How do I explain the concept of the Trinity to my child?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

It’s easy as a parent to feel overwhelmed by questions about the Trinity, because we have a hard time understanding it for ourselves.  When we talk about the Trinity, Scripture presents two truths that may at first seem to contradict.  Over and over again the Bible tells us there is one God (Mark 12:32).  At the same time, Scripture describes three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (look now at Matthew 28:19, where a person is to be baptized into one name, but all three persons are mentioned as that one name that a person is to be baptized into).  

   “Each member of the Trinity works together for one purpose by contributing different functions.  We see this in Creation:  as the Father speaks, the Son creates, and the Holy Spirit hovers over the water (see Genesis 1 and John 1:1-3).  The same is true with salvation as the Father plans to save sinners, the Son out of loving obedience to his Father comes to die as our substitute, and the Holy Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son to reveal their need and draw sinners to believe in the Son.  We see both unity and diversity existing in perfect harmony in the person of God (see also 2 Corinthians 13:14 & Ephesians 2:18).

Things to think about

In communicating the Trinity to your child, there are three points you want to get across:

- The Unity of God.  You want to clearly help them understand there is only one God.  There are not lots of different gods or three Gods, there is just one.  Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:35 and Mark 12:32 are helpful to make this point.

- The Diversity of God.  Explain to your child that there are three persons;  that each are unique and different from one another.  God the Father is not the Holy Spirit or the Son.  Neither is the Son the Holy Spirit or the Father.  They are each different persons that have always existed as different persons and One God.  Take a look at Matthew 3:16-17 and notice how each person is there, but they all are performing different functions.

- The Mystery of God.  Too often we want to try and rationalize everything about our faith.  We’re afraid that if we don’t have a good illustration our kids won’t buy it.  But all illustrations fall short of describing God’s person.  Children are much more likely to embrace mystery and awe in our world and with God as well.

So here’s a good definition.  There is One God.  He exists as three persons:  the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Each person is different from the other.  They exist as One God.

As you give them the definition above and they respond, “Wow, that’s hard to understand,” don’t respond with fear or anxiety. Instead just say, “I know, isn’t that pretty amazing that God is so awesome?   There is no one and nothing like Him.”

What do I do now?

This just begins the conversation!   Take a look at some of the Scriptures noted above together and notice God’s oneness and diversity in each.   As you gain new insight about the Trinity for yourself, be quick to share with your kids-not as a way to prove something, but as a way to reveal how you are growing to understand more about our God as well.

Want to go deeper?

For additional resources about this topic and ways to continue the conversation with your kids check out the following books:

        Big Truths for Young Heartsby Bruce A. Ware

        Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Trinity by Joey Allen