19 March 2008

Oh, you have GOT to be KIDDING me

by Dan Phillips

In the meta to my previous post, Mike Hall pointed me ultimately to something that had me literally slack-jawed.

Step away from sharp objects, sit down, have your heart-medicine at hand, take a few deep and slow breaths...

...and read this.

You'll see "A Special Note About Easter" which, according to pastor Blake Hickman, came from the First Look Sunday School publishers.

In the letter they explain how — you are sitting down, right? I wasn't kidding. They explain why they are leaving Easter out of their Easter materials. They've decided that the story of the Cross is too violent and disturbing for young children, and the Resurrection wouldn't make any sense without it, so they "are focusing on the Last Supper, when Jesus shared a meal and spent time with the people He loved."

I just... is this Scrappleface? Is this some sort of joke?

See further comments:
Tom Ascol
Tim Ellsworth
Russell D. Moore
Do any of you use this curriculum? Are they barking-mad in other ways as well?

At this point, I run out of post-conversion, sanctified vocabulary. Over to you.

Dan Phillips's signature


Anonymous said...

Well...now more than ever we need Sunday School teachers who are willing to ignore the curriculum and teach the Bible.

Death or Glory Toad said...

Not surprised at all.

Can't remember the curriculum I used as a SS teacher in Cuba (probably because I deviated from it fairly regularly), but there was a significant lack of Bible and an abundance of helping kids make friends with God.

I won't say I did a good job, but for 3 years I made sure the curriculum only got used when it fit the Bible's standards. Kids from age 4 to 11 left my classroom with verses and lessons that told 'em who God was, who they were, and who needed what. Jesus died on the cross every Easter in my classroom.

Thanks for putting this up.

Rob Hickok

David A. Carlson said...

Ok, I will be the sacrificial lamb on this one.

Curriculum needs to be age appropriate. If you teach ideas and concepts that either by themselves or by their method are "over the head" of the classroom, you have effectively taught nothing.

So - how do you communicate the cross effectively to a 3 year old? To a 4 year old? Do you do it in the same way as a 12 year old?
Based on the limited quote of FL material does supply material that teachs the cross and resurrection to use with kids in Kindergarten

Again - they are leaving out the story of the cross in their materials for kids 1 to 5. Not first through fifth grade, but one to five year olds!.

This is a very hard age to write curriculum for. This is not material for grade school, middle school or high school.

If you have an age appropriate way of teaching the crucification to a 2 year old, share it with us. If you don't, go ahead a take a stab at it. I am curious as to just how you are going to treat it.

DJP said...

The short answer is that, in our family, we never censored the Gospel. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the virgin, Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; and rose again on the third day.

Little kids can understand the outline just fine. Fill it in as they grow.

alo 89 said...

It is always difficult to decide how to tell kids about Jesus' sacrifice. I wrote a puppet play about Holy week. In it we cut from the crowd chanting "Crucify Him! Release Barabbas!" at the end of Act 1, to Mary crying at the open tomb at the beginning of Act 2. We tell the kids Jesus is going to die and we tell him He died and was buried but we don't try to get them to visualize the whole process. You don't start new believers out with meat and I think it is consistent with good evangelistic practice to not start the kids out with the hardest, most graphic things. Perhaps the curriculum you cited is too wimpy, but surely there is some discernment required in choosing how to teach children about Christ and the Crucifixion.

Terry said...

Is it any wonder that churches are looking for Gospel-focused curriculum like that from Desiring God and Sovereign Grace Ministries (I understand that Grace Community Church has material as well)?

What disturbs me re. SS curriculum all year long is the moralism - the "do this and live" focus - rather than faith in Christ.

DJP said...

I think there's quite a bit of space between showing small children The Passion, and portraying Easter as being about dinner with your friends.

David A. Carlson said...


So share your lesson plan for teaching the crucifixion to 2 year olds.

Got a coloring page for that?

Perhaps a puppet show or a flannel diagram? How about a dramatic reenactment?

I think it is reasonable to teach different parts of the bible to different age groups in different ways. You don't have to teach every part (can't really) to every class every year.

The best that can be done is to develop a systematic plan to teach through the most important parts of the bible, in the most appropriate manner to each class.

VcdeChagn said...

Again - they are leaving out the story of the cross in their materials for kids 1 to 5. Not first through fifth grade, but one to five year olds!.

Not me. I do devotions with my children daily. My oldest is 5 (we started devotions when he was 3).

We've been through Luke, Acts, John, Genesis and are currently working our way through the Samuels and Kings.

They understand that David made a bad choice when he had more than one wife, and they know that Saul was just plain nuts towards the end....and a bunch of other things.

Why is the cross a problem for a 5 year old?

He's conceived in iniquity and comes forth from the womb telling lies like all of us.

SolaMommy said...

Most preschoolers have some sense of what death is...their pet has died, or their grandma has died, or they saw a dead bird on the ground or a flattened squirrel in the road...they understand that death means "going away and not coming back." So they can understand what a miraculous thing it was for Jesus to die...and then come back! What's so tough about that? Do we need to get into the nails being driven into Christ's hands and feet, or how he was beaten, or any of the gory stuff? No, but we can certainly explain death and resurrection to preschoolers. I'm curious if this curriculum ever uses the story of Christ bringing Lazarus back from the dead.

Anonymous said...


I don't see your problem here. So blood is too graphic for little kids, don't show it, tell it.

My kids have known almost since they knew how to talk that Jesus died so his people won't go to hell. Kids understand right and wrong (they sure understand "no") and they understand that wrong gets punished (spanking anyone?) so it's not a mind-bending stretch for them to understand that someone else got spanked for them.

Sure, they don't really get it all, but they get most of it. Just like they don't get "no" until they get the follow-up spank, and they don't know what you mean by "obey" when you first tell them, but they'll get it, they're not idiots.

Besides, how better to grow up than being unable to remember exactly when you understood the gospel, but only that you do?

VcdeChagn said...

So share your lesson plan for teaching the crucifixion to 2 year olds.

Well, last Easter (1, 2 and 4 year old) we did resurrection cookies and explained the Cross and what it represented to them. At that point, we had been through John and explained the cross as a part of our daily devotions (explained in an earlier post).

The Cross is a daily part of our lives...so Easter is more of a memorial than a time to go over it all for the first time.

At this point, it's largely explained in terms of sin and payment for sin rather than the gruesome details.

Same thing again this year...

RBrown said...


From what I'm reading it doesn't indicate that what was being produced previously wasn't effectively communicating for that given age group. But now the it's been deemed that the violence associated with the Christ's death on the cross is inappropriate. And since the publishers judge that there is no ability to convey the message of the cross without graphic description, the choice is made to omit it altogether. That seems a quick leap to an either/or decision, and a decision that leads to a curriculum that teachs an inacurate portrayal of Christ that presumably will be corrected at some later date. It does bring in question whether what was previously produced really too violent.
That's just the way it appears to this Grandpa sees it.

Anonymous said...

There are parts of the bible we haven't yet introduced our kids to. (That guy who shoved his wife out to the mob then cut up her dead body and sent it to the 12 tribes of Israel? We haven't covered that yet.) But the central tenet of Christianity we cover. We don't go all "Passion of the Christ" gory, but we tell them that Jesus really suffered and really died for our sins.

The Cross is THE point and the foundation. Skipping that is like putting up walls on sand. (I think Jesus had something to say about that.)

Desiring God has great curriculum for 2 year olds that teaches Jesus' death and resurrection in an age appropriate manner. But no flannel graph. :(

Joe Blackmon said...

I'd heard somewhere that preaching always goes in three stages in a cycle. In the first, God's word is taught faithfully in it's context. In the second, the truths taught are those in the Bible, but they are taught using worldly reasoning. In the third statge, the truths taught are not only unbiblical but anti biblical and heritical. Sounds like from this we're getting to the late stages of number two, huh?

Anonymous said...

OK, so I understand the almost fanatical desire these days to avoid portrayals of violence to children, especially young children. It's a violent world we live in, and little ones need some time to grow before being exposed too much to the harsh realities of a sin-filled world.

But...using this rationale to expunge the truth of the crucifixion and resurrection from SS material seems absurd. The cross and the empty tomb are the defining events for Christian faith and belief. Remove them from the picture and all you have left is a moralistic religion. So does it make sense to teach our young kids a partial gospel, and then spring the truth on them later? There's enough moralistic deism in the world (and the church) already, let's not start indoctrinating our toddlers with it too.

Darlene said...

Rebecca had the best observation of all about this. She called it "gross child neglect" and pointed to her own testimony to show why the marketing geniuses who came up with this toned-down curriculum are about as wrong as it's possible to be.

S.J. Walker said...

Dan said:

"Little kids can understand the outline just fine. Fill it in as they grow."

Absolutely. It is a logical fallacy to say one teaches the Gospel and leaves out the crucifixion. The Gospel IS the cricifixion, AND the resurrection AND the hope of salvation by that same power. Leave out any of those and there is NO Gospel. No bad news. No good news. Just a little story about a bunch of freinds.

Hard to write material for that age group, I'll grant that, maybe.

But to leave it out entirely until they are a little older? Come on. That's just just laziness at best.


I appreciate what you pointed out in order to keep some level headedness. And I understand perhaps sparing some of the gory details, but by not mentioning this until they are five or older, many will believe they are being taught something completely different and sold a bill of goods--because they are.

That's my three cents.

A Lion Has Roared!

Anonymous said...

By the way, watching my kids as soon as they can walk running around killing each other (and Mommy and Daddy) with swords, guns and karate chops makes it hard to believe that telling a 2 year old that Jesus died (or even, was killed) to save them will traumatize them.
If that were true they'd all have been traumatized by themselves long before I got to them...

S.J. Walker said...


You must be blessed with children as wild and "imaginative" as I.

FX Turk said...

I can't believe we both used the same graphic today.

donsands said...

First Look is down right offensive to the Gospel of grace , and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

My 5 year old grandson and I were praying, and I thanked the Lord for dying for us. Matthew, asked me,"Why did Jesus have to die?"

I explained for our sins, and He rose agian from the dead. He was quite, and didn't understand really, but the Lord's truth was paramount.

The Gospel is being watered down, and even eliminated. Satan is very shrewd, and we are not ignorant of his cleverness.

Anonymous said...

"You must be blessed with children as wild and "imaginative" as I."

S.J. - Are there any other kinds? So far I'm 5 for 5 and they're not getting any tamer... :)

"My 5 year old grandson and I were praying, and I thanked the Lord for dying for us. Matthew, asked me,"Why did Jesus have to die?""

Donsands, I'm WAYY too yound for grand-kids, but it sure doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Nik P said...

Unbelievable! So the assumption is that a response to the Gospel is dependent on the intellectual capacity of the hearer? What happened to 1 Cor. 2:1?

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” - Mat. 19:14

DJP said...

Yes, Frank; but what's really important is that I used it first.


Anonymous said...


"What happened to 1 Cor. 2:1?"

Haven't you heard? That was pulled for the alternate ending option.

S.J. Walker said...


I knew one once. Poor fella. He didn't stand a chance.

Colloquist said...

dac rightly points out that we must take age into consideration. But there is a big gap between leaving out the crucifixion and showing a preschooler "The Passion of the Christ" in its entirety. He (dac) asks, "If you have an age appropriate way of teaching the crucification to a 2 year old, share it with us. If you don't, go ahead a take a stab at it. I am curious as to just how you are going to treat it."

I think it's important to note that the crucifixion isn't something parents should pull out and "teach" once a year just before Easter. It's part and parcel of the Gospel that should be on our hearts daily. Like Dan said, they get the outline just fine. For kids who run around chopping limbs off their friends with light sabers, "Jesus died on the cross" is not disturbing at all. They should hear it more often than just Good Friday, and as they are able to understand more of the details, we fill them in.

God's Word has power to change hearts. When we start editing to fit our world's ideas of what kids should or shouldn't hear, we strip the Word of its power. God forbid.

Kim said...

We talked about the Crucifixion with our children from the time they were old enough to be read to. Did we do into a forensic explanation with a five year old? No.

Our children are 18, 16, and 13 and emotionally healthy today.

There is a way to discuss the Cross with a child without giving them nightmares. You just have to do a little thinking.

Unknown said...

Great Commission Publications is what our church uses (and we are Southern Baptist). Our toddlers seem to get the cross and resurrection just fine. If you are actually looking for an appropriate way to introduce the cross to your little ones, check them out.
I use their Younger Elementary curriculum to teach my 1st and 2nd graders in Sunday School, and it is full of solid Bible teaching and verse memory. I know this sounds like a commercial (I promise I'm getting no endorsement fee), but since so many were bemoaning the lack of good biblical children's curriculum, I wanted to let you know we've found a winner.

Echindod said...

I have a professor who has tried to get a book published that goes through each of the stories of the bible, describing what the main point should be, what the passage doesn't teach, and what it does teach and some basic pointers about how to do it. He hasn't been given a second look, and he is in good standing with the publishing companies (Editor of several series, good selling author of several books).

It is said that they don't teach the resurrection and crucification, but it is just another out growth of SS curriculum's refusal to teach the Bible. After the main point of David and Jonathan sounds better if its friendship...

Nash Equilibrium said...

This last Sunday, we were singing some Easter hymns at church. One of them asked "are you washed in the blood?"
My 12 year old daughter leaned to me and said "ew - that doesn't sound very Christian".

I have to admit, this song still sounds weird, although I've heard it for decades and obviously I understand its meaning.

So maybe it's not just what you tell people, but how you tell them.

donsands said...

"it sure doesn't get any better than that, does it?" -Daryl

Grandkids are a very special gift, and joy, from our Lord God. He is way too gracious to me.

My daughter was 2 lbs when she was born, and she had surgerey on her heart. The doctors gave her less than a 50% chance to live.

Now I have three wonderful grandsons.
Jesus is incredibly gracious, and all this was before I loved the Savior, and in fact was a blasphemer.

I just had a urge to bless the Lord from my soul. Hope that's alright.

Carol Jean said...

No doubt brought to us by the same folks who decry "lying" to our children about the dreaded Easter Bunny.

"alternate ending to the Bible story" is all you need to know about this curriculum.

LeeC said...

I would err on the side of "teaching the whole counsel of God" as best I can, over that of the psychologist.

The Passion of Christ ,left out the most important part that cannot be shown on a screen. The Fathers wrath poured out on His Son. My daughter knew by three that Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins that we deserved.

She was able to grasp this in part because up to that point she regularly heard the story of the cross. Over time she understood it a little bit more.

Let me just say one thing here.
NO urepentant person is EVER "ready" to hear the story of the cross. But it is a supernatural story, with supernatural power, that God uses as He wills.

Our job is to tell it.

Let Him decide what he does with it to whom he will.

David A. Carlson said...

Just an observation on several commenter's posts.

"1st and 2nd Graders"
"when they were old enough to read"
"My 5 year old Grandson"

None of those are the age group FL is producing material for.

FL produces material for children all younger than this. In fact for the 5 year olds (k) they sent out material that did deal with the resurrection.

I am still looking for someone to take me up on the curriculum for 2 year olds. It's easter this weekend - call up your Pastor and have him email you the lesson. Find out how your church is teaching SS to them.

A couple of general observations:

If you don't teach SS now, do you know what is being taught in your Sunday School Classes? Has your Senior Pastor reviewed and approved the material himself? I suspect for many, the answer is no to both questions.

Second, I am willing to bet most of your churches have nothing for 1's and 2's in SS, never mind what you might consider acceptable description of the crucification.

DJP said...

You know, dac, you've been answered so many times and so patiently, that I'm starting to wonder what your issue is with this.

Anonymous said...


"I just had a urge to bless the Lord from my soul. Hope that's alright."

That's precisely why I enjoy all your posts so much. (Besides the fact that you've always got something worthwhile to say)

Keep it up!!


I'm pretty sure I mentioned that my kids have learned about this stuff since they could talk. Is that young enough?

LeeC said...

"Second, I am willing to bet most of your churches have nothing for 1's and 2's in SS, never mind what you might consider acceptable description of the crucification."

You would be very, very wrong.
Don't gamble.

donsands said...

"My 5 year old Grandson"

"None of those are the age group FL is producing material for."

I thought the preschool was 1-5?

Unknown said...

I guess I wasn't clear on my post? I was saying that I personally teach 1st and 2nd graders from the GCP curriculum because people were upset over the general direction of SS curriculum as a whole.
My first paragraph pointed out (I thought) that we teach our toddlers from the GCP curriculum as well. You may feel free to go to their website and take a look at their TODDLER curriculum (for 2's and 3's) which includes wonderful lessons on the cross and the resurrection.

I do not know what curriculum you would use for 1 year olds because they are babies. I am pretty sure you would just hug them, love them, change their diapers, give them a snack, and tell them Jesus loves them.

But again, may I repeat, I am talking about toddlers, which is the same age group that was talked about in the original post.
The GCP preschool curriculum (which I personally supervise, have one of my own children in, and have often discussed with our pastor) is for 4 and 5 year olds. It is also the age group talked about in the original post. (Ages 1-5, was it not?) The cross and resurrection are again dealt with in a thoroughly Biblical and yet age-appropriate way.

There is no excuse for deleting the cross from children's curriculum unless you reject it yourself.

Unknown said...

And just in case I wasn't absolutely clear with all my wordiness:

Our church:
TODDLERS (2's and 3's) - teach crucifixion and resurrection
PRESCHOOL (4's and 5's) - teach crucifixion and resurrection

How do I know? I order all the curriculum and review it.

DJP said...

So, Lori... what are you trying to say?


Denis said...


I have worked in the preschool ministry of my church for the past 6 years and we have always taught Jesus' death & resurrection. Maybe we are a bit out of sync, but we taught on the Jesus' death a couple weeks ago; last week we did his ascension.

Unfortunately, I can't give you any snippets from the curriculum right now, I think I still have a copy but it'll be on my home PC. However, the memory verse for our preschoolers right now is: "The angel said, 'Jesus isn't in the grave! He's alive!'" Matthew 28:6

The curriculum we use is adapted from the DiscipleLand curriculum so that may be a resource for you to go to. Looks like it would be quarter E, lesson 10 in their preschool NT curriculum (Alive Again: Jesus Comes Back to Life, Matthew 27:31—28:10, Jesus came back to life again after He died on the cross—just as He said! link).

That said, I can't say exactly how close what I use is to this because I wasn't involved in the adaptation process.

BTW, for me preschoolers means 2-4 yrs.

Unknown said...

As a former Children's Director (and former educator), I loved using First Look. I have young children (2, 3 & 6). I totally get the importance of age appropriate things especially after freaking out my now 6 year old daughter back when she was in preschool. (Anyone ever deal with "Jesus is going to eat my heart" freak-out after we talked about Jesus in our heart? That is just one of many)
They are NOT saying the Resurrection story is not going to be told- it is presented CLEARLY later in Kindergarden. The Bible is presented clearly. I should know since I now volunteer in the K-2nd grade room every Sunday and we use Basic 252 which builds on First Look.
It's funny how people freak out when they don't know the whole story. The founders of ReThink (which does First Look, Basic 252 (elem level))have great hearts for GOD and previously worked in Children's & Family Ministries. Read Sue Miller's book about Children's Ministry and what the research says. Sue Miller and Reggie Joiner are two of the founders of this curriculum. They have heard the stories from previous generations- what works, what was confusing, what is having an impact now, etc. And they have seen what the research has show as far as effectiveness of Sunday Schools of the past. I am not saying the past is all bad either.
My pet peeve is parents who believe it's the church's job to teach their children. NO- it's your job, and the church can support you. The number one influencer of children who stay in the church as adults & are leading lives passionately following Jesus are their parents.
BTW- my 3 year old was just asking about death today. He doesn't get it yet- none of my answers made sense. They will later when he's developmentally ready the way God has created him to be.

Unknown said...

One more great thing about First Look: they have take home material for parents to read that does a couple things.
1. Allows me as a parent to know what they are teaching.(ie concepts, Bible verses)
2. Gives me follow up questions/projects to go deeper with my child.
3. I use the Scripture verses taught that month for Bible memorization with my child to reinforce learning.
Parents: you make the difference! 40 hours a year in Sunday School in no way makes up for the time they are with you!

DJP said...

Heather, all that may be true, and what you say about parents certainly is true — but it doesn't really take away the jaw-dropping element of their stated rationale. They say they're just going to skip Christ's death, AND because of that they're going to skip the Resurrection (on Easter!), and instead focus on a chummy little meal among friends — because it's "too violent."

Chris H said...

I love the comment about an "alternate ending," as if the Bible had (or needed!) some sort of Director's cut, special edition version, complete with shiny packaging and behind the scenes interviews....

I don't know if I'm willing to attribute more to the idea of an "alternate ending," than my amusement, but I was certainly amused.

DJP said...

Oh my, that does open the possibilities, doesn't it? "The Bible — Director's Cut."

(Then along come the RC's with the Extended Edition....)

Anonymous said...

...and then the EC with the Reader's Digest version...

Blake said...

As the author of the original post, I really must jump in here.

First, let me say, I have three small children myself, a 3 1/2 year old, a 2 year old and a 7 mo. old. Things at my house are busy. I am a middle school pastor by trade and what you say about parents being primary in discipling their kids, is a core value at our church, and the backbone of our student ministry.

However, what good can that do if you eliminate the Gospel. We can call it what we want it, but that is exactly what First Look is doing for kids aged 2-5. I include 5 year olds because no alternate ending should ever be taught in regards to the Gospel story.

As far as Sue Miller's and Reggie Joiner's experience with what works and what doesn't, I'm sorry, but God's Truth wins out over what people perceive to work or not work when teaching.

The original reason for me getting upset is because as a parent of a 3year old, other kids his age, whose parents don't chat with their kids about the Gospel, would not have been exposed to the Gospel on Easter.

As far as kids understanding of the Gospel, no man can judge what God can do in the heart. I enjoy the conversation my wife and I have with our son about the Gospel, and most of those conversations are begun by him.

I do agree that First Look has strong curriculum, up to this point, but to omit the foundational principle of our faith, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, in my mind erases all else.

Heather, I do want to affirm what you are doing in your home with your kids, and if all parents would do this and be in tune with what their kids are or aren't learning at church, then I believe great things would happen in regards to the Gospel. But the Cross of Christ cannot be eliminated from that.

Blake Hickman

S.J. Walker said...

I don't want this to descend too far, but I can't resist.

After the extended edition, we could have the cheesy B rate remake...The Message. Or is that the Massage to soothe the cold hard truth of Love and Grace enough to die (crucifixion) and raise again (resurrect)for the sins(bad things I've thought and done against God)?


Solameanie said...

I think if you look at the whole of Scripture, beginning with the examples in the OT to "teach the children these things," the Passover and what it means etc, I don't think there is -- or should be -- any issue over teaching children the whole truth of Scripture in ways they can understand. Whether or not they are disturbed by it is irrelevant.

It is only now, in our hyper-feminized, politically correct, marshmallow-weak, Department of Children and Family Services, Dr. Spockian culture that we have to put airbags on bicycles along with helmets, kneepads, belts with loops for bottles of Purell and Bacitracin, and God forbid, instruction manuals on how to shield kids from the hard truths of life, not to mention their Creator's Word.

While these people are so worried about what the story of their Savior's death will do to generations of young minds, they might also consider the biblical fate of false prophets in the OT and false teachers in the new.


S.J. Walker said...


Took thew words right out of my mouth.

Mike Riccardi said...

And you could bet the house that if we accepted this in the name of... I don't know what word we want to abuse today... how about charity, since that's taken a beating recently.... If we accepted this in the name of "charity," pretty soon, the age of introduction would be getting older and older. Until you can't talk about Christ's death with anyone anymore.

Oh wait. The Emerging Church has already done that for us.

But really... ECers aside, isn't that what happened with the NLT? Started out as a "translation" for younger folks and now 25 year-olds are using it because it's easier than that nasty NASB. That's the story -- I think -- of Eugene Nida and the dynamic equivalence movement fromt he early 50s (see The Word of God in English, Leyland Ryken).

Our reactions need to be as strong as this. If they aren't (to steal a line from the Godfather), "we risk everything we have... I mean, not now, but 10 years from now."

Blake said...

Outstanding observations. That is what gets me about this. The danger is that because they give them the Cross in 1st grade, they feel that makes it alright. It is such a dangerous, slippery slope.


VcdeChagn said...

FL produces material for children all younger than this. In fact for the 5 year olds (k) they sent out material that did deal with the resurrection.

I am still looking for someone to take me up on the curriculum for 2 year olds. It's easter this weekend - call up your Pastor and have him email you the lesson. Find out how your church is teaching SS to them.

A couple of general observations:

If you don't teach SS now, do you know what is being taught in your Sunday School Classes? Has your Senior Pastor reviewed and approved the material himself? I suspect for many, the answer is no to both questions.

Second, I am willing to bet most of your churches have nothing for 1's and 2's in SS, never mind what you might consider acceptable description of the crucification.

Well, our church keeps 2 year olds in the Nursery, so no curriculum there.

As for 3 and up, they will deal with the cross just like they did last year. I could probably dig up some of it if you REALLY want to see it.

Otherwise, I'll reiterate what I said above. When my oldest was 3 and my next oldest was two, we went through the book of John....when they were 4 and 3 (and my next youngest was 18 months) we went through Luke.

In the King James.

All of it.

This includes the Cross. We explained it as Christ dying for the bad choices we make.

On Easter we made resurrection cookies and explained it again...as a special occasion sort of thing.

But as someone mentioned above, the Cross is a DAILY reality in our house, because I present sin..as David did in Psalm 51...as an offense to God first, man second.

My 2 year old doesn't get it yet, my 3 year old gets it sometimes and my 5 year old gets it most of the time.

In summary, my curriculum for ALL my children is the King James Bible. They don't get it all, but you'd be surprised at how much they do get.

Unknown said...

Obviously we are not going to agree but I appreciate you not slamming me or ridiculing me like others. I do appreciate those who shared how they have personally presented the Gospel to their kids.

Solameani: YOu said, "While these people are so worried about what the story of their Savior's death will do to generations of young minds, they might also consider the biblical fate of false prophets in the OT and false teachers in the new."

Are you really trying to tell me that I am corrupting my 3 year old and that he or I are false prophets?

I am passionate about reaching the lost and leading my kids to Christ. The energy and accusations towards good people who EMBRACE God's Word (I have met with Sue) just seems over the top, especially to say it is threatening our kids. The biggest threat to our children are parents who don't live our their faith and are outsourcing their responsibility to others (even the church). Do you know how many children leave the church when they turn 18? I have seen numbers of 60-80%. That is a huge concern.

I think our ultimate goal should be children who grow to love God with all their Hearts, Soul and Mind. My 2 & 3 year old this Sunday are not going to be effected long term by "missing" a 3-5minute story. If you taught 3-4 year olds you would maybe not be going crazy. And my kids have parents who are with them daily, telling them about Jesus, serving others in and out of the church, being missional. They will hear about Jesus and what he did from me, and in ways that won't make them scared. Sorry if that can't fit into your vision of what a good Christ-follower is.

Unknown said...

But Heather, when you are with your kids daily, telling them about Jesus, do you ever mention his death and resurrection?
And if so, why can't their Sunday School teachers figure out a way to do that, too?

Strong Tower said...

You know if kids see violence they will be violent...

I wonder how Christ views this? Do you think that he feels that this is not a good thing to know about? If it pleased the Father to bruise the Son, if he went to far to the extreme crucify his own Son, what do you think he thinks about it? Uh, remorse?

It does seem rather antithetical to the Gospel to keep praise from the mouths of babes. Isn't the highest praise, "We preach Christ and him crucified?

I think the double graphic was doublly too graphic! It assaulted my feelings, alot. Twice

Director's cut, Extended Edition...

I get it... but then again, it could be code for pierced for our transgressions and eternal life...

Scared, scared you say... hmm... like the fear of fire and brimstone... angels with eighteen foot wingspans... bridle height blood... living dead and the dead living... valleys of bones with sinue and tissue all coming together, and the thump-thump in the chest thingy being ripped out and replaced...

The crucifixion sounds rather tame...

Anyway, the knowledge of the Holy begins with the fear of the Lord. Fear is a good when the Good is feared.

Veggie Tales Crucifixion. Never seen one. Well beside belly buttons what else they don't got?

Staci Eastin said...

Our church uses Faithweaver curriculum. One, two, and three-year-olds all get a lesson during Sunday School and church.

The lesson is quite short for the one-year-olds, and we do it during snacks, but we do talk about the Bible lesson. Some one-year-olds do have the ability to understand quite a bit of what you say to them. And since all the kids at my church are above average...(:

The last time I taught on Easter Sunday I was in the three-year-old class. We wrapped marshmallows in crescent rolls and baked them. The crescent roll was empty once we baked them - just like the tomb.

I also remember the time my son (he was about two), came home from Sunday school and showed me the paper that had a picture of "the cross that Jesus died on."

I have always known the story of Christ's death and resurrection.
So, yes, you can teach these things to young children.

I think the real irony here is in their desire to protect preschoolers from violent stories, they're depriving them of the best news of all. You can't plan when a child is going to experience the death of a loved one. Wouldn't it be better to learn about death in the context of the crucifixion and resurrection? It would be one thing if you told a group of preschoolers this story of a terrible death and left it at that. But Jesus rose again! Is there any BETTER thing you can tell them?

Theophilus said...

So, what would they say about my having gone through the apostles Creed with my kids every night (almost every) since they were born, and answering questions as they came up?

What would they say about my 3 year old, saying grace, "Thank you for Jesus who died and is alive again?"


Josh said...

theophilus - I'm with you. My five-year-old knows that Jesus Christ had to die for the forgiveness of our sins...what's the problem? Considering what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, "12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found {to be} false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." The focus of the Easter, let alone the entire Gospel, is the resurrection of Christ. If churches begin purposely removing the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, they are granting Satan a foothold at best and teaching heresy (Gospel which is absent of the necessity of a resurrection) at worst. It's a sad day.

donsands said...

"In summary, my curriculum for ALL my children is the King James Bible."

I trow that thou wot not the New King James hath been well received, as other versions as well.

Anonymous said...

Don beat me to it, but still I can't resist...

"In the King James."

Ummmmm...SO WHAT?

JustJan said...

We turn Jesus into something that looks more like Mr Rogers than the man who over turned tables in the temple and we wonder why our children are not drawn to him.

Draw the outline, fill in the blanks.

If you leave the death and resurrection of the cross out of the Easter story, you don't have anything worth telling.

DJP said...

justjanDraw the outline, fill in the blanks.

There y'go.

Heather — for whatever it's worth to you, you startled me when you indicated you felt you'd been treated roughly or something. I wonder whether you took personally something not aimed at you, or... well, I don't know. I didn't notice any such at all.

Donette said...

Personally, I fail to understand how telling a 4 year old about Christ dying for sinners is any more tramautic than watching Bambi's mom get killed by a hunter. . . or Nemo's mom . . . or Cruella Deville making coats out of puppies . . . or Gretel pushing the old witch into the oven . . . not to mention all the movies with wicked stepmothers. . .

DJP said...

And, by contrast, none of those stories is redemptive.

Plus, there's no happier ending than the Gospel story!

Plus, it really happened!

beachbirdie said...

Wow! This conversation has been an exciting read!

One more vote here for "...understand the outline just fine. Fill it in as they grow."

That is how I teach (I have 5-7 year-olds). I weave sin nature/punishment/substitutionary atonement/crucifixion/resurrection etc. into every Bible story I teach. My dear friend who teaches 3-5 year-olds is able to do the same.

That is how we raised our kids. When evacuated from terrible fires in our area, I had to figure out how to explain to preschoolers sitting in a cold, darkened automobile with me that our house might burn down. I had to explain many deaths, including the rather traumatic loss of their uncle (my brother) in a police "line of duty" incident. Unfortunately I also had to help them deal with the very unexpected death of my father right before their eyes. And more. Yet my children are very stable, mature young adults now.

Kids can handle a lot.

'Nuff said.

Alice said...

I read the story of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion (the version from the Jesus Storybook Bible) to my 4-year-old, and she started to cry.

I was thrilled (in a worshipful, non-sadistic way). Isn't that how it should be?

DJP said...

Next, Alice: no Christmas story.

(My 8yo was very upset by what Herod did to the young children when we watched The Nativity)

Anonymous said...

I get upset just thinking about that part, especially when I look at my little ones...and I'm 40...

JustJan said...

DJP...see there you should have censored that Daryl is upset now. Shame on you!

Maybe when Daryl is 60 we can share that sort of harsh reality with him.

James Joyce said...

Our family used to attend a church (Sorry Frank, we broke your don't leave your church rules)that used First Look Curriculum.

You can scope the site and decide for yourself if they are barking mad or not. www.themeetinghouse.ca

Notice however, the First Look teaching goals from their website.

1. God Made Me
2. God Loves Me
3. Jesus Wants to be My Friend Forever

We now attend a church with a childrens' curriculum that is teaching with these teaching goals.

1. God has all the power.
2. God is in control.
3. God takes care of His children.

Tyler said...

that .pdf reads like satire.

DJP said...

I'm with you, Tyler. Like I said, I had to check to make sure it wasn't Scrappleface or The Onion.