This is a guest post from a good friend and preacher, Brother Dennis Legg, who at a recent staff training in our church shared his technique for leading a child to Christ. Having worked in the youth ministry for many years myself and having been in the position of leading a child to the saving grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, I know first hand how intimidating it can be! This article is one to book mark, or better yet print and keep handy for refreshing your memory on the do’s and dont’s of child ministry.
First of all (and I think really important) is to learn the child’s name! Refer to them by name as often as possible
Some things to Consider
1. God is more concerned about your child’s eternal destiny and happiness than you are. “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
2. Pray specifically that God will give you insights and wisdom in dealing with each child on his or her maturity level.
3. Don’t use terms like “take Jesus into your heart,” “dying and going to hell,” and “accepting Christ as your personal Savior.” Children are either too literal (“How does Jesus breathe in my heart?”) or the words are too trite for their understanding.
4. Deal with each child alone, and don’t be in a hurry. Make sure he or she understands. Discuss. Take your time.
A Few Cautions:
1. When drawing children to Himself, Jesus said for others to “allow” them to come to Him (see Mark 10:14). Only with adults did he use the term “compel” (see Luke 14:23). Do not compel children.
2. Remember that unless the Holy Spirit is speaking to the child, there will be no genuine heart experience of regeneration.
Look at God’s character–He is love! He is not dangling your child’s soul over hell. Wait on God’s timing. Pray with faith, believing. Be concerned, but don’t push.
Avoid using symbolism or church talk. For those raised in church being conscious of word choice
is important. What does a child think when we talk about being lost? For many an instant of being
separated from mom or dad comes to mind. What about saved? Thoughts of being rescued from a
swimming pool may pop into his head. If you are not sure if a child understands a word you
are using, define the word as you are talking or ask him if he can tell you what it means
1. God loves you. Recite John 3:16 with your child’s name in place of “the world.”
2. Show the child his or her need of a Savior.
- Deal with sin carefully. There is one thing that cannot enter heaven–sin.
- Be sure your child knows what sin is. Ask him to name some (things common to children–lying, sassing, disobeying, etc.). Sin is doing or thinking anything wrong according to God’s Word. It is breaking God’s law.
- Ask the question “Have you sinned?” If the answer is no, do not continue. Urge him to come and talk to you again when he does feel that he has sinned. You may want to have prayer first, however, thanking God “for this young child who is willing to do what is right.” Make it easy for him to talk to you again, but do not continue. Do not say, “Oh, yes, you have sinned!” and then name some. With children, wait for God’s conviction.
- If the answer is yes, continue. He may even give a personal illustration of some sin he has done recently or one that has bothered him.
- Tell him what God says about sin: We’ve all sinned (“There is not one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3:10). And because of that sin, we can’t get to God (“For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23). So He had to come to us (“but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 6:23).
- Relate God’s gift of salvation to Christmas gifts–we don’t earn them or pay for them; we just accept them and are thankful for them.
3. Bring the child to a definite decision. Being saved is as easy as A-B-C
A Admit you need to be saved
B Believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again
C Call upon Jesus to save you
- Christ must be received if salvation is to be possessed.
- Remember, do not force a decision.
- Ask the child to pray out loud in her own words. Give her some things she could say if she seems unsure.
- If you wish to guide your child through the prayer, here is some suggested language.
- “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all my sins. I ask You to forgive me of my sins. I believe that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead, and I accept Him as my Savior. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
- Now be prepared for a blessing. After salvation has occurred, pray for her out loud. There is a good way to pronounce a blessing on her.
- Use the Bible. Tracts and tools are wonderful, but if at all possible use a Bible as well when sharing with children. This shows them the truths being shared come from God’s word and gives them the chance to know where to find them later if needed. If a child has a Bible with him, use it and mark the verses you refer to.
- Have a plan for following up after a child makes a decision. A lot of children who doubt their salvation do so because after they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior they do not know what to do next.
4. Lead your child into assurance. (“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5).
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man
pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them
out of my Father’s hand.
I like to use this illustration, I take my watch or my wedding ring or a piece of money, and I explain how much it is worth. Then I say, “If you can get that out of the palm of my hand you can have it!” I clench my fist and let the child attempt to get the ring out of my hand.
(Praise the Lord, I haven’t lost yet! Another option is to hold the ring up higher than they can reach) Then I say, “Why couldn’t you get the ring out of my hand?” They will say,
“Because you are stronger than me.”
Then I explain, “Johnny, it’s kind of like this. When you got saved just a moment ago, God put you in the palm of his hand. Now. . .am I stronger than God? Could I take you out of His hand? Are you stronger than God? Can you take yourself out of his hand? Is the devil stronger than God? Can the devil take you out of God’s hand? Is there anyone stronger than God? Is there anything that could possibly take you out of God’s hand?” No. Once you are saved you are always saved.
Jer. 31:3 I have loved thee with an everlasting love
5. Show him that he will have to keep his relationship open with God through repentance and forgiveness (just like with his family or friends), sometimes we need to say “I’m sorry” but that God will always love him