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One of my great concerns as a pastor is that of child salvation. Today in the church we have so much easy believism. Pray a prayer and you are saved. This is what happened to me as a young boy and is contradictory to Scripture. I spent the next few years of my life confused on whether or not I was saved. We as parents and church leaders must have a biblical understanding of how to lead a child to Christ. I wish to share an article with you from Alan Street concerning children and how to lead them to the Lord.

Leading Children to Christ 

“Can young children be saved?  The answer is yes; children can be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do believe there are some thoughts we need to keep in mind when addressing this issue. Preadolescent youths are intellectually, emotionally and socially immature therefore they can be easily manipulated into making shallow or even pseudo commitments to Christ. Peer pressure, the promise of reward or the inward desire to please a parent or a Christian worker often lead into a non-conversion experience.

Developmental psychologists agree that between the ages of five and nine a child begins to develop a conscience, which enables him internally to distinguish between right and wrong.

Children come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ the same way that adults do. All must hear the gospel and then personally respond in repentance and faith. The content of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Apart from these facts there is no gospel.

The greatest problem we encounter when leading a child to Christ is, “How can I put the Gospel in terms that a child can understand?” We need to make sure that words and phrases such as sin, conviction, crucifixion, resurrection, Holy Ghost, repentance, faith, blood of the lamb, give your life to Christ, admit you are lost, come to Jesus, washed in the blood and invite Christ into your heart are redefined for the minds of children.

Every gospel message directed at children should begin with the fact of God’s love.  Children should be assured that God loves them, cares for them and wants to be their friend forever. Children should also be taught that God is their Creator. That he made them and is responsible for their existence.

Next, the issue of sin must be presented. This can be a more difficult concept to explain. When speaking with children do not use examples such as adultery, murder and rape. Yes, these are real sins but they do not relate to a child’s own experience. Examples such as lying, kicking, biting, disobeying parents, selfishness, fighting or throwing a temper tantrum when not getting your own way are sins a child understands because they are acts of rebellion he commits. It is very important here the child understands that sin is an act he commits against God as well as his parents, siblings or friends. Sin is his choosing to do what he wants to do when God wants him to do something else.

Once the idea of sin is explained a child needs to understand the drastic consequences for sin call punishment. Romans 6:23 is a good verse to share with the child here. Just as parents punish him for his rebellion, so must God punish him. Continue to reinforce the idea that while sin must be punished, God loves them and does not desire to see them suffer sins consequences. Because of God’s great love for them he left heaven, came to earth, took on human body and died in their place. God personally took their punishment. The substitutionary atonement needs to be clearly presented to a child. If explained in word pictures children can better understand this great truth. Here is a simple story that can drive home to the hearts of children the biblical truth of the atonement:

“The Boy Who Lost His Boat”

Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom set in the warm sunshine admiring the little boat that he had built.

Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.

Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.

A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see—sure enough—it was his.

Tom hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!”

“Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”

Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.” As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said; “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”

Did you know that God made you and me and that He also bought us?

Now that the Gospel has been shared, the child needs to be told that God expects him to respond positively to the message. If we are not careful this is where we can fail a child. Often times we will ask a child to say a prayer for salvation or even to raise his hand if he wishes to be saved. While a child may take such actions, these movements may lull the child into a false sense of security through easy believism. The Bible is clear that before a person can be saved he must repent and believe on Christ.

Repentance includes an acknowledgment by the child that his sins cause God to die. The child needs to realize the awesome consequences of sin: what it cost God to rescue him. A repentant heart is produced through the convicting power of the Word (Hebrews 4:12) and the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). The child needs to understand that unless he repents, he will be held accountable for his sins. Children understand judgment more than we give them credit for.

The next step is faith. It is easy for a child to trust Christ as his Savior. Children respond to love. Trust is ingrained in children from infancy. Through the use of a single verse, such as John 3:16, substituting the pronouns with the child’s name to personalize it, you can scripturally show the child what God expects of him.

Now you have shared with the child what to do make sure you give the child an opportunity to do it. An invitation should be extended to the child to immediately repent of his sins and trust Christ as Savior. Make sure to avoid such sayings as, “Nothing would please me more than for you to come to Christ.” The child needs to know that the decision he is making for Christ is for his own good and is pleasing to God. Once they have made a decision for Christ, they need to be told of the necessity of sharing their commitment with others.

Childhood conversions are a real asset to the cause of Christ. Not only is a soul saved, but a lifetime is redeemed as well. Childhood conversions pave the way for years of Christian service. What a blessing for someone especially a parent to have the privilege of leading a child, his or her child, to the Savior.”

May the Lord bless us, His Holy Spirit lead us and give us wisdom as we speak with children and all peoples concerning faith in Jesus Christ.

That I May Know Him,

Bro. Marty