Book review: Show Them Jesus

  • Tim Zulker
  • 25 May 2015

Show Them JesusShow Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids by Jack Klumpenhower
New Growth Press, 2014, 214 pages

What its about

Show Them Jesus is a book about why kids need to be taught the gospel, and how to do that. Here’s an outline of the book:

Why teach the Good News?

  • Because Jesus is everything we need

  • Because the good news is like nothing else

  • Because the good news is for church kids too

  • Because the good news changes hard hearts

  • Because the good news is the Bible’s theme song.

How to teach the Good News:

  • Teaching the good news from the New Testament

  • Teaching the good news beyond lesson time

  • Teaching the good news into all of life

  • Teaching the good news through prayer

  • Making the good news your hope.

Who its for

Show Them Jesus is written for Christians who teach and disciple children and teens. This means it’s for Sunday School teachers, parents, youth group leaders, Christian School teachers, mentors, and more. But the value of this book in explaining how to teach the gospel is so significant that it should be read by preachers and those who do any kind of discipleship or teaching. I would recommend it to campus ministry staff, grandparents, and anyone mentoring or discipling others. It also suits the recruitment of staff or volunteers by setting the right tone for what you are looking for.

Strengths and weaknesses

The two-fold strength of this book is the relevance of the problems it addresses, and the practicality of the author's solutions. Klumpenhower is addressing three problems:

  • teachers whose only purpose is to fill a gap in Sunday School

  • materials that teach moralism

  • kids growing up in churches who "are never convinced that Jesus is better—a zillion times better—than anything and everything else” (p. 4).

I also see a fourth problem Klumpenhower addresses. This is a time of rich gospel-centred theory, but we are short on the specifics. It’s no surprise that a book designed to teach kids would be helpful. That it’s this helpful is a real blessing to the church. This is a book for theologically-minded practitioners. The author works well at both the top and the bottom of the ‘ladder of abstraction’, providing a truck-load of high-quality examples of what gospel-centred teaching is.

Here’s an example:

At Serge we often say that sin is like a shark. When a shark is swimming, the only part you see is the fin that sticks up above the water. But if you’re hunting for that shark and want to kill it, you won’t do much damage aiming at the fin. You need to aim below the fin where the shark’s body is—under the surface. It’s the same with sin. The sin you can see—lies, angry outbursts, acts of greed, and such—are only surface stuff. The true monster responsible for them is lurking lower. We must never be content merely to help kids make their surface sins less obvious or frequent. (p. 170)

The weakest spot in the book is early on. The author assumes that churches are short on teachers because they are being asked to do too little—teach moralistic lessons, with little preparation. But I find that teachers struggle to teach, or teach well, for many reasons. This is one of them, for sure. But raising the bar won’t solve all the challenges we experience in seeking good teachers.


Not only am I enthusiastic about Show Them Jesus, it will become mandatory reading for those teaching and preaching at our church. Klumpenhower sums up the desired outcome in his manifesto: “We pledge to teach the good news and show kids Jesus” (p. 7). Sounds a lot like Paul!