God’s Power Tools – #4

“Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together during church services. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had enough. 'You're not supposed to talk out loud in church.' 'Why? Who's going to stop me?' Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, 'See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers.'”

Our fourth power tool is the use of language and culture. Children have limited vocabulary and skewed ideas of the culture around them.  Sadly, many parents and teachers often miscommunicate, in particular when working with small children.

A little girl is drawing a picture in church of a happy little bear with crossed eyes. After church the mother asks about the picture.  She says, “It is Gladly, from the song they sang in church.”  The mother asks, “What song?” She replies, “Oh you remember, Gladly, the cross eyed bear.”

What does a child imagine when you tell them that Jesus will clean away sin by washing us with His blood?  What do they hear when we tell them that Jesus will come and live in their heart if they will just ask Him? Make your statement of truth, then ask them a question to find out what they heard. “Do you think Jesus has a big sponge that He will dip in His blood and wash us with?” Does Jesus want to live in this heart that pumps blood?

The work of world missions involves learning the language and knowing how much culture you must assimilate in order to reach your target people group. This is true in reaching children as well. Jesus commanded in Mark 10:13-14 (Net Bible)  . . . “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

When teaching children we need to keep it simple and define our word pictures. Anticipate their questions by asking them questions to reveal what they think you are saying. With questions and answers you can make sure that your class hears the truth you want to teach. Jesus entered our world as one of us. Be willing to do the same, for the children's sake, as you work through your lessons.


Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."