Are you drowning trying to think of some new way to share the good news with kids this Easter?
Could you use some inspiration and short cuts to help you teach Easter so that your kids hear the good news afresh this year?
We've all been there, so let me help you get the job done by giving you a focus and some quick tips to make sure your kids understand what Jesus achieved in a fresh light.
Plus, I’ll even give you the opportunity to have FREE access to one of my Easter video courses, that will take away the heavy lifting for you, saving you bundles of time and energy.
I’ve been sharing the good news with kids in schools and churches for the past 10 years performing shows using three different characters, live drawings and rap music. Several of these shows began from requests from schools and churches to perform around Easter. I’m going to share with you my approach to preparing and engaging kids in the good news so that you can nail your prep, save time and do a great job teaching straight from the Bible this Easter season.
But we need to set some ground rules. First, I’ve got four things you should avoid then I’m going to show you five ways to help you really ‘zone’ in your preparation for Easter.
Let’s get cracking with four mistakes I’d encourage you to avoid if you want to effectively teach kids the Easter message in a memorable way:
1. The cart before the horse
2. Trying to say too much
3. Making God into a toothless tiger
4. Unnecessarily graphic
1. The cart before the horse
Often with kids we panic worrying about how we will teach them. The pressure to be creative can overwhelm us or it can overwhelm the clarity of our message.
We worry ourselves… but what will I do?
A puppet show? A mime? A video? A magic show? Some slides?
Well, these are all packaging, and none of these will matter, if you get the foundations wrong. First, we need to make sure we’re not just forcing the Bible into our creative packaging, our magic show or whatever it is.
Now most of us will jump to a topic, a theme of Easter and chase that through in our presentation. None of this is a problem, but I want to encourage you to see that there are much greater riches to be found in following the text carefully. We are better off letting the original accounts of Easter from the gospels provide us with the theme, topic and sometimes even the packaging!
So, I say worry about the packaging later, let’s get the fundamental foundations right and the packaging will fall into place. Down below I’m going to share several ways to follow the Biblical accounts of Easter and you’ll even be able to check an example out on video!
2. Saying too much
In our eagerness to share the riches of what we know or have learnt from our preparation we can easily overwhelm our listeners. It’s the skill of a seasoned preacher and teacher to self-edit for the sakes of their audience. Kids especially won’t tolerate a lengthy or multi-pronged message; instead they’ll roll around, get distracted and you’ll lose them.
You don’t need to tell the whole story. You can share the Easter good news message, without covering every aspect of Easter. That’s right, you don’t, nor should you try and tell kids about Jesus’ ministry, his betrayal, trial, death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost in one go. Yes, it’s Easter and all these events are part of it, but being faithful to the truth, doesn’t mean trying to say everything.
Remember, say everything and they’ll hear nothing.
So, what’s the solution?
Have one big idea. One point.
Yep, you must have one big idea only and repeat it. Sure, you can hang some other ideas around it…but they must support, reinforce, take us back to and embellish your ONE big idea.
Question is…what will be your big idea? How do you select it?
Keep reading and I’ll show you how I do it and at the same time, remain super close to the text of the Scriptures.
3. Making God a toothless tiger
Easter is a great season to share the good news about Jesus. While Christmas is more celebratory and not really the season to harp on about the cross of Christ, Easter is in another league. At Easter people are willing to be more reflective and therefore, the quality of the audience is better. This means that Easter is no time to get squeamish.
I’m not talking about graphic details of the crucifixion, no, I’m saying, don’t avoid plainly setting forward the truth. This means we should talk plainly about our wrong, our need for forgiveness, God’s necessary judgement and his incredible kindness in sending Jesus to die in our place.
Kids of course will listen better if you have good ‘packaging’, but if you don’t show them the gospel or explain it, they can’t respond to God’s offer.
One thing to note however, is consider carefully how you present the ‘offensive’ good news of Jesus’ cross to kids. We don’t want to give them nightmares…read on!
4. Unnecessarily Graphic
When teaching kids the Easter message, we don’t need Mel Gibson’s help. I’m thinking “The Passion of the Christ”. The gospels themselves do not focus on the details of the suffering by crucifixion, horrific as they would have been.
Kids don’t need to be shocked by details of torture or asphyxiation. What we need to do is simply follow the characters in the Bible, for it is in their story and their perspectives and responses that we find ourselves and the response we should have to Jesus. To see an example of how I go about it, check out one of my video courses that you can preview for free for a limited time.
It’s easy to go soft and only talk in positives; marketing any product usually means highlighting the benefits and minimizing any negatives. Consequently, some of us will try to avoid any negative talk around kids fearing that we will harm their self-esteem. You’ll especially find this concern in schools. No-one likes the word ‘sinner’. Teachers listening may not like the Bible’s negative portrayal of the human heart.
I don’t think we should drop this concept…but perhaps it needs defining and a little more explanation. Every kid knows they can be naughty. Every kid knows the school has rules for the good of everyone. We all break the rules...there are consequences for good reasons...and so on.
Kids can’t respond truthfully unless they know their need. If all we do is offer a ‘bonus’ to life, then it’s not really the good news any more is it? Just more news and in today’s information saturated world, no-one needs just more news.
How can we develop our packaging organically, maintain clarity and truthfulness to the gospel in our presentations without scaring kids unnecessarily?
5 Ways to Teach Memorably Teach the Good News to Kids from the Easter Accounts
As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with a topical approach, ‘Forgiveness’ or ‘Grace’ or ‘Judgement’.
But I find greater riches for all my listeners, including myself, are found when I focus on the actual Biblical accounts of Jesus around Easter.
To help control and focus my preparation, I zone in on the main ‘movements of the gospel event’. This way I don’t try and do ‘everything’.
What are these ‘movements’?
Jesus came; Jesus suffered; Jesus rose; Jesus Ascended
In each case I ask…so what? Why is this, important?
There’s nothing wrong with sharing the good news at Easter through the stories of Jesus’ ministry. You don’t have to do the crucifixion to be on the money. My first live show for Anton’s Antics was a cracker of a show, it worked all year round, except Christmas. I liked it so much I turned it into a DVD called “Lost and Found”.
You can do the same by focusing on one of the ‘lost and found’ stories in Luke’s gospel. These riddles Jesus’ told and the real-life accounts of people’s lives around those riddles are tutoring us toward the main event of Jesus giving his life to seek and save the lost.
To Seek and Save The Lost
When Jesus toured around the country side leading up to Jerusalem, crowds followed. How's he gonna pick someone out of the crowd? And yet he does, a wretched and despised fellow called Zacchaeus. I chose Zacchaeus because it’s a beautiful story of someone who doesn’t deserve God’s kindness and yet, whom God seeks out and saves.
You might ask…but how does Jesus save him? Do we save ourselves by giving money to the poor or by welcoming criminals into our homes?
What Jesus did by eating with Zacchaeus is the same as what he does for each of us on the cross a few days later. Jesus seeks us out, offers us unconditional forgiveness and the implication is that we will turn from our sinful lives to serve him.
There’s the good news in Zac's account and all within a short stone’s throw of Easter.
Tip: Use the riddles and accounts of people’s lives in Luke 15-19 leading up to Jesus arriving in Jerusalem to talk about Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost. You’ll need to define what being ‘lost’ is to kids. I think of it as, ‘We know that we are guilty of wrong and wish we knew a way to be in right friendship with God’.
Remember I said don’t harp on about the brutality of the crucifixion?
Well…it may sound like a backflip but on the other hand, remember kids love battles, swords, punches, fights, treachery and we have it all in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ mistreatment, trial and execution.
Ok I’m not saying you dwell on the details or use them to emote but just state them plainly, as the gospels do. What happens is the accounts become absolutely riveting and kids feel the sense of injustice automatically. The big question is …why isn’t the truth coming out? Why is Jesus allowed to suffer and die? There lies the sucker punch for the gospel to come out:
Would you like to have a ready built, hassle free Easter with videos, a new song and all the activities you need?
Then check this topic out in my Easter video course 'What's Truth?'
The subject of ‘What is truth?’ Is particularly relevant today. Truth is often dismissed as being ‘relative’.
In the video course, ‘What’s Truth?’ that I built for kid’s ministries to use especially at Easter, I give you all the tools you need to knock this out the park this Easter including videos, a song and teaching resource kit.
you can FREE trial today for a short period of time
He rose (part 1)
Now and empty tomb is…well…empty. So why would we go there? Nothing to see here…move along.
But, while something pretty important is missing (Jesus’ body!) there was also something important still there…what was it?
What is left behind? Grave clothes…the clothes belonging to a dead man.
The question is…why aren’t the clothes of death still on Jesus?
The details of the empty tomb discovery and the accounts that tell us how the events unfolded are worth studying on their own. I created a live show for Anton’s Antics that skips quite briefly over the death of Jesus (just a sentence and a sketch of a hill with a cross in the distance inside one of the disciples thought bubbles actually!) and instead lands squarely on the empty tomb scene. We don’t need the resurrection scene, we don’t need the detailed trial and execution scene. Instead, I just focus on what the discovery in the tomb means.
First, we follow the women then the men to the tomb. I eliminate the false or unsatisfying explanations for Jesus’ empty tomb (e.g. the women went to the wrong tomb; Jesus was resuscitated, disciples stole the body etc.)
When Peter arrives, he discovers the grave clothes of Jesus wrapped up neatly.
What’s the significance?
It tells us the job is done.
Jesus has really died but he is no longer held down by the penalty of death. Consequently, he is not guilty and instead bore our guilt.
If Jesus has left these behind, then he doesn’t need them anymore. A dead man would still be wearing them. The grave clothes have been dispensed with, so that means death and its stranglehold on Jesus is defeated. It means that sin has been conquered because the grave clothes are unsuitable for Jesus.
Key take home: focus on the significance of the grave clothes and eliminate the unsatisfactory explanations for the empty tomb.
Tip: When we leave things behind, its often because we’ve forgotten them. But what if we meant to leave them behind…it means we don’t need them anymore. You could also set up a mock investigation unit to explore and remove the unsatisfying explanations for the resurrection.
He rose (part 2)
A real bodily resurrection…why?
What would Easter be without the real bodily resurrection of Jesus?
Nothing, we wouldn’t be talking about it today.
So how can we present the good news to kids by just focusing on the resurrection?
What I do is follow the disciples and their expectations and reaction to Jesus when he is risen. What this does is highlight their lack of expectation and failure to listen to the promises of Scripture. It also begs the question…will we be any different? Will we let Jesus open our eyes to see how God’s promises have been answered in Jesus dying and rising to life?
Now take Luke 24 for example, verses 13-53...
It’s a long section but a thoroughly memorable story to tell kids about the two disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus. You could tell it through pictures, puppetry, narrated mime, it doesn’t matter, the account is so well constructed, you already have the script.
There’s plenty of fun to be had with Jesus knowing what he was doing and the two disciples being in the ‘dark’ about who he was as they chat and lodge together. As they return to Jerusalem, there’s also plenty of physical evidence to highlight about Jesus being bodily resurrected. He ate, he was touched, he was heard etc.
So far so good, we’ve got lots of proof to support the resurrection and emphasise its importance. However, one thing you may be tempted to overlook is the last paragraph of chapter 24.
Don’t! Here's why...
‘Jesus opened their minds to see how the Christ had to suffer from the Scriptures’.
‘Opened their minds’…
Did you see that?
The Bible says, first, we need our minds opened. It’s not just about presenting the facts or evidence to kids and they will believe. This is spiritual blindness, only God can overcome it. This should first drive us to prayer for all our efforts to share the good news.
Second, and this should not be underestimated…the trustworthiness of the resurrection is based not so much on physical appearances of the risen Jesus, but on the trustworthiness of Scripture that promised it long ago.
If you’re looking to teach Easter through the resurrection this year, you could use the gospels to highlight how Jesus death and resurrection fulfil the OT scriptures. It wasn’t just a fantastic story tacked on the end…instead the death and resurrection were promised and delivered over many many thousands of years.
If you did this, I guess your big idea would be ‘trustworthiness’.
What impact will this have?
The death of Jesus was necessary, not an accident!
It will commend your Easter message as trustworthy…and introduce kids to the reliability of the God we are sharing with them. Who better to trust with your life?
Jesus had to die and rise to life so our sins could be forgiven and have eternal life, while serving Jesus as our king until he returns.
Two final thoughts, including a confession.
I’ve never taught Easter from the ascension of Jesus. Though I think it would be amazing!
So as a way of wrapping up, I thought I’d share some thoughts to encourage you consider it as an option as well.
Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father…why?
How can we experience the benefits of what Jesus has done without him reigning on high? We can’t, we’re still dead in our sins until he breathes new life into us through his spirit.
Teaching Easter from the end point may not be common, but who doesn’t like a happy ending? Who doesn’t want to hear about how much better their life is going to be with Jesus?
All the triumphant talk should also be tempered with realistic expectations that Christ Jesus continues to suffer through his body, the church. I reckon this would be immensely comforting to Christians and churches facing hard times as they reflect on Easter. We go through the Christ event daily, coming together, dying to our old selves, suffering for his name, living the new way of the Spirit and exercising the triumphant gifts of speaking and prophecy.
This leads me to one more final thought to leave you with…
Teach the gospel at Easter through Revelation -why (not)?
A glorious, fearful Jesus is the one we meet in the book of Revelation…you can see why we don’t see him much in kid’s ministry…is this a good thing?
I may be ending on a controversial note, but here goes. The story of the book of Revelation is not just nor primarily the story of the very end of the world…no, it is the story of the gospel…so why shouldn’t we share it at Easter?
Kids have loved the live show and I know this course is going to save your bacon this Easter
Images from Unsplash Collection:
Drowning crucifix: Tim Marshall
Cart alone: Pengs Heng guo
Toothless Tiger: Chandler Cruttenden
Find me benny jack
Tomb: Simon Wood
Crucifix rise: Eberhard Grossgasteiger