Answering children's questions about God

Steve Hutchinson offers his experience and expertise.

Children love to ask questions about almost anything. They ask ‘Why? What? Who? How?’ very often. It’s only natural for children, and is part of their trying to make sense of their world.

Principles

These notes deal primarily with 'God, Jesus and the Bible' questions, although the principles apply generally. I think there are two stages in answering children's questions:

  1. Find an answer that we understand and believe (the latter especially where faith questions are concerned).
  2. Work out how to say it so that the child can understand. This will depend on the child, but think about:
    • Words: simple, within their vocabulary.
    • Concepts: concrete, not abstract or beyond their experience. Children are literal thinkers.
    • Their world: take examples from school, home, TV, pets or friends to illustrate your answers.
    • Short answers: or risk losing their interest, their understanding, or both.

If you are not sure what they are asking (or you need time to think ), ask them what they mean, or some other question that makes them say their question in another way. If you are with a group of children, sometimes it is good to let other children say what they think (they will probably tell you anyway).

If you don't know the answer or can't explain it, say that you'll have to look it up, or ask a friend to help. Be sure to write the question down, and don't forget, or you'll be like the person one child wrote to me about...

Dear Steve, Who made God? I have asked the minister at the Baptist Church and he does not know.’

I try to come up with a verse from the Bible to answer the questions. In this way I hope to encourage children to look to the Bible for answers to deep questions of life (2 Timothy 3:14–17).

Questions

Children have asked me all the questions here. I have been involved in running Bible-based activities for years. As part of this, I have visited schools for assemblies and RE. I have led circle question times, when a class of children may ask any questions about God, Jesus or the Bible. My answers here are generally suitable for children aged 7 to 11 years old.

Steve Hutchinson is a Scripture Union Development Worker in the UK, and describes himself like this: ‘I love God and I love children, and I am so grateful that my work with Scripture Union allows me to combine these two.  In particular I long that more people will help children to meet God and become friends with Jesus.  So I work to help people develop all kinds of outreach ministry to children and their families.’

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