There are many different ways to express and proclaim the kerygma - the core apostolic proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. You can find it throughout the New Testament, the documents of the Church, and the writings of the early Church Fathers.
Ultimately, however you express it, the kerygma is about the person of Jesus Christ and someone making a choice to give their lives to Him - to become his disciple.
Children are not exempt from the need to hear the Good News of Jesus in a compelling way. Even at a relatively young age, children have the capacity to
- experience the nearness of God,
- understand the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in a deep and personal way,
- respond to Jesus' invitation into deeper friendship with the Him, and even
- share the Good News with others.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
Kerygma Resources for Children & Youth
We need to not only focus on the evangelization of adults and parents, but need to parallel our efforts by evangelization children. Unfortunately, traditional catechetical materials fall short in helping children encounter the living Christ and in proclaiming the kerygma.
There are a number of resources and tools that we can recommend to help you proclaim the kerygma to children, youth, and teens of all ages. Ultimately, however, the most powerful proclamation of the kerygma - whether it is for an adult, a teen, or a child - is the one that comes from out of your personal encounter with the life-changing power of the person of Jesus. The most effective proclamation tool you have at your fingertips is your answer to this question:
What difference has Jesus made in your life?
Internalizing and living this core apostolic proclamation in your own life must come before any of the resources below can be used with any expectation of fruitfulness.
When we see the movements of the kergyma in our own life stories, we can be nimble enough to share this proclamation in the manner, method, and expression most appropriate to the needs and journey of the person or people in front of us.
(See also: Kerygma Resources for Adults)
Kerygma in the Context of Family
From the newborn who sticks out her tongue after watching Mom do it, to the toddler who snags dad's phone and pretends to send a text, to the child who gathers his friends to play school, children learn best through imitation. It is no different with this initial and fundamental proclamation of the person of Jesus.
The documents and wisdom of the Church reinforce that the best and most fruitful evangelization of children comes from parents who have internalized this proclamation, can recognize the kerygmatic elements of their own life stories and regularly share their moments of encounter and conversion with their children:
"Education in the faith by parents, which should begin from the children's tenderest age, is already being given when the members of a family help each other to grow in faith through the witness of their Christian lives, a witness that is often without words but which perseveres throughout a day-to-day life lived in accordance with the Gospel." (Catechesi Tradendae, 68)
"The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children." (Lumen Gentium, 11)
"The ministry of evangelization carried out by Christian parents is original and irreplaceable. It assumes the characteristics typical of family life itself, which should be interwoven with love, simplicity, practicality and daily witness" (Familiaris Consortio, 53).
Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 71).
Any attempts to share the Good News of Jesus with children will suffer greater difficulties and more obstacles when we are not intentionally evangelizing parents (and grandparents!) and then equipping families to share their witness with one another.
The resources listed below, when used in combination with family formation and evangelizatino, can help children encounter, absorb, and proclaim Jesus. The list below is not exhaustive, but these are a few we have found to be particularly helpful.
PICTURE BOOK - THE GARDEN, THE CURTAIN, AND THE CROSS
BY: CARL LAFERTON AND CATALINA ECHEVERRI
This beautifully illustrated hardback book takes children on a journey from the garden of Eden to God's prefect new creation. The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross is a simple yet profound proclamation of God's Love and Jesus' redemption appropriate for children.
Retelling the Easter story through a Bible overview, children will discover that 'because of our sin, we can't go in' but because of Jesus' victory on the cross, an even better garden awaits us.
Appropriate for any child who enjoys picture books. Makes a great gift for Baptism.
BOOK - DRAGON SLAYERS: THE ESSENTIAL TRAINING GUIDE FOR YOUNG DRAGON SLAYERS
BY: JOYCE DUNHAM
What if sins were dragons and good Christians were dragon slayers? Writing as Sir Wyvern Pugilist, author Denham presents a handbook for brave children to join the “Ancient and Ever-Forgiving Order of Dragon Slayers” headed by the Chief Dragon Slayer, Jesus.
Pugilist’s voice engages kids with its conversational tone and touches of humor while presenting the kerygma through the lens of dragons, knights, weapons, and armor that appeal particularly to action and adventure minded children and youth.
A Study Guide with Resources for Leaders and Teachers Seeking to Train Young Dragon Slayers is designed for both individual and group use.
Appropriate for Elementary and Middle School ages. A support resources for First Reconciliation preparation.
LESSON PLANS - KERYGMA 4 KIDS
BY: ANITA HOUGHTON
Kerygma 4 Kids contains one evangelization lesson for each grade. It was developed to help you incorporate evangelization into your current faith formation program. Each grade-level lesson proclaims the basic gospel message through a unique theme which can be viewed below.
Each grade-level lesson (60 minutes):
- helps children discover God’s personal love for them
- includes guided meditations on Sacred Scripture to help children encounter the risen Christ
- presents an age-appropriate proclamation of the kerygma—the Good News of Christ’s salvific work
- includes animated videos and engaging activities that reinforce the Gospel message
- includes an invitation to open their hearts to a personal friendship with Jesus Christ
- provides the language to help children share the Good News with others
Lessons available for grades K - 8.
VIDEO SERIES - ALPHA FOR YOUTH
An interactive series to help you connect with young people and help them discover and deepen a relationship with Jesus
Alpha for Youth is an high quality, interactive video series (13 episodes over 9 weeks) exploring the basics of the Christian faith geared toward middle and/or high school youth.
The Alpha Youth Series includes:
- 13 episodes (avg 23 minutes each) filmed all over the world (LA, London, Vancouver, New York, Jerusalem and more)
- 3 discussion starters per episode
- Downloadable discussion guide for each episode
SERIES - CCO DISCOVERY STUDY (LEVEL ONE)
BY: CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN OUTREACH
The CCO Faith Study series is a collection of five thematic studies that simply and clearly explain the truths of the faith and practically outline important principles for Catholic living. The strength of these faith studies is in their didactic and intentionality. Their purpose is to bring people to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, leading to a conversion which orients their entire life to God. The leader guide content is comprehensive, easy to understand share and offers practical suggestions on how to lead.
Level One - Discovery is a 6-week study that leads you through a simple but personally challenging look at the Gospel message.
BOOKLET - The Ultimate Relationship
BY: CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN OUTREACH
The Ultimate Relationship provides a simple and easy method for anyone to be able to share the Gospel message in a clear, simple and personal way. It invites the listener to respond in faith to Christ’s invitation to relationship. It takes only minutes to share and is effective in missionary and outreach efforts.
The website includes training videos that demonstrate how to share the Ultimate Relationship Booklet confidently, clearly, and simply.
Appropriate for middle school and high school youth (and adults!).
VIDEO - How He Loves (Spanish)
BY: ViISION MUSIC VIDEO
Discussion Questions to encourage additional conversation or reflection:
- What is one thing you need to let go of in order to be truly happy?
- What ache and hurt do you want to be free of?
- What obstacles do you have in making Jesus the center of your life?
- Do you want this relationship with Jesus?
Appropriate for middle school and high school youth.
VIDEO - Falling Plates
The goal of sharing the video is to start the conversation. So as people interact with you, be ready to engage them in some follow-up questions. Here are a few ideas:
- What was your favorite part?
- Which picture stuck out to you the most?
- What was the most interesting part for you?
- When I saw this, I thought ________. What did you think?
- Have you ever felt like you’re searching for something?
- What do you think you are searching for right now?
- Where are you on the journey of following Jesus?
You probably don’t need to ask more than two. These are merely a way to transition into more spiritual topics
Appropriate for middle school and high school youth.