Easter is typically the time of year Sunday schools focus on the salvation message. Since we cannot meet in person, this year, I wanted to give you all the tools needed to feel confident in carrying out these conversations with your own children or grandchildren! In the ten or so years that I’ve been in children’s ministry, I’ve collected dozens and dozens of testimonies of children giving their lives to Jesus. Every story is unique, a miracle and significant. There is no one-size-fits all for coming to Jesus. The right mindset and understanding of your role will give you the confidence you need to carry these conversations from start to finish!
The first mindset you need before embarking on salvation conversations is that God wants your kids in His kingdom. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to eternal life.” God desires a relationship with your children. He is their creator and wants to be known by, and know your children. He is like an estranged father who will stop at nothing to be reunited with His child!
The second mindset to foster is that your children long to know their Creator. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts,” writes Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:11. Written in your children’s DNA is a longing to know their creator and an adventurous spirit to seek Him out! Like adopted children who would hunger to know their birth parents, our children at some point in their lives will hunger to know their Creator and purpose.
A parent’s role in this beautiful, adoption story is to be an ambassador, ready to give an example and point the way to the Kingdom. As an ambassador, a parent seeks to help a child connect with the Father, like a tour guide. 1 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God is pleading through us…” We can point out the door for salvation and affirm their pursuit of God. We want to answer whatever questions they are asking, and continuously reveal the Kingdom to your children in your daily life.
Leading up to salvation moments, set the stage in your home by being a continuous example. More than teaching the children about the kingdom that you belong to, show them! You can include your children in your spiritual life by involving them in your worship, quiet time or spiritual discussions. You can, of course, pray for them and ask them to pray for you. But, also powerfully, you can paint a picture for them of who God is to you by sharing your testimonies.
Countless times in the New Testament letters, apostles encouraged the church to give an example of their faith, be ready in season and out to give testimony and to share boldly. For parents, we get to do the same thing! Very practically, this looks like sharing your specific God moments with your kids. Not just, “I was in a dark place, and God saved me,” but the specific stories. For example I often share with our church kids about specific ways God pursued and showed up in my life. He healed me of acne in a semester when I was in college, He healed me from an eating disorder in one moment (through one word) in a car, He healed me from a cold when I was too stubborn to stand up and respond to a word of knowledge in church. He is healer to me because He has healed me. This is far more powerful than only sharing Biblical truth about God as healer. The Biblical truth is important, never stop sharing that. The power of your own experiences drives the truth beyond concept to reality. Your testimony will awaken your children’s hunger.
I can usually tell that it is the right time for a salvation moment when I feel something like a door come down from heaven. However, you can also tell by a look of conviction or reverence on the child’s face. These are the moments that you want to seize.
In moments like this, I have found it to be the most helpful to rely on asking questions and giving simple instructions. When Jesus revealed the Father to someone, He often asked questions and gave simple commands. For example, He asked, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15), “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-15), and “Do you believe?” (Matthew 21:22). And He said, ““Follow me” (Matthew 4:19), or “Repent” (Matthew 4:17). Even still, there wasn’t a “one-size-fits-all” model. He interacted with each person uniquely and directly.
Most of the moments I remember with my Sunday school children have been question-centric and to the point, with lots of pauses for them to respond and talk to me or Jesus about whatever is flowing from them:
“Do you want to know Jesus? … OK, say, ‘Jesus, I want to know you.’”
“Would you like to have your sins forgiven? Just say, ‘Jesus, please forgive me, and take my sins away. What is Jesus giving you in exchange?”
“Do you want to be baptised in the Holy Spirit? … Put your hands out. I release the Holy Spirit over you.”
Often, less is more with kids. Sometimes, the conversations can happen all at once, where a child repents and receives Jesus in their heart, but not always. The most important thing is to let the Holy Spirit lead and the child respond honestly, and you simply guide.
Don’t be concerned if your child responds poorly, says “No,” at these times. Children get to make a choice, and it’s not always the right time. There will be other opportunities! Don’t lose courage, and continue praying for them and for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom about timing.
From this article, I hope you hear a few things about your children or grandchildren coming to the Lord. First of all, the most important thing you can do is pray for the Lord’s timing, so that you get onto His plan. Secondly, share your own God moments often, and bring even little ones into your spiritual life as an opportunity, without force or giving up. Third, be brave and gentle in taking key moments to ask hard questions, see if they want to give their hearts to Jesus, be forgiven of sins and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions! Blessings!