For several years now we have been going through a catechism with our children. Simply put, a catechism is made up of questions about God, the gospel, and so on and the answers to those questions. It’s a wonderful way of teaching children the most foundational theological truths in Christianity.
Several months ago, we were working through the questions: “How many Gods are there?” and “How many persons are in God?” One evening as we were having our family worship time, my husband, Judah, turned to our oldest daughter (who was two at the time) and asked, “Jenesis, how many Gods are there?” She enthusiastically answered, “THREE!” I glanced at Judah, who was stifling a grin. He gently said, “Actually, there is one God. But there are three persons in God.” She nodded with a big smile on her face, but we knew she didn’t really grasp what he was saying. And sure enough, it took quite a few evenings and repetitions for her get the answers straight.
The Trinity is one of the most difficult truths about God to try to grasp, let alone teach to our children. It can feel intimidating trying to introduce them to truths that we ourselves find hard to understand, but these can also become the perfect opportunity to introduce children to just how incomprehensibly amazing God is.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing we need to understand something fully before we teach it to our children. But that’s not the case. There are certain things we will never be able to completely comprehend this side of heaven (like the Trinity), but because God says it’s true in His Word, that’s why we believe it. This will demonstrate to our children that we are in submission to God, that we know His Word is Truth, and that we can obey even when we don’t always understand because we know He is trustworthy.
So, how do we go about teaching children about the Trinity? Here are some foundational ways to begin.
Be in the Word
The very best place to start is by spending our own time in the Word, seeking the Lord and asking Him to reveal Himself to us on ever-deepening levels. The more we know God, the more trust we will have in Him, and the more confident we will be resting in what we do understand rather than being concerned about what we can’t understand.
If the concept of the Trinity is something you feel you need more Biblical understanding of, it can be really helpful to look up specific Scriptures that speak directly to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit being three in one. Here are a few of them.
“I [Jesus] and the Father are one.” John 10:30
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Stick to the Facts
One reason Judah and I have chosen to use a catechism with our children is because it simply states the facts about who God is in a way that children are able remember easily, including the Trinity. The more time we’ve spent teaching our children, the more we understand why God tells us to “receive the Kingdom of God like a child” (Mark 10:15). It doesn’t take a lot of convincing for a four-year old to believe what you’re telling them. We’ve seen over and over again our children display the mindset of “If the Bible says it, I believe it.” So we can trust that as we are faithful to teach them, the Lord will grow the seeds of truth that have been planted.
Whether you choose to use a catechism or not, taking the same basic structure for teaching the Trinity is an excellent way to approach it. Here is an example:
Q: How many Gods are there? A: One God.
Q: How many persons are in God? A: Three Persons.
Q: Who are the three persons in God? A: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and these Three are One.
There are other ways that people have used to try to explain the Trinity, and they can be helpful to a certain extent. Some people use a triangle, with each of the corners being a different person of the Trinity. Some use illustrations like water being one substance but three forms (ice, liquid, steam) or an apple (skin, seed, fruit). All of these will break down at some point, however, because the Trinity is and always will be a mystery this side of Heaven. And it’s okay for our children to know that.
Ask God for Wisdom
Whether we’re teaching our children about the Trinity or any other subject, it will require wisdom that goes beyond what we have in and of ourselves. So it is key that we are continually seeking the Lord for wisdom in how we teach our children and answer the questions they might have. Judah and I have had so many times when questions have come our way that we don’t know exactly how to answer. But in every situation, we’ve seen the Lord give words for what we were supposed to say, whether that was a straightforward answer, or simply, “I don’t know. We should find out more about that.” We always need to remember that God cares more about us and our children understanding who He is than we do, and He promises to give wisdom and insight as we ask Him.
So when it comes time to teach our children these mysterious truths about our great God, let’s not shy away from them. Let’s embrace them, allowing them to grow ours and our children’s understanding about who God is, how infinitely grand He is, and how amazing it is that He reveals Himself to us through His Word.