Faith Development in Upper Elementary Students

Upper elementary students like to talk about their faith and discuss issues that bother them. They are adept at listening to the opinions of others, and peers can often answer their questions as clearly as the teacher is able. They want to know how to apply their faith to everyday situations.


Meaningful worship is important to upper elementary students. When congregations offer children’s sermons, these students often see themselves as too old for that message. They are aware of those who don’t know Jesus, and they demonstrate concern for their salvation. They are eager to learn ways they can comfortably share their faith with others.

Sin and Forgiveness

Although students still have a need for fairness in their lives, they are becoming better able to grasp the concept of Law and Gospel. They like to identify ways God works in people’s lives today, and they can apply basic Law and Gospel concepts to national and local news stories. They are better able to see their own sin than when they were younger. Because of this, forgiveness becomes more meaningful.

Bible Reading

Many upper elementary students are motivated to read the Bible on their own. Some teachers design at least part of the Bible time for silent Bible reading for both students and teacher. Other teachers assist students in organizing a reading plan to do on their own time. It’s helpful for students to choose a book of the Bible they’d like to read—best to start with a short one that lends itself to success—and divide it into manageable sections. The children need to hear that everyone can get distracted from this goal at times and that failing to meet a Bible reading goal doesn’t make them a failure. It provides an opportunity to attempt it again!


The prayers of upper elementary students are less egocentric and materialistic than those of younger children, but they still expect a quick answer to prayer. Most can identify that God answers prayers with yes, no, or wait, but they have difficulty accepting a no or a wait response to their own lives. Those who come from a praying background can pray extemporaneously; others prefer a printed prayer when it is their turn to lead the class.

Build Bible literacy with upper elementary students using the Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum for Sunday School and Midweek. 

Preview Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum

Post adapted from Building Faith One Child at a Time, pages 159–60, 165–66 © 1997, 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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