How Do You Teach Abstract Knowledge to Kids?

I love thinking of ways to explain things to kids that are difficult for even adults to understand. Kids are “concrete relational” – meaning, if they can’t see it, hear it, touch it, smell it, or taste it – it isn’t real.

So how do we teach abstract spiritual concepts like faith? Or reconciliation? Or the difference between justification and sanctification? Some would say we shouldn’t even be teaching these lofty concepts to children, but we must!

My first “boss,” was Pastor Erwin Lutzer the senior pastor at The Moody Church in Chicago. I have never forgotten the preaching advice he once gave me as a young rookie. “Karl, I like to preach in such a way that even adults can understand.” Have you ever noticed how much Jesus taught like a children’s pastor? He used people in the audience as volunteers, he used food, he did object lessons – in fact, I argue he was the first Gospel magician, only, He didn’t have to cheat! There was nothing up His sleeve when he did a miracle.

One of the challenges I faced as a young minister was how to help kids understand the incredible story of Christmas, and exactly what it meant that God became a man. The Incarnation! How on earth do you explain that to a child.

andyprojectI made the concept into something a child could relate to. I wrote a story of a young boy who wanted to save some ants from a construction project that would soon destroy their home. After several failed attempts he finally realized, the only way to save them, was to become one of them. It’s called Andy and the Ants.

It’s a wonderful and imaginative story that has been shared with countless children for over twenty years and now it’s available as a picture story book, beautifully illustrated by a Kidology member who asked if she could illustrate my story for me. Another member has told it every year at Christmas to over 700 kids for years earning her the nickname, “The Ant Story Lady.”

This Christmas, introduce your kids to Andy and the Ants and help them understand the amazing miracle of how God became a man in order to save us.

I look forward to hearing how your kids enjoyed the story!

Because Jesus Loves Children,

Pastor Karl Bastian

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One Comment:

  1. I have the book, embarrassed to say I have not read it to my kids yet and I’ve had it a few years. I am going to incorporate it this year. Thanks for the reminder!

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