Leading a Child to Jesus

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The reason we teach Sunday School is to teach kids who God is and to bring them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. But how do we do that? Read this article from the Walk With Me Coordinator's Handbook.

As churches become more intentional about evangelism, Sunday school leaders like you disciple more and more children who are at the very beginning of their Christian journey. When the Holy Spirit works in their hearts, these children begin to respond to the call of the gospel. Covenant children too commit their lives to the Lord, for every covenant has two parts: God’s promises and our faithful, obedient response. Paul’s words in Romans 10:9 are true for every child: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

As a Sunday school leader, what is your role in this miraculous, God-initiated process? Every child’s spiritual journey is unique. Every leader’s relationship with his or her children is different. No “how-to” formula will replace the leading of God’s Spirit in your own heart as you prayerfully seek to follow Jesus’ command “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). The following questions and answers will encourage you to make the most of the opportunities that God’s Spirit provides.

Q. Is it my job as a church school teacher to lead a child to Jesus?

A. Yes! That’s your main purpose for teaching church school. Through all you do in the classroom, you are seeking to bring children into a living, growing relationship with Jesus, recognizing always that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince a child to respond to the gospel message you present. But note these specifics:

  • It may be important for you to follow up with individual children—particularly if you notice from their participation in the class that they may be ready to take another step in their faith journey.
  • Nurturing children’s faith is first and foremost the task of believing parents. In the case of children from a Christian home, your role is to support, reinforce, and enrich what happens there, fulfilling a promise your church family made at the child’s baptism.
  • If a child comes from a non-Christian home, you may have to take more initiative in guiding the child’s faith journey. But be sure to include the family as much as you can. Invite parents or family members to participate when you talk with the child. Or encourage the child to share her initial commitment to Jesus with her family.
  • Enlist the support of the pastor or other church leaders and mentors as well. Keep them informed so that they can encourage the child in the step she has taken.

Q. Should I encourage a child to make a specific commitment to Christ?

A. Possibly. It depends on the age level of the child and on the child’s sincerity. In seeking a specific commitment, we can make two mistakes:

  • We can manipulate children to make a commitment they are not ready to make. For example, young children are eager to please their leaders. If you ask them to make a commitment to Jesus, they will readily do what they think you want them to do. Keep in mind that doing so before they are ready will be meaningless because they will not understand what they are doing.
  • We can ignore clear signs of a child’s desire to express his commitment to Jesus. By doing so we miss a God-given opportunity to direct him in taking this next, crucial step of verbalizing, in an age-appropriate way, his commitment to Christ.

Q. Should I try to convert the child?

A. No way! You couldn’t if you tried! Conversion comes by way of the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit in the child’s heart. You can present God’s Word in a way that is meaningful to the child. You can show the way by modeling your own faith. But only God’s mysterious work can give a child saving faith. What you can do, when appropriate, is

  • pray for the child.
  • present the gospel to the child in an age-appropriate way.
  • answer the child’s questions.
  • clear up any misunderstandings.
  • help the child understand and respond to the Spirit’s work within him.
  • allow the child to express her desire to belong to Jesus and personally accept Jesus’ saving work for her.
  • help the child to pray.
  • help the child to follow up on her commitment.
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