I'm thankful for children's ministry leaders who lead children to Christ. It is exciting to see a child come to Christ, isn't it.
But, for me, it's even more exciting when parents lead their children to Christ.
Somewhere along the way, many ministries decided to take that privilege out of the hands of parents.
It kinda' looks like this - when parents come to pick up their children at the end of a service or class, they are informed that their child invited Jesus into his or her life. I've been there and seen this happen many, many times. And to be honest, when I first started in ministry, that was my mode of operation.
But over the years, I gradually swung back to the mode of operation being coming alongside parents and encouraging and equipping them to led their child to Jesus. As you think about this, it is interesting when you see these stats...
According to Barna research, among people who embraced Christ before their teen years...
50% were led to Christ by their parents
20% were led to Christ by some other friend or relative
7% were led to Christ by a minster's personal prompting
1 in 8 cite a special event as the time they accepted Jesus (50% of the 1 in 8 said the "special event" was a church service)
1% were led to Christ through media evangelism or other special situations
Notice that half of the children who have accepted Christ were lead to Him by their parents. In a local church setting, this tells me that we need to turn our focus to equipping parents to lead their children to Jesus.
Here's what that can look like inside a local church. Instead of trying to lead children to Christ in a Bible study or kids' worship service, share the Gospel with kids and then give parents the responsibility of leading their children to Christ.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to share the Gospel and have kids who want to accept Jesus to let you know. Next, invite those children and their parents to a class where you have time to clearly explain to both what it means to become a follower of Jesus. At the end of the class, give parents the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation with their children. Or if the child is not ready at that moment, then give parents the tools they need to continue the conversation at home.
Do this and you will see God move in an incredible way in the hearts of children and their parents. Because here is what happens, when parents hear the clear Gospel presentation, many of them will come to Christ as well.
I created a class for this ministry approach. It is called Starting Point and I have personally seen hundreds of children and their parents come to Christ through this. In fact, in one year, I saw over 460 children come to Christ and dozens of their parents as well. Every one of them went through this class together. Every one of them took the next step after salvation and were baptized.
If you'd like more information about the Starting Point class, you can get it at this link. It comes with a complete follow-up guide for parents whose children are ready to make a commitment to follow Jesus. It also comes with student booklets, parent booklets, media elements and lots of hands on experiences and activities that helps kids and their parents understand the Gospel.
It is a powerful class that can change the entire direction of kids and their parents. Why is it powerful? Because it is centered on the Gospel.
Paul said this in Romans 1:16...
"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes - the Jew first and also the Gentile."
If you want to have a powerful children's ministry, then share the Gospel on a regular basis. If you want to have families where parents are the spiritual leader of the home, then share the Gospel with kids and their parents together on a regular basis. If you want to have a powerful impact on children, then equip parents to lead their children to Jesus.
Does this mean that we should never pray with children for salvation if their parents are not present? No. There are times when you are doing outreach outside the walls of the church and the parents are not present. Times like a neighborhood outreach event, a Bible club that meets at a school, a fall festival in the community, etc. These would be times when it would be appropriate to lead children to Christ (though I would say even in these situations, look for opps to share the Gospel with the parents and involve them as much as possible).
I am simply saying this. See the big picture. Our ultimate goal should be to reach families.
"When you reach a child, you change a life.
When you reach parents, you change an entire family."
As much as it is possible, we need to place the responsibility of leading children to Christ, back in the hands of their parents. And this can happen, when you have a strategic plan in place to share the Gospel with kids and their parents together.
Your turn. What is your strategy for sharing the Gospel with kids? How about parents? Is your plan working? Are you seeing kids and parents come to Jesus? How do you think we can be more effective in sharing the Gospel with families?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.