An Interview with Jared Kennedy, author of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible

By Melanie Rainer

Jared Kennedy, Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY, has written a beautiful, theologically rich book that everyone will love—kids, parents, and teachers! The illustrations are captivating and stunning, matched only by Jared’s passion for God’s Word and the incredible way he makes it accessible for kids.

We had the chance to ask him more about writing this book.

JT: What prompted you to write The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible?

JK: There are a lot of excellent Bible resources for young children—great story books and curriculum. I love the grace-centered Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung for example. But there are less resources like these that focus on toddlers and first readers. When teaching this age group, I found myself reaching back to resources from the seventies and eighties—storybooks by Ella Lindvall and Ken Taylor. I saw a need, and I wanted to provide a more contemporary grace-centered resource for ages two to five. That’s what I hope will make this book different.

JT: The illustrations in the book are gorgeous! Who did them and how do they represent the words of the book?

JK: Seriously! I couldn’t be more proud of partnering with Trish Mahoney on this project. Trish and her husband operate their own design studio in Seattle. They’ve done branding work for Reach Records, Monocle, and Squarespace. This is Trish’s second illustrated children’s book with New Growth Press. Trish did the layout work as well as the illustrations. So, she was able to bend and shape words so that key truths were highlighted with different colors and styles. She also added fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to every story that will keep the youngest child’s attention.

JT: What do you hope children see and learn about God from The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible?

JK: I want toddlers and early preschoolers to hear the good news of God’s love for them expressed in ways that will speak especially to their young hearts. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” He meant kids of every age. I believe young children often learn the language of faith before their faith is fully realized. So, as soon as kids start talking, we can help them learn a beginning vocabulary of faith. In The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, kids will learn the name of Jesus as well as the names of other key Bible characters. They’ll also learn basic Bible words like sin, promise, Jesus, Savior, pray, and forgive. Each story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the truth.

JT: The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible focuses on God’s promises throughout. Why did you structure it that way? What do you hope families take away from that theme?

JK: I’ve framed The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible into two big sections in accordance with the Old and New Testaments. Each part has 26 stories. The Old Testament section is titled, “Promises Made,” and the New Testament, “Promises Kept.” Kids know the value of a promise. When I tell my girls that we’re headed out for ice cream, it inspires hope. But disappointment reigns when the shop closes early. Broken promises can bring tears. Unlike human parents, our good and all-powerful God always keeps his word (Num. 23:19). And the way he fulfills his promises is better than anyone could have imagined! My prayer is that our youngest kids will come to know that God’s promises are especially for them and that all of his promises are “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus.