Occasionally, you’ll have a child come into your ministry and within a few visits he’s ready to make a decision. Everything just seems to line up (your emphasis, the kids willingness, the Holy Spirits promoting) and a decision is made rather quickly. Those are exciting and exhilarating times. Those times often come “just when you need it” and feed and encourage your calling.
More often, evangelism with kids is a process or a journey. It’s the day in/day out, foundation laying, everyday Bible teaching that works in the heart of a child. Through time and maturation processes she understands God’s plan for her through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then one day she “gets it” and makes her decision to follow Christ as Savior and Lord.
Through my personal experiences, and after a lot of discussion with other Kids ministers, I began to see this process in four parts. I hope this helps you consider “process evangelism” with your kids:
Kids like to ask lots of questions. I’ve noticed that sometimes they really don’t even care what the answer is … they just ask. They’re simply curious. Older preschoolers and younger grade school kids are notorious for asking questions. They’re like computers … downloading information and storing it up for future use. In a child’s spiritual journey it’s the same. They ask a lot of questions and seem very curious about some of our rituals and ordinances. But let me warn you, just because they’re curious doesn’t mean they’re under conviction. Be careful to recognize the journey and not confuse they’re questions with a readiness to make a decision.
It’s fun to watch the “wheels turn” and connections form in a kids mind. Information they’ve heard all their lives will come together and begin to “jell” and make sense. Their brains/computers begin to process all that they’ve downloaded and they begin to understand the major pieces of the Gospel together: “God Rules,” “We Sin,” “God Provides,” and “Jesus Gave.” Fact moves to understanding.
It’s not enough just to know about The Gospel; one has to do something with The Gospel … make a decision! During this stage, kids will take all they’ve downloaded and processed and decide to do something with what they know and understand. They recognize that God created and rules everything. They admit that they are sinners, separated from God because of their sins. They understand and choose to repent and turn away from their sins. They believe that God sent His Son, Jesus — who lived a sinless life yet gave Himself willingly to die and pay the punishment for their sins so that they will have a right and eternal relationship with God. They respond to The Gospel and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord/Boss of their life! A-Men!
It’s a beautiful thing to watch a child process through the Gospel. It’s a blessing to be a partner and join a child on that journey. But we need to remember: with every blessing comes responsibility. The journey doesn’t end at conversion. It starts with “Discovery” but doesn’t end at the “Decision.” We must be committed to discipling kids past the point of conversion to becoming mature, life-long followers of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is crucial to a full and meaningful life as a Christian. Our ministries must reflect our responsibility.
This discussion was brief. One could spend pages and pages on each stage. To be honest, a lot of what happens on this blog does just that. For me, understanding that every piece of ministry plays a part of the spiritual journey is humbling and leads me to see each program, each calendared event, and each encounter with a new purpose and perspective. I hope it helps you, too.
Bill Emeott Since 2003 Bill has served as a Kids Ministry Specialist for Lifeway. His passions include childhood ministry leadership training and development, leading children’s Bible Study, and being an Uncle! Bill has been teaching children at First Baptist Nashville for ten years.