Here’s my third post in “calling out” the terminology Children’s Pastors sometimes use when communicating to kids. Just so you know, I’m really not some self-righteous jerk making people feel bad. Every example I’ve written and plan to write, I’ve been guilty of saying at one time or another. Even writing these posts have caused me to even more carefully examine the words I use. We hold a valuable responsibility. We should steward it well.
Here’s another one that bothers me, probably more so because I’ve fumbled this one up with so many kids. It involves explaining how God speaks to us. Now, I don’t want to get into a spiritual debate due to differences in theological viewpoints, that’s not what this is really about. Feel free to disagree, but if we have a discussion, lets keep it to the point about not confusing kids pertaining to how we hear God’s voice.
Too many times when teaching kids how to hear God’s voice (outside what is written in the Bible), we tell kids that God probably won’t speak out loud, so we typically won’t hear what he has to say to us through our ears. Instead, we have to listen with our heart becasue that’s one of the ways he speaks to us, to our heart. You’ll know when he’s talking to you. Maybe I’m just the minority. These words have come out of my mouth before and I’ve heard them come from others. How confusing is this? As a Christian, fully indoctrinated in Christianeese, this makes sense to me or I can get the gist of it. But to a new believer or a child who sees the world through a literal viewpoint, this sounds kinda stupid.
I think we have we have to be very clear about what it looks like to hear God’s voice. Here’s just a sampling.
- God does want to talk to us and he does have something to say. It’s not usually a matter of whether he’s talking, but more a matter of if we’re listening.
- The Bible, God’s word, is his primary message to us. Those who seek his voice should probably spend more time with their nose in this book. God can and will speak to us outside the scripture, but it always comes back to the scripture. Does what God is saying to you line up with his word? If not, it was probably the pizza you ate last night. God will never contradict the scriptures.
- God will speak to us through others. This is why it’s so important to surround yourselves with godly company. It’s funny when people say, “I felt like the pastor had been reading my mail.” No, God’s been reading your mail! When I have difficult decisions to make, I listen to what Godly people are saying to me. When someone calls me out on crap I’ve been doing, I listen. Too many times someone has shared something with me either directly or indirectly and over several days or weeks, God’s used those words to create change in my heart.
- God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit. However, he’s not going to speak to your heart, your heart can’t hear anything silly. What this is going to look like is a thought is going to pop into your head. It could be something the Holy Spirit is saying to you. It could be your own thought. It might just be a good idea. However, it’s up to you to discern what is from God/Holy Spirit or what is from you. (1 Cor. 2:10-16)
I think that when teaching kids who to hear God’s voice, we should probably spend more time teaching kids how to be discerning as opposed to creative ways to hear the voice of God and the best way to be better at discerning is to spend time in God’s word and hiding it in our hearts.
Teaching kids how to heard God’s voice doesn’t have to be weird or mysterious. We can be honest and clear and as kids grow in their faith, knowledge and wisdom, they to will be able to discern what God is speaking to them!
Join the Daily Dispatch!
If you're a kidmin content junky... submit your name and email and you will get the following:
• Daily updates from the blog
• Weekly blog summaries with exclusive content
• Access to amazing resources
ALL DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
I feel like you have been reading my mail! Another great discussion starter.
I just want to add one more thing. Kids with godly parents can trust that God will speak to them through their parents, probably even more so than their pastor.
With thoughts popping into your head, I often encourage kids to share those thoughts with parents or pastors to help them know if it is God or pizza (sometimes they sound a lot alike). 🙂
That’s a really good point Jared. If parents are leading their kids spiritually, then they can truly help kids discern what God is saying.
Is there a book that you would recommend that speaks more to this? Leading kids spiritually, teaching them to hear from God, etc.?
Great series! One thing I’ve done is to ask the kids to call out ways that God can talk to us when I’ve been in small group settings. I’ve found that it opens up opportunities to have discussions with the kids.
Great post, especially the last point. Using the word “thoughts” instead of “heart” is the big difference. It’s great to point it out to the kids when they do hear from God, to confirm that what they heard was God speaking to them. Just had an experience of that in kids’ church. A 7-year-old boy was leading the class in prayer, and before he prayed he said, “I think we should all take a minute and ask God to forgive us for our sins, because I know we’ve all done wrong things this week.” Totally out of the blue. Teacher led the class in doing that, kid prayed, and then the teacher took that opportunity to explain that that was God speaking to Aaron, who shared that message with the rest of class. Aaron’s eyes lit up, and it opened up a great discussion in the class. Aaron said, “So THAT’S whose voice that is!” Very cool moment for all of us.
This is really great!!! This is exactly what I’m teaching my toddlers right now, thank you for sharing your insight and perspective!!!!
Getting ready to teach our k-3 -ers about hearing God’s voice, googled it and there you are!! So cool! Thanks for the article, Kenny! Hope you guys are doing well. mUch love, Shanygne
You just never know where I’m going to show up, huh? I hope what I wrote provides some perspective! Thanks for checking in!
Well said. We spend a lot of time working with kids on this, and church language can get quite messy. God knows how we are wired, and speaks to each of us accordingly. I also used to figure there had to be a specific process: teach them about the Holy Spirit, then get baptized in the Holy Spirit, then teach a lot on prophecy, then listen. One day before I knew it I just told the kids (80% had never been to church before) that God wanted to talk to them – we just had to listen and know it might be a thought, a feeling, all kinds of things. We took a few minutes because it doesn’t have to take long – no longer than a friend saying “hey, how are you?” and when we asked the kids to share pretty much the whole room was up sharing about warm feelings, being told they were beautiful, being misty eyed and not quite able to share but just pointing at their hearts, and one boy heard “the sound like a different language, but not from earth.” The other kids laughed until we began speaking in tongues the next day and he said, “hey! That’s what I heard!” We always check in with the Bible about what kids are hearing, but also leave room to say, “I’m not sure – let’s keep asking God about that one.”
The original article was posted over 4 years ago – thank you God and thanks to the team at Children’s ministry online as I need to prepare something for the kids in our life group on hearing from God. The article and replies as well gave me great insight and some helpful tips. Thanks so much and praise our amazing God (he knew I would need this 4 years ago!!!! ) x
Glad I found this post/thread … talking to kids about the voices in their heads … and trying to discern which one is God’s (Holy Spirit) can be confusing. I teach kids in one classroom ages 3-12 so you can imagine what the perception levels are … all over the chart.
But just helping kids understand how to sort through the voices in their minds has been an eye-opener to them. We’ve talked about sorting through thoughts and where (and from whom ultimately) they come from.
I think the emphasis on prayer (listening as well as talking) and Scripture is important. However, most kids do NOT read their Bibles, especially younger ones who are just learning how to read. So I make certain that our songs are Scripture-based and that we memorize a Bible verse every week. I tell kids that those songs are the Bible in music, and hiding God’s Word in their minds will be like a library shelf where they can grab a truth and use it, whenever necessary.
I’ve encouraged kids to get the Adventure Book/Bible so they don’t get hung up on the larger words, but master the basic concepts. But, as you all know, those story Bibles don’t really convey the Psalms or Proverbs that have such great meaning. Stories exemplify truths, but are not necessarily those bite-sized morsels that kids can memorize and hang onto in times of need.
Thank you for your article. I am teaching my kids to hear from God and this was the best article I read, straight to the point no mystics.
God Bless you