Practical ways to encourage spiritual growth in the lives of children you serve in ministry

1. Present the plan of salvation. Some kids in your children’s ministry may be ready to receive Jesus as Savior. Know how to share your faith or lead a child into God’s kingdom. Be aware of how different ages respond to the gospel in different ways, and use simple, straightforward language. Avoid typical Christian phrases that might be unclear to a child, such as “washed in the blood of the Lamb” or “ask Jesus to live in your heart.”

2. Pray for kids. Make a list of the kids in your children’s ministry and observe where each child is spiritually. Then pray for the kids’ salvation, their growing commitment to God, and your ability to answer any questions or doubts they have. Let children know you’re available and willing to pray for their personal needs. Consider having a special prayer time each week or once a month, where you and the other volunteers pray for each other and the kids. Or put requests in a box, and have leaders take turns praying for them. Another idea is to match up the kids, or a group of kids, with an adult who can pray for them. Share prayer requests with these adult “prayer partners” so they will know specifically what to Include in their prayers.

3. Discover each child’s “spiritual temperature.” If you don’t know where a child stands spiritually, be observant and look for clues. Some kids may have more interest in spiritual things than they demonstrate around their peers. Others may be more openly receptive to the gospel. Look for hints during Bible lesson discussions or in the questions they raise before or after each meeting.

4. Encourage kids to grow spiritually. Spend time interacting with your ministry’s kids so you will be able to provide helpful tips for their spiritual growth. Show them what it means to live as a Christian. Simply being a role model is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating this to kids. Encourage basic spiritual disciplines (such as daily prayer and Bible reading). Give kids information about other activities at your church that they might be interested in, such as vacation Bible school, Sunday school, weekly Bible club, or holiday and special events. This will encourage them to attend more, learn more and connect with other kids.

5. Get kids into the Bible. Children need to learn to not only talk about the Bible but also get into the Bible. Having age-appropriate Bibles on hand helps. There are a lot of great kids Bibles out there, so see if your church will invest in some. Try to have a Bible for every child, but kids can share or pass Bibles around, if needed. Have kids look up verses, instead of reading verses to them. Kids should become familiar with handling the Bible, learning where to look, and using it. Another idea is to give kids who are “graduating” to middle school or high school their own personalized Bible. It’s meaningful to see their name embossed on the cover or a personal message included in their Bible from the church. I still have mine from middle school and I’m at least 30 years past that!

6. Help kids learn to pray. Displaying an enthusiastic attitude toward prayer and respect for God speaks volumes to kids. Prayer times in kids’ ministry are great opportunities for you to show those who haven’t received Christ yet that they can have a personal relationship with Him. At the same time, you’ll be showing Christian kids how to deepen their relationship with Him. Take the lead in praying for kids’ needs, even if it means praying spontaneously when a child reveals a concern. Let kids know that God wants them to talk to Him about everything—good and bad. Also pray for others. For example, if you’re hosting a special speaker or missionary, pray as a group for him or her.

7. Encourage kids in their daily lives. As you interact with the children, family issues or personal problems may become obvious. Try to keep up on how things are going for the children without prying. Encourage them to ask questions or express concerns. Let them know both you and God care about each one of them.

8. Help kids cope with troubling times. Children—just like adults—can get depressed or discouraged because of difficulties in our world. Children who can talk about their fears will find them less frightening. Respect and listen to children’s concerns. Have your ministry be a place of safety and a caring environment. Children from a difficult background will especially need you to care about them and respond to their concerns. Bible lessons about fear and trusting God can be a big help.

The future of the church and our children lies in their ability to trust in the Lord.  Thank you for discipling them.