• CART – Chino Valley
Leading Children to Jesus
By Rev. Barney Kinard
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. Prov. 11: 30
The greatest joy of teaching children is watching them put their faith in Christ. The hope of each generation remains in the children. The Scripture makes it really clear that each generation should bear witness to the things of God to the next generation. This sharing is not coercion, trickery or pressure. Sharing our faith is done in a loving relationship where we share what we believe…Christ died for our sin. Renouncing our sinful ways and putting our whole trust in the finished work of Jesus is life changing—even for children. We believe that the power of a good relationship is the best method of sharing the Lord of Jesus with children. As a teacher of the Bible, we share the good news of what Jesus did and what he said.
Here are Ten Guidelines for helping a children’s ministry leader to reach the children in their program.
1. Establish a relationship of trust and confidence (credibility). Value each child. If you don’t genuinely care about them, they won’t care about your God.
2. Discover the child’s background and interests. Find out about the faith of the parents. Call them by name. Show interest in anything they are interested in.
3. Kids must acknowledge both love and respect for the Lord. It is important to learn of his/her understanding about God’s character.
4. Communicate from the “known” to the “unknown.” It helps to know where the child is developmentally, what exposure to spiritual things already exists for the child. Begin where they are and take them where they need to go.
5. Learn for yourself the parts of the gospel message, so you can teach it. Learn different ways to present the gospel message—learn gospel methods.
6. Begin teaching the children to prayerfully obey and respond to each lesson by praying a prayer with you. Teaching them to pray with you makes it easier for them to learn and pray for themselves. Exercising one’s faith is a function of prayer. It is “who we believein,” not what we “do” that saves us.
7. Begin asking kids to talk with you after class, not because they do something wrong, but because you are interested in them and that you care.
8. Prepare a sample salvation prayer that you could use when a child is ready to respond. Begin praying that you might have the opportunity to help them come to know Jesus. Be ready to share.
9. Pray for the salvation of every child that comes under your care and ministry. Perhaps God has given you just the right ones, so you can speak into their lives and influence them for eternity.
10. Prepare yourself for Satan’s attacks on your ministry. Take a stand against Satan’s Tricks. Be courageous and pray for the souls of children.
A Suggested Prayer:
“Let’s ask Jesus to come in right now! You can pray out loud after me. OK?”
“Dear Jesus, I know that I have done many things wrong. I am really sorry for the things that I have done. I learned today that you died on the cross for all my sins. You have been knocking on the door of my life and I want to let you come in.
I thank you, Jesus, for coming into my life, right now. Thank you for forgiving me. Help me to learn more about you. Help me to live for you. Help me to go to Sunday school and Church. Thank you for helping me to know that you now live in my life. I want to live with you forever in heaven. Thanks for answering my prayer today, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Your Response: Where did you ask Jesus to come? Inside my life, they will say!
Rethinking Follow-Up of Child Converts
By Rev. Barney Kinard
(A children’s evangelist discusses his concerns about the kids we lead to Christ.)
I was saved in a Good News Club and for a while that was the only program I was part of. Then the lady who led me to the Lord also took me to Sunday school and church and introduced me to her pastor. Mrs. Fulton got involved in my life. I used to steal her fruit and play in her yard. But she was persistent and introduced me to a lot of Christian activities. I learned later that her friends were praying for me. Her follow-up strategy fit my needs!
What do you do with a child once he receives Christ into his life-from that point until he is planted in a church? Let’s consider the gap between his decision and his assimilation.
As a full-time evangelist, I am eager to share the Gospel in settings where there is the highest potential for solid follow-up. I care that children are plugged into a meaningful relationship with their church and that the body meets their needs and the needs of their families, if possible. However, I have observed there is an increasing tendency to depend on a once-a-week program to be the whole follow-up menu.
Most of our programs are built upon volunteers who only have so much time to give. If they can put three or four hours a week into a club program, that is pretty significant. For someone to come along and say, “Hey, you’re not doing your job because you need to spend more time,” is pretty bold. Many of us don’t have extra hours to give. The following insights may bother you a bit, but they will definitely help you build a stronger follow-up program.
Assumptions and Truth
1. Many people think that follow-up is an event. This event may be a class or a club program. But if the children are not at club they are not being followed-up right?
The truth is that follow-up is a process. It is a series of events – an ongoing relationship with children that allows you to be in the best position to influence them. If they like you, they will probably like what you stand for. What are you doing to build a relationship with the children you lead to Christ?
2. Follow-up is spontaneous. It happens by itself in our program. Wrong! This is a limited view. Follow-up requires strategy. For example: a visit to the home, a phone call or postcard. Someone needs to interface in areas of the child’s life other than when he comes to you. That takes planning, scheduling and permission. If you, or a helper, have a significant outside relationship with a child, the relationship inside your program will be greatly enhanced. It is worth the effort.
What strategy are you working on in your follow-up programs?
3. Follow-up can be done by the church alone. We usually view the child only in terms of our programs. I believe that follow-up must also be within the context of the family.
Most of us lump kids together instead of recognizing that they come from all types of families. A worker who was teaching one my children came to our house for a visit. He never learned I was a minister who worked with children or anything else about me. He assumed all sorts of things about who I was and what his role was as my child’s teacher. He never discovered how we could work together in the follow-up process.
Ask yourself…who does the child live with? What is going on in the family? How do I need to interact with that child’s family in order to have his continued attendance in your program and possibly others? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it will be hard to follow-up that child. You must get involved with families to determine the spiritual condition of the parents or care givers. This information will give you clues to the best approaches.
Six Kinds of Families
(1.) Both parents are Christians. They are eager to follow up their own kids. You can resource them to do the follow up.
(2.) One parent knows Christ. You can help that parent follow-up his own child. Provide resources and encouragement.
(3.) Parents feel inadequate. They will not take the steps to spiritually influence their own children and gladly give permission to another to do it. Go for it!
(4.) Neither parent is a Christian or they are nominal in their faith. Often they have had bad experiences with church. They leave all decisions about spiritual things for the child to “make up his own mind.” Work at building acceptance, but plan for one-on-one discipling moments during times that child is at church.
(5.) Parents may be of another religion or are adamantly against Christianity. They may be from another country or culture. In this case, you may want to send someone to the home who can relate to their situation
6. Parents are not biological. The child is raised by step parents or relatives. This situation can be similar to any of the above but need additional compassion.
4. All new child converts learn in the same way. Because each new convert is a babe in Christ it is easy to consider that they will grasp the first steps of growth through the same “formula.”
In relationship to Bible facts, this may be true. But in regard to how the children will grasp these facts, we must remember that children are individuals with learning needs and styles. We will encounter readers and nonreaders, disciplined and undisciplined children, controlled and ADD, visual, auditory and tactile learners.
While the same basic material may be used to guide all children in Christian growth, how we administer the “formula” must take into consideration the child’s learning needs. For example, the visual learner may do well with a fill-in activity on paper, but the auditory learner will need the teacher to talk it through with him. The tactile learner may be challenged to work through fill-ins by adding activities such as acting out a command, drawing a picture or adding motion to the memory verse.
What provisions are you making in your follow-up plan to accommodate different learning styles?
5. One more assumption-follow-up requires only the sharing of biblical content. Follow-up is not accomplished just because you give the children verses on assurance and the basics of spiritual growth. If you do that and nothing else, it is better than nothing. But it is not enough.
Rather, follow-up requires a meaningful relationship along with sharing biblical content. Kids will hear and respond to what you say when they know you like them. You become credible because you are knowable. The relational gate is the best way to influence a child. Spending time together allows the child freedom to share his thoughts and questions. He will then be open and receptive to biblical content.
What are you doing besides sharing biblical content, to follow-up your new converts?
This chart reviews the assumptions and truths we have covered together:
|1. Follow-up is an event.||Follow-up is a process.|
|2. Follow-up is spontaneous.||Follow-up requires strategy.|
|3. Follow-up can be done by the church alone.||Follow-up must be done within the context of the family.|
|4. All new converts learn in the same way.||Children have individual learning needs
|5. Follow-up requires only Bible knowledge.||Biblical content with a meaningful relationship is needed|
We can conclude that many follow-up procedures fail to account for the differences in children and their families. It’s not “one plan fits all kids.” We need a multifaceted approach to follow-up, suited to the needs of the individual child and his parents.
Successful follow-up is a relational process that requires a strategy based on biblical content and the needs of the child within the context of his family.
Time consuming? Yes! Frustrating at times? My Good News Club teacher, Mrs. Fulton, surely thought so. She transported me, prayed for me, forgave me, and best of all, connected me to Jesus and the church. Was her persistence worth it? Take another look at my credentials!
Published by Child Evangelism Fellowship, Evangelizing Today’s Child, Jan/Feb,2000 © 1999, All rights reserved, Permission granted for use in local church ministry only.
Do not reprint or publish or sell, without prior written permission from CCM or Barney Kinard