When children or teens take a class in school, there are often vocabulary words that are part of the curriculum. Teachers find various ways to teach these words, because they know that without that knowledge, their students will struggle to succeed in the subject. Yet, thousands of young people go through years of Bible classes with little real explanation of vocabulary definitions – other than perhaps definitions that are almost as confusing as the word.
Christian vocabulary words are tricky because young people can use them properly in sentences without having a clue what they actually mean. Or they can quote those ”cute” definitions and still not be able to tell you what the word means in their own words. Add the confusion created when writers use many of the words in books and other contexts with little or no understanding of the real meaning of the word. How can young people know what they believe, when they don’t even understand what half of the words they are using mean? More importantly, how can they live out their mission to share their faith when they can’t explain terms in ways the average person can understand?
So what words should young Bible students learn and at what ages? We’ve listed below some words to get you started. They should be explained and activities done to help students master them as early as they begin being used in their Bible classes and no later than elementary school. Remember, even the most faithful attenders will miss class some weeks, so key vocabulary words should be regularly reviewed every year.
Here is our list of vocabulary words to get you started: abide, anoint, apostle, ascension, atonement, baptism, bless, body of Christ, born again, Christian, communion, condemn, confession, conversion, covenant, crucifixion, disciple, evangelize, faith, fasting, fellowship, forgiveness, glory, gospel, grace, Great Commission, Greatest Commands, guilt, Heaven, Hell, holiness (holy), Holy Spirit, hypocrite, inspired, justification, Law, love, Messiah, ministry, miracle, parable, pray, prophet (prophesy), ransom, reconcile, redemption, repent, resurrection, righteousness, sacrifice, sanctify, Savior, sin, temptation, transformation, Trinity, Word of God, worship.
This list doesn’t include people, places and things which may also be unfamiliar to your students. Be very careful where you get your definitions as even Christian resources can be incorrect about terms like baptism. Some words have one meaning in the secular world and another definition in Christianity. When in doubt, check with your congregation’s ministers or elders to clarify the meaning. Many have access to study aides using the original Hebrew or Greek words that can clarify words like ”baptism” (which according to the original word means only total immersion).
In our next post, we will give you some fun ways to help young students learn and remember vocabulary words.