When you are in children's and family ministry, you are never lacking for things to do. Many children's and family ministries have a very full calendar.
If we are not careful, all the "stuff" we involve children and families in can crowd out the most important thing we do.
As leaders, our ministry must first and foremost be about sharing the Gospel with kids and their parents. Just how important is this? Look what Jesus said.
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
I didn't wrote it, I just quote it. God says people who do not believe in Jesus will not have eternal life. And that includes children who are old enough to understand the plan of salvation and their parents who bring their children to church.
This must be our primary focus. This should be our passion, because this is Jesus' passion.
What an awesome responsibility we have to clearly share the Gospel with kids and parents.
In a church setting. Let me share with you what means.
When I first started out in ministry, I would share the Gospel with children in a large group setting. I asked the children to raise their hands if they wanted to begin a relationship with Jesus.
I would then pray a large group salvation prayer with the children. But as I did this, it seemed that some children who prayed didn't understand what they were doing.
So I went back to the drawing board and came up with another plan. When kids raised their hand, I would pair them up a counselor who would talk with them individually and pray the prayer of salvation with those kids who understood the decision they were making. This was a big improvement, but there was still a piece missing. When the parents came to pick them up and we told them their child had prayed a pray of salvation, they were excited, but I could see in their eyes that they wished they had been there and could have experienced the joy of the moment.
This sent me back to the drawing board and this time I felt led by God to make one more big change that would be a game changer leading kids to Christ.
Here's what it is.
When the children raised their hands to say they wanted to ask Jesus into their life, we would make a note of it and then when the parents came to pick them up, we talked with the parents about the decision their child wanted to make.
We shared with the parents that the next step was to bring their child to a one-time, one-hour class where we would carefully explain the Gospel to the children and their parents. Then at the end of the class, parents would be the ones to lead their child to Christ. We provided a follow up question booklet that parents could also use at home if they felt their child was not quite ready.
This class was required before we would talk with a child and his or her parents about baptism. Parents had to attend the class with their child. No exceptions.
It was a game changer for us. In one year, we saw 460 children invite Jesus into their life and then follow Him in baptism. Every single child had been through the class with their parents. No drop offs. It was a family class. And speaking of family class. We saw dozens and dozens of parents get in the class and realize they needed Jesus to. Dozens of parents took the step as well and then were baptized with their children.
The class we used is called Starting Point. I know I'm a little prejudice, but I have been told by those who use it, that it is one of the best materials they have ever seen for helping kids and parents understand the Gospel and what it means to follow Jesus.
Starting Point uses interactive learning, videos, key Bible verses, object lessons and much more to connect kids and parents to the Gospel. Kids and parents walk out with a clear understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.
Here is one of the videos that helps kids understand that Jesus paid our sin bill.
And here is a video that helps children understand what it means to repent.
And this video talks about inviting Jesus to be your friend.
Here is an example of what it means to enter a relationship with Jesus.
These 3 words will stick with a child (and parent) when they are considering following Jesus.
#1 - You ask Jesus to be your FORGIVER. This means you turn from your sins and trust Jesus alone to be your forgiver. You ask Him to forgive your sins.
#2 - You ask Jesus to be your LEADER. This means you ask Jesus to be your "coach" or "boss." You promise Him you will follow His commands. This doesn't mean you will be perfect. But it does mean you will strive to follow Him.
#3 - You ask Jesus to be your FRIEND. Jesus wants to be your best friend. He has sent you "friend request" and He wants you to accept Him as your friend. It means you are entering a friendship with Jesus.
I can tell you from personal experience that when you share these 3 things with kids and families, that they get it. Something clicks and they understand what it means to follow Jesus. In one year, I personally saw over 460 children accept the message of the Gospel and then follow Jesus in baptism. Every single one had been through the Starting Point class with their parents.
I promise it will be one of the best investments you will ever make in your ministry. You will see lots of kids and families come to Christ because of it.
Click here for Starting Point Information
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a clear, simple strategy to lead kids and their parents to Jesus. At the end of our ministries, that is what matters most.
God says this in Proverbs 11:30.
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise."
The wisest thing you can do is to reach kids and their parents with the Gospel. At the end of time, that will be all that matters. Did the children and parents in your ministry enter a relationship with Jesus.
May we focus on what matters most and give it everything we've got to reach kids and families with the Gospel. Amen and Amen.