How to Explain the Gospel to a 5-Year-Old

Although discipleship and sharing the gospel never happens the same way twice, having a base of truth that you can easily reference in your mind and pull from when you’re sharing can be very helpful. In this blog post we’ll walk through a sample “gospel framework.” This is not in any way meant to be a script. It is simply an example in case it’s helpful to reference as you continue growing in communicating the gospel.

Entry Point

In the context of children’s discipleship, there is usually an entry point to begin walking a child through the gospel. Maybe it’s a question, or a recognition of need, or a wrong behavior. Be aware of these entry point opportunities and be sensitive to how the Spirit is leading you to use them.

Nature and Character of God

If a child, for instance, is misbehaving, ask them if that behavior is like Jesus. Talk about the nature of God. Who is He? What is He like? Here’s an example:

“You’re being loud and distracting right now. Is that like Jesus? What is He like? Is He selfish and thinking about Himself and what He wants, or is He thinking about how He can bring people to His Father? God is the one we should be thinking about and pointing others to because He’s so good and worthy. Are you helping bring others to Him or taking attention for yourself?”

The Flesh

Give the child a context and understanding of sin and the flesh.

“If it’s not like Jesus, that’s the flesh. And those things that you do with the flesh in charge are sin. Why is the flesh in charge of all of us?”

Creation, Life, and the Purpose of Man

Take the child through the story of life before sin, and explain what it was like in the Garden of Eden.

“Well, let’s go way back to when God created the world. It was good, it was perfect, it was beautiful. There was no death. Everything was full of life. God made and gave life. And He did that in a special way with people.

Genesis says that God made man (people) in His image. That means they were made like Him, to especially show what He was like. They could show what He is like because they had His life, His Spirit, in them.”

Sin and Its Consequences

Lead through the story of the fall and its effects.

“God told Adam and Eve not to eat from a certain tree in the garden or they would die. But Satan tempted them, and they chose to disobey God. That was sin and God cannot be with sin. Because of that, His life, His Spirit, couldn’t stay with them and in them. And if you don’t have life, you die. So inside, they didn’t have life anymore.

They had started going their own way instead of following God. They were living as if they were king instead of God. They became His enemies. And the punishment for sin is always death. If you sin, you die (because when you sin you can’t have His life in you).

And when your body dies, you would be separated from (not with) God forever in a place of punishment and horrible pain and suffering called Hell. And that’s the way we’re all born now too.”

Our Need

Reveal man’s insufficiency and need for God’s life once again.

“People were made to know God and show what He is like. This is called glorifying Him. But can they glorify Him now with sin in our lives? Who’s the only one that can be like God and show what’s He is like? Only Him! And can we know someone without being with them? Can we know God if He’s not with us? No!

So in order to do what He made us to do (know Him and glorify Him), we need His life in us. And when we know Him and glorify Him, that’s when we’re full of joy, which is something He wants for His people. However, our sin has stopped us from knowing and glorifying Him and living with this joy. Is there any hope? Can we ever have God’s life again to be able to know and glorify Him?”

The Solution

Make sure children understand that Jesus took their place in suffering and dying, that it was their punishment that He took. Also emphasize the fact that Jesus is stronger than all sin and death. They held no power over Him and He never sinned!

“Is there any hope? Can we ever have God’s life again to be able to know and glorify Him? Yes! We can. Because God is so good and loving and powerful, He has made a way. He sent His Son Jesus to come into this world to live and die for us. Jesus was God and man at the same time.

When Jesus lived, He never sinned. He was perfect. So when He died on the cross, He wasn’t dying because He was being punished for His sins. Instead, because He was perfect, He could take all of our sins and pay for them. He took the punishment that should have been ours.

He took our sins to the cross with Him and they were buried with Him. They were gone and then He rose again because He had beaten sin and Satan. They weren’t stronger than Him. He took them away and then there was no more sin that could keep Him dead.”

How Do We Have God’s Life?

Explain that salvation is offered to all people, but that it requires a response. We don’t just automatically “get it.”

“And all the sin and all the punishment that should have been ours, Jesus took so we don’t have to keep living in it. Does that mean everybody just “gets” God’s life and can keep on living just the way they are right now? No, it doesn’t. Remember, we’re all born without God’s life. In order to be rescued from sin and the flesh and its power and punishment and be filled with God’s life, He tells us two things: repent and believe.”

Repent…

Ensure a clear understanding of repentance.

“Repent means to turn away from something and go the other way. So you repent of your sin. You confess your sins (agree with God that they’re wrong) and then turn away from them and decide that that’s not what you want in charge of your life anymore. You’re completely done with sin. You hate it and realize how much you need Jesus to clean and save you from it.”

You could illustrate this by walking one way and then turn around and go to the other way. Repentance is a complete turning around. You can’t go both ways at once. You can’t be following sin and flesh and God at the same time. You have to choose between them.)

…And Believe

Ensure a clear understanding of belief along with the fact that as you repent and believe God gives you His life (His Holy Spirit) and you give Him yours. He’s the good, great King and Shepherd you now have the joy of knowing, obeying, and glorifying.

“After you repent, then you choose to believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He took all your sin and died so you wouldn’t have to. When He died, it was enough. There’s nothing more you can add to the payment for your sin. Nothing you do makes you better. Nothing you have done is too bad to not be forgiven.

You must realize there’s absolutely nothing you can do to earn God’s forgiveness and get His Spirit. You must understand that Jesus alone is the way back to God and trust that He alone can save you from sin. You can’t try to do anything to save yourself.

And as you do that, you completely give yourself to Jesus and understand that you must live with Him as the King of your life. He’s in charge now. You can’t just keep on going your own way. He’s in charge. He’s perfectly good and loving and you can trust Him completely. You don’t have to be afraid of Him being King, but you can’t ask for Him to save you while still living with the flesh (yourself) in charge of your life and deciding how to live.”

The Spirit Given

“As you repent and believe, God takes away your sin and makes His life, His Spirit, live in you again. That means the flesh is no longer in charge. You’re completely new because instead of being dead without His life you now have His life in you. That means you can know Him and love Him and want to be like Him and actually be like Him.”

Triumph

Communicate what life can look like when someone is filled with God’s Spirit.

“Instead of listening to the flesh, you can listen to the Spirit and the Spirit gives you all the strength of God to live like Him. Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus. There’s no sin that’s stronger than Jesus and His Spirit is in you so instead of obeying sin, you can say no to it—because you have God’s life (His Spirit) in you.

Is there anything that’s stronger than God? No! And if He’s living in you, is there anything that’s too strong for you to say no to with His strength? No! What about whining? What about a bad attitude? What about fear? What about selfishness? What about [fill in the blank]?”

In Christ, Victory, and Walking in the Spirit

“Think about it like this too: After He died, Jesus came back to life again and went to the right hand of God the Father in heaven where everything is beneath His feet. That means He’s above everything, stronger than everything, King of everything.

When you repent and believe, God gives you His life to be in you and also makes it so that you’re in Him. So what Jesus has, you have. Where Jesus is, you are. You’re in Him and He’s in you. It’s like you’re at the right hand of the Father too—in Jesus. If all things are under His feet, they’re under yours too.

Think about a bug being under your foot. You’re above it, stronger than it. Wouldn’t it be silly to do what the bug told you to do? Yes! So wouldn’t it also be silly to live like sin is still stronger than you and that you have to do whatever the flesh tells you to do? It’s beneath your feet! It’s not stronger than Jesus.

Since you’re in Him and He’s in you, sin isn’t stronger than you either. Instead of obeying it, you can now glorify Jesus by showing what He is like, by following the Spirit and living like Jesus. Listen to His voice (through the Spirit and through God’s Word), trust that He’s given you everything you need (His life), and then obey.

This doesn’t mean you will never sin again, but God will show you when you do, you can turn away from it, and instead of seeing a pattern of sin in your life (sinning over and over and over again) you’ll start seeing a pattern of following Jesus and being more like Him.”

Knowing and Glorifying

Don’t forget to remind the child over and over again what a joy it is to belong to Jesus, to be loved by Him, to know Him, to follow Him, to live fully for Him, to glorify Him, to look forward to all of forever with Him.

“And now you can do all that you were created to do. You can know and glorify Jesus, filled with His life and His joy, following Him, growing ever closer to Him, becoming more and more like Him as you do, and knowing that one day He will come back and you will be forever with Him. There is absolutely nothing better.”

Final Thoughts

The truths found in this post are foundational truths to come back to over and over again in your own life and as you disciple children. The gospel isn’t just a one-time thing you share with a child or something you put up on a shelf once you know your sins are forgiven.

These principles should be woven into every aspect of discipleship for they are the very basis not only of salvation but of continued growth and maturity in Christ, of a victorious, given, joy-filled life of knowing and glorifying Him. There isn’t a formula for imparting the truth of the gospel and it takes sensitivity to the Spirit to know what and how to communicate in any given circumstance.

The situations will be as varied and unique as the children you’re discipling, but oh, what wisdom and creativity He gives. So treasure the gospel, meditate on it, never lose the wonder of it, study it, know it, love it, live it. Ask the Lord for such a grasp on it that you can share it with a 4-year old or a 14-year old or 94-year old in all its astonishing simplicity without losing its profound depths.

Remember that He is even more desirous than you are for His gospel to be proclaimed and He will provide you with all that is needed to do so in the lives of the children He has entrusted to you.

 

For resources on teaching the gospel to kids and training them how to live out the truths of God’s Word, check out the HEROIC LIFE DISCIPLESHIP CURRICULUM, created to facilitate discipleship, equip for ministry, and spread a passion for the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ. Click HERE to learn more!

Cristina was part of the original founding Heroic Life Discipleship team. She has multiple years of experience in teaching, writing, editing, communication, and administration. Within Heroic Life Discipleship, Cristina serves as the director of curriculum and training. The desire of her heart is to know Christ, make Him known, and equip others to do the same. Some of her favorite pastimes are reading, traveling, music, photography, hiking, and spending time with refugees and others from around the world.

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Michael MorganTodd Schoepflin Recent comment authors
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Todd Schoepflin
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Todd Schoepflin

Good article on basics

But acts 2:38 says
Repentance and
Baptism

In order to receive:
Forgiveness of sins
Holy Spirit

Belief was implicit in acts 2 sermon. James says even demons believe

Michael Morgan
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Michael Morgan

Hey Todd, thanks for the comment! It was good to connect with you in WA and it’s good to hear from you. To clarify what we’re talking about with belief, I think we’re looking at a couple different potential kinds of belief or definitions. One is belief that leads to salvation, another is just intellectual assent to facts. James 2 is talking about the difference between belief in God that leads to action/repentance/obedience, vs. just intellectual assent without action. Also, James says (2:18), “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” This belief of… Read more »

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