We are all commanded to make disciples of all nations, and I believe that includes children.
Jesus himself demonstrated clearly how he felt about children.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Children, just like adults, need to hear the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. And while the message itself is universal and applies to both children and adults, here are five things we should bear in mind when evangelizing to children.
1. Show Them Respect
Each child is made in God’s image and personally loved by Him. Our interaction with them must reflect how valuable each child is to God. Children will be so much more ready to listen when they feel respected. One simple way to show respect is to address the child by name.
If you encounter a name that is difficult to pronounce, don’t be afraid to ask the child to help you say his or her name. (This occurs commonly in cross-cultural missions.)
Respecting the child also means giving them your full attention. You should leave your mobile phones on “silent,” or better yet, don’t carry it with you. Constantly checking your phone or even your watch may convey that you would rather be doing something else.
Your physical posture can also convey a lot to a child. If possible, lower yourself to be eye level with the child. Being on the same physical level as a child often helps them feel safer and more connected to you. As you share the gospel with a child, avoid body language that may give the impression of discomfort or disinterest. These may include folding your arms, foot tapping and fidgeting. Children can be remarkably good at picking up these negative non-verbal cues.
2. Avoid Christian Jargon
We may not realize it, but our conversations with fellow believers are often peppered with Christian jargon. Many children, especially those from a non-church-going background, are confused when they hear phrases such as “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Jesus paid the price for your sins.”
For instance, when you say, “God is a Holy god,” the child may think, “God is full of holes? Must be the nails.” It would be easier for a child to understand “God is good and perfect” instead.
To effectively get the gospel message across to children, special care must be made to avoid jargon and to speak as plainly as possible.
3. Listen Well
Sharing the gospel with a child should not be a monologue. It should be a two-way conversation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that listening to a child is the same as allowing the child to speak. Always pay careful attention what the child says, and if possible, include what the child says in your gospel presentation. For instance, if you learn that the child’s favorite animal is the giraffe, you can mention that God created giraffes. Echoing the information gathered from your dialogue demonstrates that you value the child and what he or she says.
4. Use Appropriate Tools
You don’t always need an evangelism tract or tool to share the gospel, but if you intend to use one, be sure to use something appropriate.
There are evangelism tracts and tools out there with an unhealthy emphasis on hell. These tools typically employ scare tactics to frighten the listener or reader into accepting the gospel. These are totally inappropriate and gives listeners the wrong impression about God and the gospel. While it is true that God is holy, just and righteous, we must always remember that God is a God of grace. God is love. He loves us and wants to be with us. Using scare tactics simply runs contrary to God’s nature.
The gospel tracts you use must be age appropriate. While some children’s tracts are designed for a wide age range, some may be tailored to younger children and some to older children. It is good practice to carry a selection of tools with you so you’re always ready to share the gospel to children of various ages.
Good children’s tracts should help convey the message of salvation in a way that a child can readily understand. It should engage the child and encourage the child’s participation in the gospel presentation. The best child evangelism tools are those that gets the child so excited about the gospel that he or she can’t wait to share it with friends.
5. Always Follow Up
Regardless of the child’s response to the gospel, you should always follow-up with the child. Perhaps the child was not ready to accept Jesus as his or her personal savior. You should continue to pray for the child, and if possible, arrange to have regular spiritual conversations with him or her.
If you have been privileged to lead a child to Christ, it is important for you to help that child grow in his or her relationship with Jesus.
Connect the child with a local church if you can’t do this personally,
What a Privilege!
One my favorite parables is the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). And the part of the story I really enjoy is right at the end when the shepherd calls for a celebration: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (v. 6). This verse has really left an impression on me. Now, when I hear of someone accepting Jesus as his or her personal savior, I imagine the heavenly angels having a party to celebrate. For me, this picture serves as a reminder of what an incredible privilege (and responsibility) it is to be able to share the good news of salvation with others, children included.U