Teaching Bible to 10 and 11 year olds is at the same time scary and amazing. It is the last full week of school, and we had pretty much reached the end of our Bible curriculum (and their attention spans), so I decided to do something a little bit different with the class.
Each week they have memory verses to learn, so on Monday I showed them this verse: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” –1 Peter 3:15
After going over the verse, I posed the question to them: “If a friend of yours asked you about God, about Jesus, how would you answer them?”
It’s a question that is worth thinking about whether you are 10 years old or 90. Have you thought about what you believe, and why? Have you thought about how to articulate your faith to another person who doesn’t, at this point, share it?
As my 5th graders tried to wrap their minds around what I was asking, all kinds of answers came to light. Some students quoted scripture; some tried to offer “proof” of God’s existence. 10 and 11 year olds raised on God’s Word can come up with some pretty amazing things to say about Him.
I challenged them to think hard about what they would say. Not everyone will be convinced with proof or scripture (in fact, my opinion is that most people won’t). What has God done in your life? I asked them. Has he answered prayers? Given comfort, friends, peace beyond understanding? I shared some examples from my life where God was made real to me.
Going through the process of thinking through your testimony is a valuable exercise. What experiences have brought you to where you are now in your faith? Who or what introduced you to Jesus and showed you how to have a relationship with Him? How is your life different now as a result?
Later this week, my students will be writing a more formal response to the questions we discussed in class that day. You, too, can write your testimony, the story of your faith, as a way to prepare yourself to give an answer if you are asked about it. Of course, you want to leave room for the Holy Spirit to guide your words in that situation, but most people will stumble over their response if they’ve never thought about it before.
I know that sharing your faith can be a scary thing for many people. Faith is intensely personal, and our society often seems to frown on talking about it, especially if we are perceived as being too pushy or strong in our opinions. At the end of the verse from 1 Peter are these words: “But do this with gentleness and respect.” Also, notice that we are told to be ready to give an answer to someone who asks us the reason for our hope. We can’t push ourselves into a situation and change someone’s heart, no matter how much we might want to do so.
I know for me, that takes off some of the pressure of speaking about my faith. I hope it does for you as well. God is the author of our faith. In our relationship with Him, I believe He will make it clear when we are to share Him with others, too.