Jack Klumpenhower’s recent book, Show Them Jesus, deals with the tough questions that keep children’s ministry leaders up at night. Today, I’ve asked Jack one of those tough questions:
Jared: The Bible is not a G-rated book. Can you give us some pointers for how to approach the sex and violence in the Bible when teaching kids?
Jack: I seldom shy away from sex and violence. Even younger kids understand fighting and killing and that it’s bad to hurt others, so I include it if it’s part of a Bible story—because it’s important to be true to the story.
Kids also understand adultery if you explain it something like, “They behaved with each other like they were married even though they weren’t married.” That’s all the detail necessary for kids to understand that it’s a betrayal and is wrong. The only topic I usually avoid is sexual violence. Most young kids don’t have a place for that in their thinking, and I feel it’s fine to let them stay innocent until they’re older. Not every Bible passage is well-suited for the youngest kids.
The overwhelming majority of Bible stories are good for them, though, even if those stories include violence and evil. It’s important for kids to know, from a young age, that God is at work even when life is brutal and sad. In fact, this is why Jesus came to save us. If every kid’s first exposure to murder, for instance, were in a Bible story where they also heard how Jesus entered into the evil and suffering of this world in order bring healing, that would go a long way toward producing kids who’re well prepared spiritually for whatever they may face in life.
Throughout this month, I’ve been interviewing Jack Klumpenhower about teaching children Be sure to read the earlier posts and check out Jack’s blog, jackklumpenhower.com. The last installment of this interview will post on Monday.