A child accepting Jesus. It’s a touchdown, grand slam, champion of the world moment in any children’s minister’s life. We put in so many hours of work and prayer hoping a child will fully understand God’s love and sacrifice. Today, I’d like to focus on that. Here are three tips on leading a child to Christ.
1. Help kids see the big picture.
Larry Shallenberger, next generation pastor at Grace Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, wrote an interesting article for Children’s Ministry Magazine a while back called Handle With Care? in which he talks about debating whether Jesus ever intended children to participate in his Great Commission (trust me, it’s a great read).
I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety when you get the chance, but for now, I want to share this quote from Larry: “Ask children what it means to be a Christian, and you’ll frequently hear answers such as reading the Bible, going to church, praying, and doing good things. When I conducted baptism interviews, I used to be dismayed by such answers. A quick survey of moral-development theories by Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg reminded me that children naturally see right and wrong in terms of keeping rules and avoiding punishment. However, the whole point of Christianity is that we’re unable to keep the rules, so we need a Savior.”
What do your kids understand about Jesus? Do they think going to church makes them a Christian? (If that’s the case, does going to a garage makes you a car? as my grandpa would say.) When helping children grasp what a relationship with Jesus is like, help them understand that obeying a moral code isn’t what makes you a Christian-it’s all about Jesus.
2. Make a relationship with Jesus personal.
It was the last night of the church’s vacation Bible school, and this particular church brought in all the children in from the decorated hallways of the children’s department and sat them in the pews of the sanctuary. Kids were asked to bow their heads. Of course, that didn’t stop many who couldn’t wait until the end of the prayer to look around and see who all had their eyes closed. After explaining salvation to the children, the preacher asked kids to raise their hands if they wanted to be saved.
Not knowing what salvation or being saved meant, the kids were quick to raise their hands. Some, because they figured raising their hand was the right response, and others, because they were just following along with what their friends who’d brought them to VBS did.
Do you see the problem? Sure, it looks good on paper, but how many of those kids are really going to walk away with a true lifelong friendship with Jesus? Make it a point to talk with children about what being a follower of Jesus really means. And talk with interested children away from the crowds with another pastor or volunteer present.
Most importantly, don’t force it. Let God work though you in this situation. Prayerfully follow God’s lead!
3. Train volunteers well.
I’ve had kids ask about Jesus and how to become a Christian at some of the wildest times. I can spend hours preparing a whole lesson on Jesus and what it means to be his friend and get no response-and I have had a child start to ask questions about Jesus while in line to use the little boys’ room on a field trip. So the question is, are your volunteers ready to talk to kids about Jesus? H
How does your children’s ministry help children understand what it means to be a friend of Jesus? Let us know using the comment section below!