Explaining the trinity to a child can be a challenge. I’m here to help with my trinity teaching tips!
The word “trinity” does not occur in the Bible. This has been a problem for centuries. Disagreements about it have caused church splits, denominational arguments, and even people to be burned at the stake.
Even though the term “trinity” does not appear in the Bible, the description of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is there repeatedly throughout the text. Belief in the Trinity has become a standard of Christianity since Tertullian first used it in the year 170 and was made part of the Nicene Creed in 325.
Trying to explain something so mysterious has probably been one of the historical reasons for disagreements between adults so attempting to explain the trinity to a child may seem overwhelming. However, it can be done!
The Trinity – How It Applies To Us
Although I am not a Hebrew scholar, I have sat in many classes and Bible studies with people who are.
There are repeated references in the Bible where God is plural. So even though in English the word is God, those who read Hebrew see it as a plural noun.
Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he said the Comforter (third member of Trinity) would come (John 14:16).
So God – Elohim – the Father created the world and spoke in the plural. Jesus came to earth in human form to tell us about God’s love and salvation.
Jesus explained that God sent him to save the world from sin. If we believe in him we won’t perish but have eternal life (To Nicodemus John 3:16).
Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. He directed the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come.
When He came, they were filled with the spirit and went out to preach the gospel to every nation.
So there we have the Trinity. All God. All at once. Each having a different role but still three in one.
Best Age To Teach The Trinity To A Child
When a child is able to distinguish that a conversation equates Jesus with God and asks questions about it, it is a good time to explain – as simply as possible – about the trinity.
Like anything else, remember that most kids are usually looking for a simple answer, so it’s best to keep the explanation short and to the point (how to teach a child to pray).
An exercise with water is what did it for me and it makes perfect sense. The more we know about science and the way the world works.
Water or H2O. H2O is familiar to all of us. It is even familiar in its three different forms.
We know it as a solid (ice), as a liquid (water) and as a gas (steam).
Kids know this too and can understand that although it can take 3 forms it is still H2O. For me the beauty of this example is that it even fits the expressions of God in a very simplistic way.
Jesus would be the solid form, the disciples saw him and touched him. Jesus was physically present.
Water is a bit different. While we can see it and touch it, it moves where it will and cannot be contained. Even if we have a bowl of water, water is everywhere else too.
In rivers, lakes, in raindrops, waterfalls, oceans. Always in motion and everywhere at once (read how to teach the salvation prayer to kids).
Then there is steam. Yes we can see it sometimes but usually it is invisible and spirit-like. Now these are just my own imaginings and interpretations but the main point is that H2O is three things at once.
It is still H2O everywhere, always and forever. Just like God
5 Ways To Explain The Trinity To A Child – 5 Mini-Lessons
1. Create A Diagram For Coloring
Triangle Example – A triangle is one shape but has three important corners. It takes all three to make a whole triangle.
I’ve made this version printable so you can use it at home. There are verses associated with each part of triangle (click here for a free printout).
2. Shamrock and St. Patrick
In the fourth century St. Patrick went to Ireland as a missionary. The legend of St. Patrick teaching the Irish about God tells of how he picked a shamrock.
Since the shamrock has three small leaves he described God as being “one” but having three parts. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
>> read my long list of things to pray for
The whole plant represents the Trinity. Color page can be printed and colored. This drawing is from a stained glass window in St Nicholas Church, Belle River, MN (click here for a printable pdf)
3. Read Bible Verses About The Trinity
- Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth…’
- Matthew 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.
- Luke 3:22 And a voice from heaven said You are my Son, whom I love and with whom I am well pleased.
- Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!
>> read Psalms for children
4. Sing a Song About The Trinity
Using songs to teach children is a tried and true strategy that works. Children learn quickly by “doing” and an active learning environment can help them learn and remember the trinity.
The video below is The Trinity Song from Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization that I’ve worked with for a long time. I recommend playing this at home for a few days to let it sink in and then review the song and the lyrics afterward.
5. Share A Trinity Lesson About H2O
Bring ice, water and hot pot for boiling water. Discuss the way in which scientists name compounds in nature and water is called H2O.
Let the children touch or hold ice, pour water in and out of cups then watch the water go into the air to demonstrate the different properties of each.
Then talk about God being in 3 forms also.
Discuss the ways in which each form has a unique role to play in our lives. Don’t forget to mention we cannot survive without water.
Very often we complicate things when actually simplicity works just fine. Just as Patrick plucked a clover from the ground to explain the trinity to pagan people in Ireland or the way that my father explained water to me, God provides plenty of examples if we just look around.
While most things of God are a mystery, he does want us to know about himself and he especially wants children to know and to learn early.
In this article I have shared lessons from my past, and a few new methods you may want to use to teach. Children can color a saint, learn about science, use geometry, sing and listen to God’s word.
The Holy Trinity of God is miraculous and beyond our earthly understanding. But his word is available to us and the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised guides us into wisdom and understanding.