Teaching Theology to 5-Year-Olds

Tonight as I was putting my kids to bed, we prayed for some friends who are serving as missionaries in China. I asked God to protect them from Satan.
“Daddy, who’s that thing you prayed about?” asked my 5-year-old daughter.
“You mean Satan?”
“Yeah, Satan.”
Hmm. How exactly do you explain Satan to a 5-year-old? “He’s a bad guy that is against God.”
“What kind of a bad guy?” she pressed.
“You remember, in the story of Adam and Eve, he’s the snake that told Eve to disobey God.”
“THAT’S Satan?” she exclaimed. “Is he in China, too?”
“Yeah, he’s lots of places.”
“How did he crawl all the way to China?”
Man, 5-year-olds are tough.
“Well, he’s actually an evil spirit who is opposed to God. He just took the form of a snake when he talked to Eve.” I could tell she wasn’t quite following me on this one. Spirits are pretty abstract compared to snakes.
My 7-year-old son chimed in to try to clear things up. “You know who else is Satan? The White Witch.” (They had been watching The Chronicles of Narnia over the weekend.)
“She’s Satan too? AND the snake?” my daughter queried. Every 5-year-old knows that a white witch is not the same thing as a snake.
I tried to wrap it up as tidy as possible for now (we’ll obviously have to come back to this one later). “Well, Satan looks like a lot of things, because he is against God. So anytime someone is disobeying God, they are doing what Satan wants.”
She thought for a minute, and then offered, “Well, he’s a pretty bad guy then, because disobeying God is NOT good.”
I think teaching theology to 5-year-olds is about as tough as it gets. Mad props to all you moms and dads out there who are having these conversations!


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  1. I think that this illustration is an example that is at the heart of everyone, no matter what age. I still have a hard time finding out what forms Satan is taking in my life. I don’t have parents to tell me where Satan is, but the community around me helps me identify where Satan is in my life. Needless to say, we are all searching for God and Satan at the same time. One to accept fully in our lives and one to rebuke for our lives. We always need someone around us to identify his different forms, because he is a sneaky little snake! Kudos to all the people in my life that are continuing to “parent” me through this challenge.

  2. “Well, he’s a pretty bad guy then, because disobeying God is NOT good.”

    That’s awesome right there! 🙂

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