10 tips that will help you become more comfortable with inviting kids into a relationship with Jesus

As you get to know the kids in your children’s ministry this year, you’ll eventually get a feel for where they are spiritually. Pay attention to how they answer questions you ask during lessons and what kinds of questions they ask. If they’re not from your church, ask if they attend another one. It’s always a challenge when your group is made up of children who have grown up in church and know all the Bible stories and those who are new to church and God’s Word. How do you meet the needs of both kinds of kids when explaining salvation?

Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Show your love and care for the kids. The old axiom “More is caught than taught” is true. Be an example of what you teach. Demonstrate love and acceptance, and pray for the kids individually and regularly. Let them know you pray for them, and ask them for specific requests. You may be their best example of Jesus’ kind of love.

2. Recognize that it’s Jesus who provides salvation. Don’t try to force or manipulate kids into making a decision. The Holy Spirit provides conviction of sin and the desire to turn to Christ. Don’t ask them to repeat a salvation prayer without first saying something like, “I’m going to pray a prayer and you may repeat silently or softly after me if you agree with what the prayer says.”

3. Find a place to talk privately when a child expresses interest in salvation. Finding a place where you won’t be interrupted is ideal. That way you can both focus on the most important life decision anyone can make. (However, to avoid any suggestion of impropriety, make sure another adult is nearby, and follow any policies or procedures your church has established.)

4. Use language kids can understand. This is critical in a post-Christian culture. Many children have no understanding or context if you use certain phrases or words. Even kids who have grown up in the church may not be old enough to grasp figurative terms. For example, say, “become a member of God’s family” rather than “be washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Even a term like “receive Jesus,” which may be second nature to Christian adults, may lack meaning for kids. Don’t assume that kids have prior Bible knowledge. A simple salvation prayer might sound like this, “Dear God, I know I have sinned—I have done wrong things. Thank You that Jesus died for me so that You could forgive my sins. Please forgive me. I want to be Your child. Help me to live Your way. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, amen.”

5. Use Scripture. Kids need to know some simple, basic facts to appreciate Jesus’ sacrificial death and accept Him as their Savior and Lord. Be sure these points are clear:

• God loves me. (John 3:16)

• I have done wrong, and this wrong—called sin—prevents a relationship with God, who is holy. (Romans 6:23)

• Jesus died and rose again to pay the penalty for my sin and provide me with forgiveness, which allows me to have a relationship with God. (1 John 2:2)

• To receive God’s forgiveness, I must accept Jesus as my Savior. (John 3:36)

• When I do this, I become God’s child. (John 1:12)

• God gives me life forever and promises to be with me always. (John 5:24)

6. Make the verses personal. Have kids substitute their own name for words such as “whoever” or “world.” For example, “For God so loved the world” can become “For God so loved ‘Jacob’ or ‘Jessica.’ ” Discuss the Scripture in terms of the individual child.

7. Let the child explain what is read in his or her own words. When explaining salvation, allow time for questions. Have the child rephrase what you have said. That way, you’ll know during every step of your presentation how much the child comprehends.

8. Ask for a response. Sometimes adults may not think a child is ready to make a decision, but he or she might be. Give kids the option. Don’t pressure them. It may not be God’s timing. On the other hand, someone else may have planted a seed in their life, and now might be the right time.

9. Invite kids to say their own prayer. Have children who say they want to accept Jesus as their Savior pray a simple prayer in their own words. If needed, help them know what to say, or have them repeat after you, if they’ve indicated that they wish to do so.

10. Make sure kids understand what happened, and give assurance of salvation. Ask children for their explanation of the decision they just made.  Review the Scriptures you covered. Be sure the child understands that now he or she is a member of God’s family.

Finally, trust the Holy Spirit to work in the children’s lives this year, and be ready to do your part. Remember that the rewards are eternal.