that you would want to share with the next generation?

We don't have our children for long - it is therefore all the more important that we reflect a little on what we share with them. How can we pass on something that will last, go deep and stay with them, rather than simply try to fill them up with as much, and as quickly, as possible? As the old adage says, less can often be more, but what is the bare minimum that you would want to make sure you passed on to your children and your children’s children? And how will you help them to explore this?

With this challenge in our hearts and minds, here is an outline that may be of help. Unsurprisingly, it starts with the truth that God is love, and that we can receive and experience that love both as individuals and as communities. This love is also meant to be shared - to overflow and reach out both to those we know and those who are different from us. And God wants us to love not only others but ourselves, and of course to respond to his love by loving him too.

Framing a curriculum around God's love like this is foundational and opens up significant windows into exploring core values and key Bible stories that will help us all to understand this love better and better.

The following chart builds on this idea and introduces a possible Bible story from both the Old Testament and the New Testament that could unpack each of the nine truths of God's love, as outlined below. These nine truths need to be visited again and again, as they represent stages in faith development - the temptation is to link them with successive age groups but faith development is neither linear nor chronological. Children, young people and adults all need to explore each of these truths about God's love again and again. As such, this is a programme for two months, a year, a lifetime.

Each truth has key words and values associated with it, which you may find particularly helpful if working alongside your local school, who will recognise an approach to spirituality and faith exploration that uses such language.

There are also links within the chart to ideas for exploring the Bible stories suggested. However, it would be a good team-building exercise for your group to choose its own selection of Bible stories - children always know if you are sharing stories that really do matter to you or not.

Finally, when exploring God’s love together like this as Christians, we need to be clear that we come closest to that love most intimately in the life, death and continuing presence of Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit. This is probably the bare minimum we would want to pass on to our children, so that they may be rooted and grounded in love and grow into a faith that will last.

Nine truths of God's love

  1. God is love - and all life comes as a gift from God
  2. God loves each one of us individually - I am special
  3. God loves each of us corporately - we are special
  4. God loves others - other people are special too
  5. God loves those who are very different from me/us - God welcomes everybody
  6. God wants us to love ourselves - I am of worth and wanted
  7. God wants us to love others - anybody/everybody is my/our neighbour
  8. God wants us to love his world - we are here to look after his gift
  9. God wants us to love him - for in loving God we discover our true self

Truth New Testament stories You and me Old Testament stories Key words and values
God is love

Christmas, Easter

All life comes as a gift from God Creation

Thank you

Thankfulness

God loves each of us individually Jesus heals the leper I am special Psalm 23

Me

Individuality

God loves each of us corporately Jesus chooses his disciples We are special Moses and the passover

Us

Family/Community

God loves others Jesus feeds the 5000 Other people are special Psalm 146 Others
God loves those who are very different from me/us Jesus welcomes Zacchaeus God welcomes everybody Jonah's story

Everybody

Difference/Inclusivity

God wants us to love ourselves Jesus teaches about the birds of the air and the hairs on our head I am of worth and wanted Psalm 139

Gifts

Self-worth

God wants us to love others Jesus tells the story of the good samaritan Anybody/Everybody is our neighbour Leviticus 19

Sharing

Compasssion

God wants us to love his world Jesus gives us the Beatitudes We are here to look after his gift Psalm 8, The ten commandments

Responsibility

World

God wants us to love him The Lord's Prayer Loving God we discover our true self Deuteronomy 6

Joy

Fulfilment