Children are natural evangelists, not only for the gospel but also for their latest passions and hobbies. At the moment our 3-year-old son loves to evangelise to his friends about our local skate bowl. Our 5-year-old daughter loves to evangelise to her friends about the Woolworths Disney 100 Wonders Collectable Cards. Children are eager to talk about their passions. But Christians have a message that is more exciting than a skate bowl or Woolworths collectable cards. That is the good news of Jesus dying for our sins and the promise of heaven. So here are 10 tips for helping children be mission-minded.
1. Pray for the lost: Help children identify friends and family who do not know Jesus as Lord and pray for them regularly. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. Parents and leaders can model this to children by praying for their friends as well. Help children pray at specific times during the week, but also pray for opportunities to talk about Jesus as they go to birthday parties, family gatherings and play dates.
2. Practice ‘God Talk’: The term ‘God Talk’ is simply regular conversations about God and the bible. These conversations don’t have to be discussions about profound theology. It’s more about how regularly conversation is incidentally or intentionally seasoned with truths about God. When ‘God Talk’ is regular in a household, then it becomes regular when children are with their friends. This provides opportunities for gospel conversations.
3. Connect friends: A great first step in evangelism for adults and children is building connections between friends who are Christian and friends who are not Christian. These connections make an invitation to church seem less daunting. For children, this can be easily done with combined play dates with friends who go to church along with school friends or neighbours who are not Christian.
4. Play Christian songs: When driving in the car with friends who are not Christian, listen to Christian songs to spark interest, curiosity and discussions. Children’s Christian songs do a wonderful job of capturing the deep truths of the gospel.
5. Consider scripture contacts: For school-aged children, those in the scripture class are likely to be open and willing for their children to come to church. Parents can ask their child who is in the scripture class and then think about how they can foster friendships with these children. These families who don’t regularly attend church are likely to be open to an invitation.
6. Invite to church: Help children plan to invite a friend to church regularly. This builds a habit and normalises being mission-minded. Events like Easter and Christmas are an easy opportunity. For Grace City Youth, social and interchurch events like Assemble are specifically designed for our teens to invite their friends to church.
7. Pray for mission partners: Help children be mission-minded by considering those who don’t know Jesus in wider Sydney and across the world. Parents who are in a Community Group might like to share updates from their mission partners with their children. Pray for the mission partners, write letters, draw pictures or set up a Zoom call. Learn about their country and what life is like for them.
8. Sponsor a child: Consider sponsoring a child through an organisation like Compassion or World Vision. Write letters to the sponsor child as a family and include what you’ve been learning about God and the Bible. Many sponsor children will already be receiving Christian input from their sponsor organisation, so help to build on this by sharing about your faith.
9. Share Jesus in your family: Family is an incredibly important mission field. Parents can share Jesus with their children by reading the bible, praying, singing Christian songs and using ‘God Talk’ wherever possible. Whilst children’s and youth leaders do a tremendous job discipling children each Sunday, parents are the primary disciple-makers of their children.
10. Practice the gospel story: It’s important to build children’s confidence in explaining the good news of salvation through Jesus. Below are some images and ideas. Parents and leaders should model and role-play these so that children are ready and confident to explain their faith.
Please note that some ideas in this article have been adapted from material written by Kidswise (Sandy Galea).