May 26, 2022

How to Know When a Child is Old Enough to Accept Jesus as Their Savior

This past weekend, I was teaching the elementary group in my home church.

I asked one of the girls, who is 9 years old, if she had accepted Jesus as her Savior.

Her response was, "Not yet. My mother doesn't think I am old enough to understand."

I have also seen the opposite happen.  A parent is pushing for his or her child to "pray the prayer" and then get baptized. But the child is only 5 years old. 

So how do you know when a child is old enough to step across the line of faith?  

As a children's ministry leader, it is crucial that you know what to look for and how you can help families navigate the most important decision their child will ever make.

Here are the things a child needs to know if they are going to enter a relationship with Jesus.

I have sinned.  Before you can be saved, you have to understand that you are lost.  If you ask a child if they have ever sinned and they say "no," then they are not ready to be saved.  Romans 3:23 makes this very clear.  

There is a price for sin that must be paid.  A child must understand that they cannot enter a relationship with Jesus until their sin bill is paid. (Romans 6:23)

Jesus died for our sins.  He has paid our sin bill.  We must ask Him to forgive our sins and trust Him and Him alone, for our salvation. (John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10)

Another way you can know is this - the child keeps bringing up the subject on their own. If they keep coming back to you about this, then it is a sign that God is drawing them to Himself.

Here's something else to look for - you sense the child understands they need to make this decision. It is not because their friends have done this and it seems like a cool thing to do.  Or they saw their friends get baptized and it looked fun to them.  There's a big difference between "wanting" to make a decision vs. "needing" to make a decision.

What age should a child be?  This is different for each child.  However, around age 7-8, children begin to understand abstract thoughts.  Here's an example.

You tell a child that Jesus is the bridge back to God.  A 5-year-old child is thinking there is a literal bridge back to God that you have to cross.  But an older child understands that this is just an example of what it means to follow Jesus. 

Here's what I often tell parents and church leaders.  It is not our role to hold a child back from making a decision.  It is also not our role to push children into making a premature decision. Our role is to walk beside the child and have conversations about following Jesus. As you do this, God will draw them to Himself.  

It is so important to be thorough when sharing the Gospel with children.  Children are the greatest mission field in the world. We know that most people come to Christ before the age of 18.  We must reach them while their hearts are open to the Gospel.

If you are looking for a resource to help you lead children and parents to Christ, then Starting Point  is a great resource.  It has been used to lead thousands of kids to Christ.  You can get more information at this link

What a privilege we have to share the Gospel with children and their parents.  May God continue to pour down His blessings upon you while you are sharing the Gospel.  There is nothing that is more important than this. 

May 24, 2022

20 Simple Ways to Show Your Volunteers You Appreciate Them

Last weekend, I was speaking at a church about children and family ministry.  We had a Q & A time at the end of the event.  

One of the leaders asked how do you prevent volunteers from burning out?

I gave several reasons and one of the reasons was lack of appreciation. These are volunteers who serve and never receive any kind of thanks for serving.  

Stats show that 65% of volunteers never hear the words "thank you for serving."  

Don't be that leader.  Be a leader who is intentional about showing your volunteers how much you appreciate them.

Here are 20 simple ways you can show your volunteers that you appreciate them. 

1. Say "thank you for serving and making a difference" each week.

2. Take a volunteer out for coffee and spend time talking with them. 

3. Have a few volunteers over to your house for dinner. 

4. Find out what a volunteer's favorite snack is and get it for them. 

5. Have the kids write out thank you cards for their volunteer leader.

6. Send them a personal, handwritten note of appreciation.

7. Grab your phone and shoot a short "thank you" video. 

8. Provide coffee and donuts on Sunday morning.

9. Recognize them on their birthday and celebrate with them.

10. Actively seek their feedback and listen to what they are saying.

11. Give them a gift card to a nice restaurant.

12. Provide resources for them to grow spiritually.

13. Don't leave them in the dark.  Communicate with them consistently.

14. Have a "volunteer of the month" and recognize the person for who they are and what they do.

15. Give them a weekend off and have someone else fill their spot for that weekend.

16. Send them a text during the week and thank them for serving.  Mention something specific they did that past weekend.  An example would be, "Thanks for teaching the Bible lesson to the preschoolers.  You did great.

17. Make time to mentor them and help them grow as a volunteer.

18. Brag on them in front of other people.

19. Have a "volunteer of the month" reserved parking spot. 

20. Bring them homemade cookies.

Your turn.  What are some other ways you show your volunteers how much you appreciate them? Share in the comment section below.

May 23, 2022

5 Guidelines (Rules) for a Children's Class

When I teach a children's class, I share with them 5 guidelines (rules) that I expect them to follow.  

I use the word "guidelines" instead of "rules." The word "rules" can have a negative connotation with children while guidelines are something that kids can follow if they want to have a positive class experience.

Here are 5 guidelines I expect kids to follow when I am leading a class. 

Guideline 1 - Talk when it is time to talk.  I want to have a noisy classroom. I want to have kids talking.  Discussing questions.  Sharing prayer requests. Cheering for their team during a game. 

I believe a noisy classroom is a sign of success as long as the noise is designated for certain times. 

Guideline 2 - Listen when it's time to listen. There are also times when you want the kids to get still and quiet and listen to what is being shared or told.  Lesson time.  Prayer time.  Announcement time.

Guideline 3 - Sing when it's time to sing.  Encourage kids to sing when it is time to sing.  If you don't, you will have lots of kids that just stand there during the time of worship.  Explain to them that they are singing for an audience of ONE.  It can be a challenge to get boys singing. Focus your music selection on the older kids and you will catch all of the kids in the room. 

Guideline 4 - Play when it's time to play.  This helps kids get involved in game and activity times.  Reward the kids who get involved and play.  Yes, one of the top ways kids learn is through play.  Make sure your games and activities are tied into your teaching points.

Guideline 5 - Have fun.  Some people think church should be a solemn experience where no one smiles or has any fun.  I believe what David says in Psalm 122:1.

I was GLAD when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.

Church should be a happy, fun experience for children.  Boring should not be a word we hear from kids at church.  

We keep telling children to be still and quiet in church.  They are wired to do the opposite.  Then we wonder why they grow up and all they do is sit still and be quiet in church.  Because we told them to.

Use these five guidelines and you will see discipline issues go down.  Use these five guidelines and you will see kids more engaged in your lesson. 

Your Turn.  What do you for guidelines (rules) in your ministry?  Share your ideas and thoughts in the comment section below.

May 19, 2022

How to Talk With Kids About Shootings

I was in Buffalo this past weekend speaking at a church.  As I'm sure you've seen on the news, there was a shooting there at a local grocery store. 

In the church where I was speaking, there were several people who personally knew some of the people that were killed. 

One of victims was a precious senior citizen lady.  She came to that grocery store every Saturday to buy food for the homeless. 

The world we live in can be a scary place.  Today's kids live with the reality that they could be shot at school, in a store, in a movie theater, at a concert and yes...even at church.  All of these are places where shootings have taken place in recent years. 

When kids see or hear about shootings, it can cause anxiety, fear, grief, helplessness and anger.  It is important that we guide them toward stability and trust in God. Here are some key tips you can use when talking with kids about tragic events like this shooting. 

First of all, remember that each child is unique and there is not one way to address tragedies. But here are some tips that can help you and their parents know what to say during times of crisis. 

Examine yourself first.  See how you react before you ask children how they are feeling about this. Young children will be more affected by their parents' and caregivers' distress than by the actual tragedy itself.  They will pick up on your reactions.  Be ready to present yourself in a calm manner. They will be comforted more by your actions than your words. 

Talk about the heroes.  Let them know about the brave people who stepped in to help, even at the cost of their own life.  This will help kids think about the positive things rather than just all the negatives.

Consider their age.  Many psychiatrists recommend avoiding the topic with children who are under the age of 8.  But again, it depends on the child.  Share information based on your child’s individual personality and developmental stage.

Reassure them that it’s all right for them to be upset, and that you’ll do everything you can to protect them from harm. Let them know that you are there to protect them.

Preschoolers - With young children, many doctors recommend to keep the story you tell short and simple. One sentence or two will suffice for anyone under the age of 6.

Elementary children will ask many questions.  Encourage them to ask questions and answer their questions directly. 

Decide ahead of time how much you will share with them.  Also, decide how much you are going to allow your children to see in the news.  Images are hard to erase once they are in your child's mind.  Too much exposure can cause increased fear or anxiety.  

They may become clinging or whiny, have difficulty sleeping, or start wetting their beds. Reassure them that they are safe with you and these symptoms should reside.

Pre-Teens will probably have already heard about the shooting.  They have immediate news sources with their phones, tablets and other mobile devices.  Start by asking them what they have seen and heard about the tragedy.  Clear up any inaccurate information they may have heard.  Fill in the blanks for them.

Ask them how they are feeling about the tragedy.  It is important to let them express their feelings.

Teenagers.  They are looking for solutions.  They like to collaborate to bring change.  Ask them what you can do together to stand against and help prevent violence.  

In general, all kids want to know 3 things when faced with a tragedy like this shooting.

  1. Am I safe?  
  2. Are the people who take care of me, safe?
  3. How will this event affect my daily life?
I would encourage you to pass this along to the parents in your ministry.  Give them the tools they need to navigate this with their children.

May 18, 2022

How You Can See Kids and Parents Come to Christ on a Regular Basis

The most important thing you do is sharing the Gospel with kids and their parents.  The Gospel is the power of God for salvation.   

Think about these questions with me.

Am I sharing the Gospel with kids and parents on a regular basis?

When was the last time I saw a child come to Christ?

When was the last time I saw a parent come to Christ?

When was the last time I saw someone baptized?

We know that stats show that most people who come to Christ do so when they are children.  I believe children and their parents are the greatest mission field in the world.  Our opportunity to share the Gospel and reach children quickly fades away as they move into their older teen and adult years. 

Here's the good news.  I have a strategy that can help you see kids and parents come to Christ on a regular basis. Here it is. 

Share the Gospel on a regular basis.  You can't share the Gospel enough.  Every week is great.  At the very least, you should share the Gospel twice a month. 

Ask kids who want to step across the line of faith to raise their hands during prayer time. 

When their parents come to pick them up, let their parents know that you have a class they can attend with their child. In that class, you will share what it means to enter a relationship with Jesus.

The class should be a family class for kids and their parents. No drop offs.  This is key if you want to reach kids and their parents with the Gospel.

In the class, clearly share the Gospel with the kids and their parents. You want to make sure they understand what it means to follow Jesus.  

At the end of the class, give parents the opportunity to lead their child to Jesus.  Or if the child is not ready to accept Christ, encourage them to continue having the conversation with their child at home.  Provide parents with a tool they can use to share the Gospel with their child. 

And here's the cool thing.  When parents get in the class and hear the Gospel presented clearly, you will see many of them step across the line of faith as well.  

Invite those who step across the line of faith to attend another class about baptism.  In this second class, clearly explain why you should be baptized. 

I have developed two classes for this strategy.  Starting Point is a class where you share the Gospel using scripture, videos, object lessons and dialogue.  Baptism for Kids explains what it means to follow Jesus in baptism.

This strategy has been proven to work.  In one year, I saw over 430 children and dozens of parents step across the line of faith, become followers of Jesus and follow Him in baptism.  Every single one had attended the classes.

Here is a testimony from a church that has started using this strategy. 

"I just wanted to share a quick praise report about implementing your Starting Point Class material this past year. 

 

We had 50 kids respond for salvation on Easter and sent home in their salvation packet to parents a follow-up QR code promo for kids and parents to attend our follow-up “Starting Point” classes on a Wednesday night. 

 

We had eleven children register. Two were guest families! They complimented the content and the creative ways of connecting with kids and teaching them about salvation and baptism. It was also the first time half the men including a grandpa attended with the family. 

 

This coming Sunday, I have the honor of baptizing half the group, and the rest will get baptized during the Summer. 

 

Thank you for providing us with excellent discipleship tools." 


If you'd like more information about these tools, click on the classes below. 


Starting Point


Baptism for Kids

 

If you have more questions, feel free to contact me in the comment section below.  

 

God wants to use you to reach kids and families with the Gospel.