You have most likely heard the exhortation, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time.”

Teaching a man to fish means training a person to live by faith. We agree that to properly disciple people, we must challenge their faith and see them work out their salvation through personal experience Christ.

Children are people. If we give them inspiration through the Bible stories but no challenge to write their own story, we inoculate them from the passion and risk of knowing Christ. He is like a Disney character doing amazing things on the pages of the Bible. They certainly say they love him but is that love out of personal interaction? Nemo might not be the best comparison, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the little cartoon fish. If I were kid, could I not say “I love him?” because I feel affection for a character that has evoked my response but is a fantasy figure?

Faith does not work for us adults because we read someone else’s story. It is our stay because we have been writing our own stories. Faith works when we use it for works. Or it is dead. (James 2:20)

It is the same for kids. If we are giving kids fish (stories of others’ faith) but not handing them the pole, line and hook, faith can be fantasy. They live the lifestyle now in church and in the home but it will serve no purpose when life gets “real” in teen years. They must be challenged now to use what they have in faith to know if what they truly have is faith in Christ who is not seen but can be counted on to work.

Bible stories are the history of faithful heroes we will someday meet. Character lessons are good and reinforce the good teaching of parents and teachers. So as kids sit and listen, give them fish. But teach your kids to fish—to write their own story by following God’s voice. Challenge them to tell what they hear. Show them how to lay hands on the sick and to believe for supernatural answers to prayer. Jesus did this for His disciples. He said, “Follow me and I will make (mentor) you to be fishers of men.”