4 Jul 2016
Often we find it hard to talk about heaven with children because it reminds us of death and a whole range of uncomfortable topics that our children don’t engage with often. But the Bible holds out Heaven as the greatest hope we can offer our children:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” - Rev 21:3
Let’s talk to our children about heaven
Death is real and it’s not the end - Heaven is a real place and it matters. As Christians we have an answer to death. Jesus wanted us to understand heaven so that we would grasp this comfort and have hope throughout life’s experiences. But our children are not the only ones who benefit from these discussions; it will help them to grasp the urgency of telling those they love.
Let’s talk carefully about heaven
Children find it hard to think of abstract things so they find it hard to be excited by talk of “forever”, “a new creation” or “the end of sadness”; helping them see that heaven is a real place is essential. It’s a real place that they can imagine, draw and talk about. If we use the right language they can look forward to heaven as they would look forward to the big summer holiday.
We have found that the three most accessible descriptions of Heaven in the Bible are
1. The home where they will belong (John 14: 1-4). The home where they will belong perfectly, where they will be known completely and where they will finally feel able to rest completely with the one who loves them most.
2. The party where they will be loved (Luke 14: 15-23). The party that is so good that they will be amazed to have been invited, so thankful that they said “yes” to the invitation and so thrilled that it will never end. This party will not end in tears of frustrated tiredness!
3. The place where they will be happy (Rev 21: 1-5). The place is real, where the grass will tickle their toes, where the wind will be fresh on their faces and the shouts of joy will be all they hear.
In all three of these descriptions, living with their Lord will be the absolute highlight of Heaven. As we talk about heaven we would love our children to be primarily excited about living with Jesus Christ and with other Christians forever.
Let’s talk throughout everyday situations about heaven
Usually conversations about Christian things happen as responses to situations. Three moments in life that you can use as ways to bring up the topic of heaven and daydream together are:
- Something really good happens. You’re on your way back from a great party or a brilliant family day out… How much greater will heaven be? How will it be better? What are they looking forward to?
- Something bad/hard happens. You’re helping your child cope at school with hard relationships or you’re talking about the illness of a loved one… We want to start by helping our children to see Christ with them and in charge of the difficulty, however severe. Then, we can end these conversations with hope - by thinking about heaven together, as the place where these difficulties will finally be gone.
- When we think about death. A loved grandparent has just died or they are wondering about death... This is a great place to talk about what happens after death - it isn’t the end! For Christians it means going to a wonderful place. For Christians death is just the doorway to a better place with the Lord they have longed to be with. The very real sadness we feel is because we are no longer in the same place as the loved one we have lost.
Most parents are surprised that their children talk about Heaven with complete joy and simplicity. Children do not usually have the same fear of death as we do, so there is a straight forward hope for them in Heaven. For them, after conversations about Heaven, it becomes the place that is their real hope, their greatest thrill and their final home. Jesus commended children for their simple, wholehearted faith; when we talk with children about Heaven, we may well learn from them how to look forward to never-ending time with our Lord.