The Apostles’ Creed is a great tool to teach children about God, what we know to be true about him and the promises he makes to his people. The structure in which the Creed is written–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–also provides a helpful framework for children to understand the Trinity. But teaching the creed sounds challenging, right? The language alone might make the creed feel like too much to tackle with concrete learners like preschoolers and younger elementary students. But I really like the flexibility the Apostles’ Creed offers to bring in different teaching components that help to engage kids of various ages and learning styles. So continue reading as I share some creative ways to teach the Apostles’ Creed at your church, even with younger ones. (You may also watch this short video on this same topic).
You might first be wondering, “Where do I start?” Thankfully, an excellent resource already exists for teaching the Apostles’ Creed available from the PCA Bookstore (which is part of the complete Building Little Pillars curriculum available in print or digitally). The creed is broken down into 18-lesson units (plus introduction) that concentrate on one phrase of the creed at a time.
Now let me share a few of my favorite tips and ideas for how you can supplement this teaching to help kids engage with the truths of the creed…
The first is singing! Song is a great way to teach kids the words of the creed. A former member of my church set the creed words to music–it’s an incredibly catchy tune! This Apostles’ Creed Song is available for purchase (with a small donation) at amypardo.bandcamp.com. Children learn the song over a few months, a verse at a time. At the end of the year, our students sing the creed song during the worship service as an offertory. This is a great way for children to serve and share what they’re learning with the rest of the congregation. You might also consider adding a theme song for each portion of the creed, selecting from among your congregation’s worship songs to help children connect what’s taught in class with your service.
Another way to help kids remember the words of the creed is through movement by teaching them hand motions. I suggest teaching motions for a few words for each part or line of the creed. At my church, we use ASL signs, but you can also make up your own motions. For example, “believe” (one hand touches forehead then clasp hands together) and “Almighty” (raise fisted hands and rock back and forth) are the motions we teach for the first line of the creed. Illustrations of all our signs are printed on a poster in the classroom as a cheat-sheet for teachers, since we have many individuals who rotate through teaching in class.
Visual aids are also helpful in teaching children the Apostles’ Creed. My church has a “creed wall” hanging in the classroom that’s a poster with the words of the creed. Each week students add words or “bricks” to build the wall, marking their progress and visually demonstrating how as the creed teaches us more about God it strengthens our faith. As we introduce each new section of the creed, we talk about the Trinity and God as three in one as students assemble a Trinity poster, comprised of symbols for Father, Son, Holy Spirit and arrows that represent the relationship between them.
My favorite method for creatively teaching the Apostles’ Creed is through projects and object model lessons. My church includes a discovery, music or service-oriented project when teaching each portion of the creed. For example, students create scales for the “Come to Judge” unit and talk about God’s right judgment and his mercy. When learning about the Holy Spirit, children create small figures of themselves (with popsicle sticks and binder clips) then draw a path on a paper plate that represents their path through life. Dragging a magnet on the underside of the plate moves the figure along the path, reminding children how the Holy Spirit guides us as we live out our faith. To help children think about Jesus’ sacrifice for them, we include several music lessons with listening and movement activities using songs with different tones and tempos to reflect on Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. In teaching about “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints”, we talk about how Christians are one church united together, both in our own congregation but also around the globe. To understand this better, students learn about the specific missionaries our church supports, hearing about where they live, how they build and serve the larger church in these far away places, and how we can be praying for their ministry.
I hope you found these ideas helpful. I highly encourage you to teach through the Apostles’ Creed with the children at your church.