How to Talk to Your Kids about Hell

There are a lot of people in the Church today, starting with many pastoral leaders, who aren’t sure what to believe about Hell.  We don’t really hear a lot about Hell in sermon messages these days. Why? Has the topic become too controversial or too confusing for the Church?

And how does this affect our children?

While I don’t condone scare tactics with our kids, I conducted a little impromptu experiment.  Today as I was writing this article, my 9-year -old walked into my office.  He asked what I was writing about and I looked up and told him, “About Hell.” Wide eyed, he looked at me and reminded me I had just used a bad word. “No” I said.  “I’m writing about the place, Hell.”

I asked him what he knew about Hell.  “It’s where you go if you’re bad.”  His response made me realize I had better take the time to further explain God’s rescue plan of Jesus to MY OWN son!

I stopped writing and began a conversation with him about Jesus;  about how none of us were good enough to share an eternity with God, and that the Father sent Jesus down to earth to pay our price (by dying in our place) to get into Heaven so we could have that eternity with Him.  It wasn’t based on how good we are.

“Mom” he asked, “Do good people go to Hell?”  Taking a deep breath, I tried my best to answer his question, without sounding trite or insincere;  because God IS LOVE.  He desires no one to go to Hell.

There are lots of mixed messages right now about Hell and it’s important that our children have a firm grasp of what the Scripture says.

John 3: 16-17, 36: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

It’s also important for our children to understand the urgency of the Gospel and that we reflect that urgency in our own daily lives. Because if we truly believe that there is a Hell and that the saving grace from the sacrifice of Jesus is what ensures us a place in Heaven…then we HAVE to take spreading the Gospel message a little more seriously—and urgently.

Whether it’s through fear, complacency or lack of knowledge, many in the Church are only comfortable being with other saved brothers and sisters.  Let’s face it; talking to the unsaved about Jesus is difficult.  Not because we lack conviction, but because it takes us out of our comfort zone. What if I offend someone? What if I say something Biblically wrong?

Take for instance our Muslim neighbor, who we love having over for coffee, but who we don’t want to offend in matters of faith…how do we start a conversation about Jesus with her?  Thought process: Maybe if my actions are simply Jesus-like enough, she’ll ask me some questions about my faith! Nope—total cop-out.  Because if I believe that Jesus was the only means that kept my nice neighbor out of Hell, I should have a sense of urgency to share the Good News with her!

If your child asked a question about Hell, how would you answer it?  Should the Church have an urgency to talk to people about Hell in order to help save them from going there? Let’s start a dialogue…


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The disturbing reality is that the doctrine stipulates that every human being deserves eternal punishment. We tell this to our kids. That they are so terrible that God believes that an eternity of burning alive is the just punishment. We tell that to 4 and 5 and six year old children. But GOOD NEWS! We can escape this punishment we deserve because their (just) punishment was given to someone else because it had to be given to someone. YOUR sin caused a man to be to tortures to death. I love the person depicted as Jesus on the Bible. But these doctrines are so clearly twisted that we should feel free to believe them if we want, it is cruel to tell this to our children.


My children are very young (3 and 5) but I teach them why Jesus died for us and how much He loves us. How we all sin, examples such as lying, and how hell is for everyone who does not accept Jesus as their Savior. The amazing thing is they will as people if they know what Jesus has done for us all. There is nothing so humbling to see your child wiitness when you did not.

Denise M
Denise M

Okay, since you asked...not only do I teach bible stories during homeschool, I do teach from a catechism. I know that this idea could be foreign to some, but there is absolutely nothing wrong about teaching your child what your church teaches, and to teach it from a young age. There is a place called hell. I teach (what my church teaches) that is a place for those who do not choose God. The Evil One actively seeks to deceive us into thinking that there isn't a place called Hell, but there is. Lisa, I have had the same conversation about the use of the word hell. I don't mind having that convo over and over again. God created us because He loves us. He wants us to be happy with Him in heaven, forever. The gift is ours. It is a gift I want to share. My son's godmother recommended a book called, "The Faith Club" to me. It is about an ex-Catholic turned Episcopal, Muslim and Jewish women and how they got together after 9/11 to create a book for children. It just might be a timely read because of the anniversary, and because of your question, how do we spread the Good News?