Previously I said that we need to start talking about salvation from the earliest age, if only to make it a part of our family vocabulary and that helping our children to accept Jesus at a young age is wonderful provided we continue to help them maintain their decision as they grow up. But what can we do practically to help them understand what it means to be a Christian? I would suggest learning a very simple tool called “The Bridge” which has been used in evangelism for a LONG time and is still very effective in visually explaining what it means to become a Christian. Showing this to your kids will both reinforce what being a Christian is but will also teach them a valuable tool for explaining their decision to their friends. There are scripture passages that go along with the story of The Bridge and they would be valuable to memorize as a family (and different version use different passages, there is nothing wrong with substituting passages or translations – they are just the ones I am currently using.)
The story goes like this:
Part One – In The Beginning
“When God created the world He made people last and it was awesome! Adam and Eve were the first people and they lived in the Garden of Eden and God often came and visited them there. Can you imagine meeting with God just like we are sitting and talking right now? Incredible!”
At this point you draw two stick people (Adam and Eve, who I always joke are naked) and God (I used a cloud to represent God.)
“Families are very important to God and Adam and Eve were part of His family. What are some things that a good dad gives his kids? What are some benefits to being in a family?” (They will answer, money – of course, love, safety, food, care, hugs, reading stories… and all that!) “That’s right! And the same great things that a healthy family has today is what Adam and Eve had with their Heavenly Father in the Garden of Eden.”
Part Two – Something Went Wrong
“But then something went wrong. Have you ever done something that you know you shouldn’t do?” (Yes… of course they have. Things like lying, or fighting, or stealing.) “How did that change your relationship with your mom and dad and your brothers and sisters?” (They didn’t want to play with me. It made mommy mad. I had consequences.) “Well Adam and Eve did something that they shouldn’t have done. They disobeyed God and there were very serious consequences as well, in fact they had to leave the Garden where they could be very close to God and a great big hole formed between them and God. This hole is called sin.”
Draw two cliff edges and write sin in the gap.
“The Bible says in Isaiah 59:2 that ‘It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.’ This was very sad and there were even much greater consequences because when Adam and Eve sinned something died inside of them. When you disobey at home do you sometimes feel bad on the inside? Sometimes you might even feel like your stomach is in big knots because you know did something really wrong that you are going to be in trouble for and that is going to hurt your mom and dad’s feelings. That is a little bit what it was like when Adam and Eve sinned, something died inside them. Since Adam and Eve first sinned everyone has been born with this great big separation from God and dead on the inside, this is what Romans 3:23 means when it says, ‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’ And Romans 6:23 tells us that when we sin we earn death.” (I usually explain here that when mom or dad works we get paid in money, that is what we earn, it is our wage and that it would really suck to work for death! And we all have a good laugh until I say that this is exactly what we earn when we choose to disobey.) (And sorry I had Romans 5:23 originally – that was a typo but it’s still on the graphics.)
Part Three – God’s Rescue Plan
“So this looks pretty bad doesn’t it? But God didn’t like it either. He knew that sinful, disobedient people couldn’t live with Him, but He also knew that they were dead on the inside and couldn’t fix that problem – it was just too big for a human being to fix! So Jesus did an amazing, incredible thing! He sent His very own Son, Jesus to earth to one day die on a cross and pay for all that sin! Remember when we sin, we earn death. But how can you pay for that? Jesus died to pay for the death that we earned. He paid for it even though He didn’t have to and even though we didn’t deserve it. He just loves us that much. This is what Titus 3:5a means when it says, ‘he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…’
“So Jesus became the bridge between us and God!”
Draw a cross that spans the gap.
“This is what John 14:6 means when it says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to the father unless they believe in Him!”
Part Four – But You Have To Choose
“Ah but this is the thing…when people are born they are always born on this side of the gap, away from God and dead on the inside, every person must choose to walk over the bridge to God. This is a very important decision because if you die on this side of the gap it means that you will be separated from God for forever. You can’t change your mind after you die. That is why it is so important to choose to obey God and cross the bridge. It will make you feel alive on the inside now but it also means that after you die you will live with God for forever in Heaven. This is also why we care a lot about people who don’t know Jesus yet or who know about Him but don’t want to obey Him, we need to pray for them, and if we get the chance, to tell them about how amazing it is to obey Jesus and be alive on the inside!
“And do you know how to cross the bridge to God? It is very simple! Romans 10:9 says ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ It is just that simple! This is what John 17:3 means when it says, ‘And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.’ “
And that’s it! I have used the bridge diagram in one form or another to lead many, many people to Jesus throughout my life, it really is an effective tool! I hope that you find it helpful as well!
The verses I use are:
- Isaiah 59:2
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 6:23
- Titus 3:5
- John 14:6
- Romans 10:9
- John 17:3
I used the NLT for the verses above but if your kids are younger GW or CEV are two very easy to understand translations as well.