Apr 22, 2014

Should You Teach Kids About Hell?

I grew up in church hearing about hell.  As a child, I listened as preachers passionately described it's horrors and urged me to avoid going there.

I was even taken to see a movie called "The Burning Hell" that imprinted images of people burning in hell into my memory.  That was over 40 years ago.

Fast forward to today.  Do I still believe hell is a literal place?  Yes.  Do I teach kids about it?  Yes...but with a different approach.

Here's how I communicate it to kids in our new believer's class...
  • Romans 6:23 says the penalty for sin is death. 
  • Spiritual death means being separated from God.
  • Instead of a person living with God forever in heaven, they would be separated from God forever. 
And that's it.  I don't go into "weeping and wailing" or "gnashing of teeth" or "a fire that is never quenched."  At that stage in life, I don't think it's necessary.

How and when you communicate the truth is important.  I believe some truth in the Bible is better communicated at later stages in life.  The Beast of Revelation is in the Bible, but that's probably not the best subject for next week's preschool lesson.

What do you think?  Should we teach kids about hell?  How much detail should we go into?  What is your approach?

Share your thoughts with us below.

3 comments:

I agree completely. I've taught kids for 30 years and sill use that approach. They need to know the truth tempered for their age.

Roman 6:23 is the key verse in our presentation and we hammer the concept of separation, but we do talk about hell by name because the kids need to know how to talk about it. We use the analogy of a fish out of water.

You know people make try to make hell into something funny... you've seen funny red devil costumes at halloween and in old cartoons like Tom and Jerry they would try to make it funny. But it's not funny.

Everything the Bible says about Hell is true and here's the worst thing....

Who made the world? (God)
Who made your family? (God)
Who made you friends? (God)

There is a fancy term called "common grace." Even though the world is broken, God still made it and it can be a really good place. We don't deserve it. We deserve punishment right now, to be separted from Him right now ...but everyone lives in God's Grace.

Would a fish at the bottom of the ocean understand what it means to be out of the water?

Would he like it?

You're like a fish, you've always lived in His grace. We can't really even understand what it would be like to be separated from God, but we can understand it isn't a good thing.

For younger kids, I call it "the place of punishment," as opposed to heaven. I think they need to know there are two places; however, I pretty much just mention it when appropriate and don't emphasize that aspect of it. All the children know what punishment is, and most have already heard from other sources what "hell" is.

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