Our Evangelism and discipleship of children is unplanned
“How do we create a consistent plan for leading children to the Lord in our ministry without thwarting the work of the Spirit?”
Some may not want to be controlled by a plan or process with restrictions. The children’s ministry (CM) must have defined processes for everything. This doesn’t limit the Spirit, but it protects the children. Some may also view “evangelizing” children as only the responsibility of the parents. According to Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, God clearly puts the responsibility of influencing a child’s spiritual growth on parents; but we are all encouraged to be “light” and “salt” to others. If the issue of evangelizing or discipling children is “politically charged,” nobody will complain about you becoming significant influences in children’s lives!
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
“…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil. 1:27)
“…let your light so shine among others that will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)
It is true that the Holy Spirit “calls” people to God, but there are significant verses that clearly underscore the Spirit’s work in and through people. The calling of being an evangelist or pastor/teacher in Ephesians 4: 11 identifies the Spirit’s work through specific people. In the CM, to have a plan is simply a protection for the ministry, the children, and the CM team. God is very strong about “order” in scripture. In 1Corinthians 14:40 He connects the work of the Spirit with “an orderly manner.” A plan that is based on biblical standards does not hinder the Spirit, it protects the ministrjy and the children from actions by the CM team that may not be “proper” or “in order” with the CM leadership and vision.
When we consider an evangelism or discipleship “plan,” we often think in terms of steps, actions, or a process. Although, these are all good things and your ultimate “plan” may include those things, the most critical part of a fruitful, successful plan to lead children to the Lord must rest on the foundation of developing relationships with the children and becoming significant people in their lives.
There is valid research on the impact of meaningful mentors who develop significant relationships with children, and the impact of those connections on children’s spiritual growth. The Barna Group and the Gallup Poll have both confirmed that,
“40 percent to 50 percent of all youth group graduates fail to stick with their faith or connect with a faith community after high school…”
People have analyzed this phenomena, and they have identified a lack of significant, meaningful relationships with Christian mentors as the “cause” of youth leaving the faith. If this is true, then developing significant relationships with children could be more important than choosing the right curriculum, training the CM team in lesson presentation, or developing the most advanced technology in digital delivery.
Begin the critical process of influencing children’s spiritual growth by acquainting your CM team with the importance of “being real” with children. Inspire your CM team to use the basic “tools” of ministry (eyes, hands, voice, touch) to make lifelong connections with the children instead of being so focused on getting the lesson “done” that interacting with the children doesn’t happen.
An excellent example of an effective evangelism or discipleship “plan” is demonstrated by Jesus In Luke 8: 40-47 when He was surrounded with people and on His way to heal the daughter of Jairus, the Synagogue Leader, when a woman who needed help, “touched Him.” Jesus stopped, focused on this dear woman and changed her life! We must train the CM team to look for and deal with the needs of the children, and THAT attention must be the foundation of the “plan” that you design.
Beyond this foundation, the plan must also deal with how evangelism is done (in groups or individually), the process that is used, how the parents are involved, what is given to the children, what is said, and what is done after the child accepts Jesus.
There are many files that will help you train the CM team in the value of developing relationships with children, becoming a significant mentor for children, and how to develop a specific plan for evangelizing or discipling children in the “Evangelizing And Discipling Children APPENDIX.” (Click on link below.)
View other articles in the “Evangelizing And Discipling Children APPENDIX“