“Miss Karen, you look like Mulan, but she had a small waist!” All I could do was laugh. I was teaching the missions class of my home church’s Vacation Bible School. I dressed like an Asian woman that day to teach the lesson. It’s interesting to get a glimpse of what is on children’s minds.
Summer is in full swing and along with it comes VBS, church camps and a variety of other opportunities to share the gospel with children. But what’s the best way to do that?
- Present the gospel clearly and thoroughly but on the child’s level. Any gospel presentation should include the following:
- God loves you
- You have sinned
- Jesus died and came back from the dead so you can be forgiven
- You must turn from your sin and ask God to forgive you
- You must ask Jesus to come into your life to be your Lord
- Avoid or define “churchy” language. Children think literally and many children today are not familiar with biblical terms. While children need to learn the language of the Bible and the church, the goal is to help them understand the Christian life. Here are some examples and explanations:
- Saved– When you have asked God to forgive your sin and asked Jesus into your life as Savior and Lord
- Born Again-being born into God’s family
- Sin-disobeying God in thought or action
- Repent-To turn from your sin and choose to follow Jesus
- Ask open-ended questions to find out what the child is thinking and test the child’s understanding. Never assume anything. Determine the spiritual condition of a child by asking questions like:
- What made you start thinking about becoming a Christian?
- Are you already a Christian, still thinking about it or not really sure? Tell me about that.
- What do you need to do to get to heaven?
- Who is Jesus? What did He do for us?
- If your friend asked you how to become a Christian what would you say?
- Guide a child to an appropriate commitment. In general, children make 3 type of commitments:
- Step toward God- This is for the child who is not yet ready to make a commitment. Children should never be pressured or made to feel like their decision is not important. Pray for the child. Encourage them to go to Sunday School and church. Encourage them to pray and read their Bible and continue to ask questions.
- Profession of Faith-This is for the child who is ready to make a commitment. There is an understanding of sin and the gospel. The child prays to receive Christ.
- Assurance of Salvation- Some children do not understand a previous commitment and made a premature decision. Some had a genuine salvation experience but may have questions or doubts. Ask questions to test a child’s understanding. For instance: When did you realize you were a sinner? Has there been a time you asked Jesus to forgive you and come into your life?
- Follow-up. Children should be in church and Sunday School regularly. They need to be taught to pray and read their Bibles. Resources such as “I am a Christian Now” are excellent for parents and children to work through together immediately after a commitment has been made.
One of the best resources I have read on this topic is Art Murphy’s The Faith of a Child. In this book, Art writes that God is the obstetrician and we are the pediatrician. God gives the birth and expects us to provide the spiritual health. Children’s questions are like spiritual kicks in the womb. The goal is a healthy, full-term spiritual birth. With wisdom, discernment and love, let’s reach our next generation for Christ.