Faith Development in Early Elementary Students

Younger children in this age group trust God in the same way they trust adults in their lives. They talk about God as their Father and Jesus as God’s Son, but they still confuse God and Jesus. Older children begin to understand the difference between God the Father and Jesus; some add the concept of the Holy Spirit to their base of knowledge.

Sin and Forgiveness

Children in this age group express their love for Jesus and know that He died on the cross to forgive their sins. However, they often have trouble identifying the sin in their own lives and lack true repentance. They consider actions to be wrong only when punished. Because they think in concrete terms and not abstract, they can apply the “letter of the law” but not the “spirit of the law.” Therefore, we focus on simple, clear messages from God’s Word, messages that do not require complex thought.


Model prayer so students feel comfortable praying aloud. Don’t limit prayer time to just one or two specific times during your class. Pray as the need arises. Silent prayer, group prayer, memorized prayers, and popcorn prayers can all be utilized to make children aware of the variety of ways we can talk to God.
Younger children are more egocentric than older ones. Older children often pray for others first and then pray for themselves. Although early elementary children have trouble recognizing their own sinfulness, when they do see their sin they pray for forgiveness and ask others to forgive them. They need to hear that they are forgiven for their wrongs. They pray for those who don’t know Jesus, especially for those who are family members.

Bible Reading

With their love of information, some students might possess almost as much Bible knowledge as the teacher. For others, the teacher might be their first introduction to God and His love in Jesus.
Early elementary students ought to have access to Bibles and learn how to look up specific passages. They need opportunities to read from the Bible itself. Encourage them to read their Bibles at home with their families as well.

Teach early elementary students about God's word with Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum for Sunday school and midweek.

Preview Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum

Adapted from Building Faith One Child at a Time, pages 139–40, 145–46 © 1997, 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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