As I prepare to teach during our VBS leader training today on how to share the Gospel with children, I want to share some of the thoughts here so that I can think through more thoroughly. This is important because we need to be prepared to share with children in a way that they can understand and lead them to make their own decision about following Christ, based on knowledge of the Word of God instead of manipulative skills. I say that because, over the past 13 years of working with children and teens, I have encountered many, many kids and teens who have “gotten saved” multiple times. When talking with them, I usually quickly discover that they do not have a basic understanding of the plan of salvation or even what salvation actually means. On a side note, I have encountered adults who were “saved” when they were children but they, themselves admit that they did not understand what they were doing and made a decision based on emotions instead of knowledge. In the parable of the sower and the seed, the only soil that produces fruit is the one that hears the Gospel and understands it. The other 3 soils hear but do not fully understand. Many times, when sharing with children, we are so quick to seal the deal and get them saved that we miss the teaching that Jesus laid out about understanding the Gospel and then making a rational decision. In the parable of the sower and the seed, the second and third examples accept the Word at first but then turn away. How many times have you heard adults say, “I accepted Christ when I was young, then as I grew up I turned away. Later I really understood the Gospel and then started living It.”? I have heard that many, many times and it breaks my heart each time, especially when compared to Matthew 13’s parable of the sower and the seed.
I. Christ wants us to lead children to Him
In Mark 10, Jesus uses children as an example of genuine faith. Some of the people listening to Christ mocked Him because of their self-righteousness. They did not think that they needed to be saved. They were good with God, in their own eyes. Jesus rebukes them with the children’s example. The children wanted to come to Christ but the disciples would not allow them. The self-righteous people needed to come to Christ but they would not humble themselves to do it. Jesus rebukes the disciples and teaches us that we must bring children to Him. Bringing the children to Christ is not the end goal though, it is part of a larger process explained to the disciples, and to us, in the Great Commission of Matthew 28. Do you do all that you can to lead children to Christ or do you hinder them? Are you an example for children in your walk with Christ? If kids look at your life (and they do) do they see Christ in you, day by day, moment by moment?
II. Keep the process of the Great Commission in mind
Many times we are so quick to seal the deal and get people saved, like it is the end goal of sharing the Gospel. According to the Great Commission in Matthew 28, getting saved is not the end goal. Actually, getting saved is just the beginning. God calls us to make disciples, not converts. Conversion is just part of the disciple making process. It is extremely important but not the end goal. God wants us to teach people how to be Christ followers by showing them our own examples and teaching them how to do it via the Word of God. There are 3 main steps in making disciples, according to Matthew 28:
- Practical application
In order for children to get saved, we must take the Gospel to them and teach It to them so that they can understand It and make a rational decision based on knowledge and not emotions. Once they understand the message, they have to make a decision to be converted to Christ. He becomes their Lord and Savior. The next step is learning how to walk with Christ daily, as a disciple who produces fruit for the Lord. This is what teaching them to observe Christ’s commands. When sharing the Gospel with others, do you keep the full plan in mind or just getting the deal sealed by having the person “get saved”? Do you play on their emotions or do you make sure that they hear and understand the message of the Gospel? The disciples understood Jesus’ message and applied it when they planted the church
III. How to share the Gospel
- Admit that you are a sinner
In order to admit that you are sinner, separated from God, enslaved to the power of sin, you must first be convinced of that. Jesus gives a great example in the Sermon on the Mount. He pulls from the 10 commandments. Everyone knows that murder is wrong, a sin. A sin means going contrary to what God’s Word clearly teaches. Most people would claim that they have never murdered anyone and would be partially correct. Jesus says that if you hate someone (playing our murder fantasies in your mind) then you are just as guilty as actually sticking a knife in a person’s heart. If you have ever degraded another person with words or thoughts then you are just as guilty of murder as the person who sticks a knife in another person’s heart. Why? Because your thoughts and desires lead to actions. Another of the 10 commandments is not lying. Jesus develops this further. If you have ever not kept your word about something then you are guilty of lying. When you say you will do something then you have to do it. If you do not do it, or, if you do not do it they way that you said you would, then you are guilty of not keeping your word, or lying. Like the old saying goes, “a half truth is the same as a full lie”. According to God, you are a lying murderer and guilty before Him. What is worse is that you cannot stop doing these things even if you try. You are a slave to sin and need to be set free. This is what the Gospel can do for you. In order to accept it, you must see yourself as you truly are. Once you admit your situation, you must understand what the Gospel does to you and for you. Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. You can be forgiven for all the bad that you have ever done. The second part is that Christ rose from the dead to set you free from your slavery to sin. You now have the power to say “NO” to sin and temptation. You are no longer a slave. You will still be tempted but now temptation and sin are toothless lions, having a loud roar but no bite. Once you understand what the Gospel has to offer, you must confess Christ as your Lord and Savior. The Biblical meaning of confess means “to agree with God”. When we confess Christ, we accept Him as our Lord (Master) and Savior, choosing to follow Him every single day of our lives. Christ does not just become another part of our lives, He becomes our lives. We order our lives, plans, goals, futures, daily activities around His plans. We become His. Is this the way that you view your walk with Christ? Is He the center of your life or just something that you added in to your already super busy schedule? Do you understand what the Gospel is and what It offers? Has your slavery to sin been broken? How has your life changed since coming to Christ? I want to end with a quote that I saw yesterday. I do not know the author or who the author is but it is a fitting quote to end on:
Believe no man’s gospel which he claims has changed his eternity when it clearly has not changed his present.