This is the real New Year for both school and church. As kids start back to classes, churches across the country are all gearing up for their Fall ministries. When it comes to the Christian education of children, church teachers have a responsibility that is more than following a curriculum; they have a wonderful opportunity to lead their students to Jesus.
Every person’s spiritual journey is unique, including children. Every teacher’s relationship with his/her kids is different. There is no “how-to” formula that can replace the leading of God’s Spirit in our own hearts as we prayerfully seek to follow God by leading children to Jesus. Through all the things teachers do in the classroom, we are seeking to bring kids into a living, growing relationship with Jesus Christ, while continually recognizing that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and convince a child to respond to the gospel.
As we look for ways to lead kids to Jesus Christ there are few pitfalls we need to avoid. One pitfall is that we can manipulate kids to make a commitment they are not yet ready to make. For example, younger kids are eager to please their teachers. We need to ensure that children understand what they are doing so that it is not a meaningless commitment. The second pitfall, on the other hand, is to ignore clear signs of a child’s desire to express a commitment to Jesus. We need to avoid missing a God-given opportunity to direct a child to an age-appropriate avenue of faith in Christ.
The best ways to be assertive in bringing children to Jesus are to: pray for them; present the gospel in forms they can understand and respond to; answer their questions; make sure they understand the content of the gospel; allow them to express their desire to be a Christian; help them to pray; and, follow up with them. For older kids, asking questions is helpful and effective: Why do you think Jesus wants to be your Savior and Lord? How can that happen? What do you like about Jesus? Do you want to give your life to Jesus and follow him?
It is exciting to have a spiritually sensitive child desire to follow Jesus. When a child comes to a point in which the Holy Spirit is truly working within them, pray with the child, inviting him/her to pray. Offer to help if they need it with a simple prayer like this: Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me. I know that I disobey you and do wrong things. I am sorry for my sins. I know that God loves me and forgives my sins. I want to love you more. Amen. Encourage older kids to write out a simple prayer so that they can think about it before praying with them.
As a church teacher one of the great things about leading a child to Jesus is that you are already an important person in that child’s life. Thus, you are in a significant and strategic position to point the child toward growth in Christ. You have an established relationship in order to help the child understand that a lifelong walk with Jesus will have ups and downs, but that Jesus will always be there.
If you are already a teacher or leader of kids within a local church, then think intentionally and prayerfully about your role and influence for this coming educational year when it comes to leading children to Jesus Christ. If you are not in an actual position to teach or lead, maybe God is speaking to you about stepping up to be a teacher in your church; or, perhaps God wants you to come alongside certain children or teens in order to speak into their lives with grace, love, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whatever role God is leading you toward, take heart that the majority of Christians today were influenced in some vital manner through a faithful Sunday School teacher, a caring youth leader, or an attentive lay person who desired to see a child know Jesus.