Continued From Yesterday…
Yesterday we were considering Jason Allen’s 10 Tips for Leading Kids to Christ to see if there was not also some good guidance for us as we interact with our grown-up children, or our grandchildren, or friends and others as well. We made it through the first four points. Today I want to look at points five thru eight (and I’ll leave points nine and ten for you to think about on your own).
Point #5. Share the gospel with your children. Do not assume they have heard it at church, and do not leave it to them to connect the dots from Sunday School lessons and sermons. Share the gospel with your children plainly, passionately, and frequently. (This is something that most people just do not do. They head for home after worship or Sunday School and never ask their little ones what they learned – they never check to see if they have the facts of the Biblical story in order, i.e. that they have connected the dots. There’s an old joke about the child who thought for years that God’s name was “Art.” Why? Because every Sunday they prayed “Our Father, Art, in heaven…” The same thing can be true not only for children but for teens and adults as well. Checking to see that the heart of the gospel is being plainly understood is something we ought to do with frequency.)
Point #6. Share the gospel in front of your children. As you do, your children can overhear the gospel in a less intimidating, more natural context. Moreover, they will sense how important the gospel is to you, that it applies to all people, and that you value the gospel and people enough to acquaint the two. (In Romans 10:17 the Apostle Paul teaches us that “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Children in this regard are the same as adults, we seldom understand things the first time we hear it. Repetition is an important factor in our learning (how well I remember going over and over and over again the multiplication tables when I was in elementary school!). The more others hear the gospel, not only in “churchy” settings, but in everyday conversation, the easier it is to grasp and the easier it is to understand that it is meant to impact all of our lives, not just that one day in seven.)
Point #7. Provide natural contexts for spiritual conversations. In our house, we strive for spiritual conversations to be as natural as talking about school, activities, sports, or any other aspect of our lives. The key is not the context but the consistency. Infrequently talking about the things of God ups the awkwardness for your children. Frequency makes it more natural. (It used to be a popular thing to talk about the importance of having “quality” time with children. I have always been of the mind that real “quality” time is not something that you can so much plan but rather something that happens in the midst of “quantity” time. The more you are together just dealing with life, the more likely those moments will lead to the opportunity to focus on the really important things. In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 God is speaking to the people of Israel and He says: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul… You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise… that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” If you are looking for them you will notice that God often provides the opportunities to speak of such things. I used to tell my congregation that when talking when others on the golf course, or at work, or over a meal, or wherever, they could use the opening line, “That reminds me of something that the preacher said in the sermon last Sunday…” and to then wait for a response to see if it opened a door for more conversation (of course, you have to have something from the sermon worth sharing at that point!). Look for opportunities to touch base, not only about TV or sports or work or whatever, but also about the faith.)
Point #8. Encourage steps toward Jesus. A. Criswell, the famed pastor of First Baptist Dallas, coined this phrase. It is a helpful phrase — and a helpful concept. When your children express interest in following Christ, even if they are quite young or you have other reservations about their inquiry, you can still affirm them as they ask questions and “take steps toward Jesus.” (And again, this is true for adults as well as children. In I Corinthians 3:5-6, Paul is dealing with “hero” worship in the early church as the congregation at Corinth is breaking up into factions based on their favorite preacher, teacher or apostle. Paul explains that each of them are simply “…servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” This is Paul’s way of saying “encourage steps toward (or with) Jesus.” You never know what your God-given role in the life of another will be, but you should always be ready to assist with the next step, be it planting a seed, watering the seed, or as I like to include, fertilizing the seed – all the while remembering that it is a part of the way God acts towards us in His grace, for He is the one who gives the growth!)