Principles for Evangelizing Kids
- Be clear and avoid abstract language: Children tend to be concrete thinkers. If you tell them Jesus lives in their hearts, many will picture a two or three inch tall Jesus sipping an iced tea somewhere near their aorta. When you are sharing the gospel with kids, use concrete language and language that they are familiar with. Find ways to express biblical truths in ways that kids can understand.
- Be age-appropriate. Understand how kids develop: Part of knowing how to present the gospel to children is understanding how children think. There are similarities between kids in terms of what they are capable of learning at different ages. Get online and search for child development. Become a student of how kids think and learn. This knowledge will help you more effectively present the gospel to them in an age appropriate fashion.
- There is no formula. Every kid is different: No matter how much you read up on how kids develop similarly, always remember that each child is unique. There is no substitute for personal first-hand knowledge of a child. When you know the details of a child’s life, you will be in a much better position to make the gospel personal to them.
- Keep it short: Let’s face it, kids don’t have the longest attention span in the world (nor do many adults). Don’t sacrifice the depth of the gospel by trying to cram it into 30 seconds. On the other hand, be concise and get to the point. When you’re sharing the gospel with a child, it’s probably not the right time for a discussion of the church fathers’ views on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.
- Never give a child false assurance. Salvation is about more than a prayer. Unfortunately, much evangelism (with kids and adults) is geared primarily towards getting someone to say a prayer. Salvation is about a whole lot more than prayer. Salvation comes with a choice to make Jesus the Lord of our lives and choosing to follow Him. Never assure a child that he is “saved” merely because he or she said a prayer. You do not know what it is in that child’s heart.
- Never use guilt, manipulation or high pressure techniques: The Gospel of our Lord in not about guilt, manipulation or pressuring people into accepting it. Children are particularly susceptible to these types of techniques. Now, most people will not set out to employ guilt or to manipulate or engage in high pressure tactics trying to bring kids to Christ. However, there are more subtle forms of these techniques which are employed and must be guarded against. Kids are very conscious of what their friends and classmates are doing. Singling out kids who have not chosen to follow Christ in front of their friends who have and then presenting the gospel to them is a type of high pressure technique that employs peer pressure to achieve the desired result.