As adults, we understand the concept of Heaven, but how do we explain to a child what Heaven is? Children may question; where is Heaven? What is Heaven? What do people do in Heaven? Although, the questions are simple, the answers can be complex. When I was 5 years old, my aunt sat me down with an illustrated Bible and explained to me the concept of Heaven. I have never forgotten that lesson. The following suggestions are based on the lesson she taught me that day. To explain the concept of heaven you may; Use an illustrated children’s Bible, or explain an analogy of things that are unseen versus things that are seen.
Illustrated Children’s Bible
A child’s mind is filled with imagination, but how can they imagine what Heaven is like, if they do not know what it is? There are various illustrated children’s Bibles available that put things in perspective for a child. There is a saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” especially, to a child.
Children enjoy drawings and pictures, because they cater to their visual and perception senses. Their reading skills are not developed enough to sit down, read a Bible, and understand it. However, if there is a picture available that illustrates the concept of Heaven, while it is being explained to them, their young minds put both together and are able to formulate an understanding.
If an illustrated Bible is not available, then draw pictures for the child with illustrations of Heaven on Earth or what is known as the New Jerusalem, as described in the Bible. Draw a street of gold with a river flowing next to it, and include in the picture, a tree with different fruits on it. You may add pictures of people walking the street, picking fruit, or playing alongside.
It can be explained to them that in Heaven God, Jesus, and angels live.
With these illustrations, we explain to the child what Heaven is, what it may look like, and what people do in Heaven. The child will understand that Heaven is a place where people live with God and Jesus, happily.
Relevant Bible Verses
21:21 The main street of the city is pure gold, like transparent glass.
22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
22:2 flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations.
Analogy of Things Unseen
After showing a child what Heaven could look like, he may ask, “why cannot we see Heaven if there are people there right now?” This is a very logical question. It can be explained with an analogy of things seen versus things unseen.
At a young age, children understand concepts surrounding their everyday life. They understand that they can feel a breeze when the wind blows, even though they cannot see it. Reiterate to the child that wind cannot be seen, but it does exist. Once they understand it, add that Heaven, like the wind, although not seen, also exists in another part of our Universe.
Depending on the age of the child, this could be a good time to explain what happens when a person dies. Some like to say, the person is resting, others say, the person is sleeping, while some say, the person died. This is a personal choice and a topic on its own. You may add that while we are alive, we cannot see Heaven, but when we die, we get to see it and live in it.
This analogy can help answer the question, where is Heaven? The child will understand that Heaven is unseen by the living, but existent, and that those that have passed on, not only get to see Heaven, but they live there and that is their new home.
Relevant Bible Verses
11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies,
11:26 and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.
4:18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For preschool children, the use of the Illustrated Bible, or drawings is the best and most appropriate approach. At this age, they learn from visual input and assimilation. For early elementary children, the concept of Heaven can be enhanced by the analogy of things seen versus things unseen. At this age, they are curious about how things work, and understand explanations that use simple analogies.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You know his/hers capabilities and levels of understanding. The suggestions above are, just that, suggestions. If you feel they can help you explain the topic to your child, then incorporate them into your lesson, by following the above guidelines. Please, feel free to modify or adapt them to what you know your child will be capable of understanding, or tailor it to your beliefs and convictions.