Teaching your child the basic tenants of the Christian faith may seem like a complicated task. After all, how much information can a 4- or 5-year-old child absorb about a subject that many adults have trouble understanding? Don't be so intimidated that you leave the task to the pastor or Sunday school teacher, though. You don't want to compromise Biblical principles, but you can explain the elements of Christianity by relating them to a child's everyday experiences in simple ways that he can understand. You don't need a degree in theology or a Hebrew dictionary. Just be ready to answer your child's inevitable questions and take advantage of every opportunity to further his knowledge of Christianity.
Begin with a discussion about God and His Word. Show your child the Bible and explain that God's teachings and messages are written in this book. Tell him that the Bible is where we learned how God made the world and everything in it. Emphasize that God loves him and always will, even when he makes mistakes.
Teach your child about Jesus. Tell him that Jesus is God's son who lived on Earth for a short time, but helped many people while He was here. You can say something like, "People cannot see God, so Jesus came to show us what God was like." Explain to your child that Jesus and God are the same being, but that Jesus wasn't invisible.Try to explain that Jesus sacrificed His life and died so that God would forgive us for our sins, or, wrongdoings.
Explain the trinity to your child. Before you skip this step, thinking that it can only be understood by theological giants, keep in mind that children are usually more apt to accept things on faith. Keep your explanation simple: God is in heaven but He wanted to live among His people so He sent Jesus, His son. After Jesus went back to heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of those who believe in Him. The Spirit of God helps us understand the Bible and helps us make decisions about how to live and treat others.
Tell your child how to become a Christian. Terminology is important here. Salvation and "getting saved" may not register, so speak simply. Explain that the Bible tells us that anybody who believes that Jesus came and died for us will go to Heaven one day and be with God. We have to admit that we make mistakes and tell God we are sorry, but God forgives us. We have to tell God we want to be a better person and that we want Him to live in our hearts. Once we do this, God sends the Holy Spirit, who will help us know when we make mistakes.
Explain the duties of a Christian. Tell your child that once he becomes a Christian, God expects him to follow certain rules of living. Explain that God wants us to obey Him and live the kind of life that Jesus did — loving people, helping them and forgiving those who hurt Him. Finally, tell your child that the main thing God wants Christians to do is tell others about Him and how much He loves them. Read relevant scriptures — John 3:16; Matthew 28:19-20 — and refer to these often to remind your child of these important truths.