Great topic - and I like all the answers so far.
My wife and I teach Sunday school for primary school age, and have a 15 year old daughter.
There are heaps of Sunday school curriculum available but we try and cover.
- God created, and we are His creation
- Satan was an angel, but fell because of his pride (we don’t dwell on this too much)
- The Fall: Man and Women were created in God’s image, but also decided to ‘go their own way’. Link this to ‘doing your own thing’
- Jesus was perfect, and that we can accept him by faith, and make as clear as possible the substitutionary atonement of Jesus taking our place and we deserve death. Make clear it’s a gift being offered, and we can receive it. We can choose to accept or reject a gift. We use the Romans Road most years at least once.
I’ve used this one in the past ‘The Bridge’ - showing Us, God, Sin, and Jesus as the bridge between us and God.
If we are looking at an Old Testament passage, story or anything in the New Testament, we always try to point towards Jesus. For example, we see flaws in the characters in the Old Testament, and we show they are sinners just like us, and need Jesus.
I also like the passage that Jesus said, unless we are humble and become like children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
We are very careful not to solicit a premature confession of faith by children - so they think they are saved because they prayed a prayer, but always offer an invitation to ask more questions of us or parents later if they want. It’s quite interesting during craft time the conversation that is had after a lesson - the kids are relaxed and kind of ‘debrief’ around the table, and they often ask simple but very often not that simple questions about what has been talked about in the lesson.
I like Andy Stanley explaining John 3:16 for kids. God loves, God gave, We believe, We receive.
As my daughter has gotten older, we discuss what we call ‘God’s design is best’ - in relation to gender, marriage, sex and sexuality, wise use of time and money, kindness, giving is better than receiving - but at all times we stress the unconditional love of God shown through the person of Jesus who ‘loved us and gave himself for us’, and who rose again on the third day. Because of Jesus, we can be made right with God. God is always, always willing to restore the relationship with us because of Jesus Christ, no matter how much sin we fall into. We don’t have to run away, and hide and ‘fix ourselves’ or turn over a new leaf before we come back to God. We cannot earn favour of God by doing good things - unconditional love by definition is exactly that. And we are clear that we are just as much a sinner as she is, broken and in need of Jesus.
We also are trying to teach her how to think, not what to think. We describe the idea of boundaries and responsibilities. The more responsible we are as we grow, the bigger our boundaries become. A small child has very tight boundaries put in place by parents who know that (for example) touching a heater will burn them, or sticking a fork in a power socket will kill them. You cannot explain electricity to a 2 year old - you can only put a boundary in place for their safety. As we move towards adulthood - boundaries are still there but they are still much broader. Laws of the road, laws regarding taxation etc etc. As we become adults, we move out from the authority of parents, to the authority of the laws of the land, and of course the authority of God, our Creator.
We watched Andy Stanley’s message series ‘Guardrails’ as a family: http://northpoint.org/messages/guardrails