The concept of the Trinity, or the three-in-one nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, perplexes even adults, presenting a challenge in explaining the mystery to children. A visual object lesson takes the intangible, abstract idea and turns the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into something concrete to which children can relate. No analogy is perfect, but a Sunday school activity that helps gives tactile form to the Trinity can also help little ones better understand a complicated concept.
Many familiar objects have three parts or forms, which you can use to illustrate how three things can be one. For example, show your children an egg and ask them what is around the outside, the shell. Carefully crack the egg and separate the white from the yolk to show that the egg does indeed have three parts which all work together to make one egg. In the same way, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all work together as one God. Another object analogy is to get out a tray of ice cubes and ask your children what ice is made of. When they say, "water," place an ice cube in a small pot on a hot plate and ask them what they think is going to happen to the ice. As it melts, ask if it is still made out of water when it is in liquid form. Watch the steam rise from the pot as the water evaporates and point out that the steam is just the gaseous form of water. In any form, the molecular structure of the water remains the same and it is still water just as God is still God regardless of whether He is in the form of the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit.
Water Pitcher Demonstration
Water can demonstrate the Trinity in another way, also. Bring out a large pitcher of water and ask your children to describe what water is like, such as clear, wet, liquid, cool and refreshing. If the children do not mention it, you can point out that water has three parts as well -- two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Pour the water from the pitcher into three clear jars or glasses. Ask the children if the water has changed when separated into separate containers. Elicit the agreement that it is still the same substance whether you separate it into many containers or pour it all into one. Explain that you can separate God into the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to help you understand Him better, but that God is the same whether you are looking at one part of Him or all of Him together.
One Person, Many Titles
Brainstorm with your children a list of the many names and titles they go by in different places in their lives. For example, at school, they are students; at home they are sons, daughters, brothers and sisters; at the doctor, they are patients and at the store, they are customers. They may also be friends, writers, readers, artists, dancers, singers, magicians, gardeners or many other roles. They may go by various nicknames with different people. Nevertheless, they are still the same person regardless of what role they are filling at any given time. Explain that God has many jobs to do and we use terms like "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" to describe some of His roles as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
A make-and-take craft gives children a tangible reminder of the Trinity to help them explain the concept of three-in-one. Let each child choose three colors of ribbon or heavy yarn and cut off 18- to 24-inch lengths of each one. Knot them together at the top and tape the knot end to a tabletop. Show your children how to braid the three separate strands into one to illustrate how the individual parts become one, even though you can still clearly distinguish the different colors. Tie off the ends when the children finish braiding and tell them they can take it home as a bookmark to remind them of the oneness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.