If you’re a Christian, teaching your kids about the history of Christians who’ve come before us might seem like a no-brainer.
After all, historic Christians are family, right? And we all want our kids to be able to observe character through the lives of faithful Christians. Maybe we even want our families to learn about some massive mistakes Christians have made throughout history. It’s a lot easier to see where poor doctrine leads when we look back than it is to guess where it may lead looking forward.
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I asked my fourteen-year-old son how studying Christian history at home has impacted his life. Here’s what he had to say: “It’s introduced me to theology. It’s obviously introduced me to the lives of the Christians we’ve studied. It’s helped me to realize that they are imperfect as well. It’s been interesting me to study the heretics. When I hear a heresy now, I know how old that heresy is and where it came from. And I know what the name of the heresy is. Historic Christians, like Augustine and John Bunyan and Polycarp encourage me to live for God by the way they lived their lives, and to see what they did. It’s cool.”
Teach Christian History at Home
Ok. So, we want to teach Christian history… but how? Let’s be honest–most of us aren’t well versed in the history of the Christian Church. And how can we teach Christian history in a way that makes it something our kids want to learn?
Take a deep breath! Kids love stories, and Christian history is a series of fascinating stories. I’m going to give you three ways you can teach Christian history. I’ll suggest some great resources, and I’ll even give you a discussion guide to get you started! You can start teaching Christian history in your home by the time your kids are in preschool, and you can ramp it up as they grow–by the time your kids leave home, they’ll have a good understanding of not only Christian history, but also of theology, doctrine, heresies, character, and world history!
1) Teach Christian History at Home Through Literature
One of my favorite ways to teach Christian history at home is through literature. Age-appropriate biographies and historical fiction are wonderful and can be used as family read-alouds. I love that reading these books to our children allows us to have engaging discussions.
One of my children actually had a significant heart change when we read Pilgrim’s Progress, then read the story of John Bunyan. Bunyan was a difficult child, opposed to Christ and the Church. Once saved, he spent years in prison for preaching the gospel. This testimony made a tremendous impact on my son. He asked to be baptized after we finished the biography.
Literature is a wonderful way to share the history of the Christian faith through story. It can be non-confrontational and engaging, but highly educational. In fact, that’s why I wrote When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther as historical fiction. I wanted to tell Luther’s important story in a way that would engage teens, helping them to feel his story, rather than just learn the facts.
Excellent Christian History Literature
Check out our ENORMOUS list of Living History Books for Kids.
2) Teach Christian History at Home Through Chronological History Books
Another great way to teach Christian history is by reading through chronological history books with your kids.
Overviews of Christian history give children context to help them understand how all of Christian history ties together. Kids will start to understand how the Church ties into history, and where the historical figures and events they’ve learned about through biographies and historical fiction fit into the broader context.
Chronological Christian history books are best used with middle grade students and teens. You’ll want to start these after 4th grade.
Great Christian History Overview Books
3) Teach Christian History at Home Through Research and Writing
Once your children are in middle and high school, teaching them Christian history can take on deeper dimensions. Your older kids can begin to research Christian history and take notes about what they’re learning.
There are a number of benefits to having your older children research Christian history. Not only will they learn to research and take notes, they will delve deep into the roots of the Christian Church. Your kids will have a deeper understanding of denominations, modern lines of thought, doctrine, and theology than most adults!
Another benefit to individual research is that your kids will learn about Christians not always covered in overview texts or in individual biographies. There have been faithful Christians all over the world who have made an impact for Christ. Those individuals are worth learning about, even if they aren’t normally studied in overviews of the Christian Church.
Cobblestone Path™ Church History Research Journals are one way to facilitate research into the history of the Christian Church. Laid out in a chronological manner, the journals take teens through the major people, events, documents, and heresies of the history of our faith. Students will do research on each topic or individual, then take notes about what they’ve learned.
Teaching your kids about Christian history is important, and it can be fun! You can easily work it into your daily routine, and you can start today.
Right now you can download a copy of the discussion guide for When Lightning Struck!. The book is written for teens, but you can pair it as a read aloud and use it with your family from age 8 and up.