5 Things Kids Must Know About Sin (#4 What Are the Consquences of Sin?)
This five part series expands on my answer to the question from Children’s Ministry Think Tank #5 on the Ministry-to-Children.com website. In my response to the question:
“How do you teach the doctrine of sin to children without harming their self-esteem? Especially with preschool children, how explicitly do you teach them about their own depravity? How do parents in your ministry respond to these issues?”
I noted five areas I believe children must be taught about sin in order to fully understand the concept. Those were:
- What is sin?
- Where does it come from?
- Who sins?
- What are the consequences of sin?
- What is the solution for sin?
In this installment, we will look teaching kids the answer to the question “What Are The Consequences of Sin?”
What are the consequences of sin?
The topic of teaching the consequences of sin (e.g., hell) is controversial, and has been discussed in the Children’s Ministry Think Tank forum before. Think Tank #4 asked the question:
“How should children’s ministry offer an urgent Gospel invitation without emotionally manipulating children? When does child evangelism cross the line and become abuse? What principles guide you in this area?”
The responses and comments on that question partially addressed this issue of how and how much to teach kids about hell.
The Bible is clear the God hates sin, and kids should understand that. God does not kind of dislike sin. God is not just irritated by sin. God hates sin! Hate is a strong word, and it is the right word to describe God’s reaction to sin. Kids should understand that Gods is perfect and without sin. He has never sinned, and he is so pure that he cannot live with people and be in relationships with people who do sin. I don’t think it hurts to explain to kids (even at a really young age) that this is called God’s Holiness. It is an important concept for kids to grasp, and it is woefully neglected in an era where kids are taught exclusively that God wants to be their friend. That is absolutely true, but there is another part of God who absolutely cannot be friends with sin.
Once children grasp that God cannot tolerate sin, they have to understand that God has created a place for people who sin and continue in their sin. That is a place where people who reject God will live forever without God. The goal in teaching kids about sin and hell is not to scare them into accepting Jesus Christ. However, in order to understand their need for Jesus, they must understand the consequences of sin. In my comments on the question for Think Tank #4, I wrote the following about teaching kids about the rewards of heaven and the punishment of hell:
“…there is definitely a fine line to be walked there. I want a child to understand the penalty for sin and want him to desire the rewards of heaven, but I don’t want to use fear or greed to try to usher them into the kingdom. There is, after all, no fear in love.”