This post is by Dathan Hale, Children’s Pastor at the First Family, First Baptist Church of Columbia, Tennessee. Dathan is also a former Content Editor for The Gospel Project® for Kids.
Some of Dathan’s kids ministry leaders expressed concern about teaching kids Bible stories containing demons, particularly the TGPK session titled Jesus Drove Out Evil Spirits. Below is Dathan’s response.
When I was very young, I feared the shadows I couldn’t explain. When it would get dark, I would investigate the room. If I saw a shadow that I couldn’t explain, I just knew it was a monster. There were times when I needed my mom or dad to flip on the light switch and explain that the shadow was really just my lamp.
Movies don’t hide the monsters. Popular kids’ shows don’t hide the monsters. They all have a bad guy. Instead of denying that the monsters exist, they reveal the monsters as defeated. The good guy always wins.
Isn’t it interesting that when it comes to Scripture we want to hide the monsters? We love Bible stories that highlight the good but fear those that address the bad. Evil exists. Kids know monsters exist at a very early age. GK Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” Instead of sheltering kids from the monsters, we need to shine a light on them and remind them that the real monsters, Satan and his demons, have been defeated too.
Teaching about Jesus driving out evil spirits is an opportunity to do just that. You don’t have to focus on the man having an evil spirit. If you wish, avoid language like “demon possession” and substitute “bad” for “evil,” but whatever you do, don’t miss the opportunity to focus on Jesus’ one on one showdown with all that’s bad in the world. He won! Remind kids that God is not the source of the evil we see today. He is much more powerful than the bad things in our lives, and one day, He will defeat all those bad things forever.
So flip on the light switch and let the kids see the real monsters for what they are…defeated!