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Evangelism - Speaking the Gospel to Our Children Print E-mail
Sharing the Gospel

I.  Introduction:

 Every year I want to do some teaching on sharing the gospel with others.  We always need help and encouragement in this area, so I want to be faithful in teaching.  Thus, over the next couple of weeks I want to look at two specific issues related to evangelism.  Tonight I want to consider our responsibility in speaking the gospel to our children and next week I want to talk about how to turn normal conversations into opportunities to share the gospel with others.

 As we think about our topic for tonight, some of you may be more interested than others.  If you have small children, then obviously you want to think about how to share the gospel with them.  Yet, even if you do not have small children in your home, you are probably around children in some context (like here at Church if nowhere else).  Thus, we all need to think about how to keep the gospel before children.

 For our purposes tonight, I want to outline a presentation given in the booklet Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. 1  The first part of this booklet is a presentation that Sally Michael gave at the Children Desiring God Conference in 2007.  I think it can help us think through the call to sharing the gospel with our children.  The rest of the book is helpful as well and I commend it to you.

II.  “Preparing Children for the Gospel”

 A.  Introduction: Michael’s presentation centers around the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9 and the explanation in 13:18-23.  Look at those with me.  Michael goes on to identify and comment on the sower, the seed, and the soil.

 B.  The Sower: We must begin by noting that only the Lord can save our children.  He is sovereign over all the universe and His sovereignty extends over the hearts of our children.  Yet Michael correctly notes: “(God’s Sovereignty) does not mean that we are not to labor in this ministry (of sowing).” 2  Rather, we are to pray for our children’s salvation, teach them the Word of God, and model a life of faith to them.

 C.  The Seed: The seed is the good news of Christ crucified for sinners.  In short, the seed is the gospel.  We must always remember that it is the gospel and the gospel alone that will save our children (read quote on p. 9).  Likewise, we must teach our children that salvation is not based upon works that they do.  No, it is only faith, or trust, in Christ that saves a person.  We must not do anything but trust in what Christ has already done for us at the cross.

 D.  The Soil: According to the parable, the soil is the heart, and in particular, the heart of the child.  Many children are excited about certain aspects of the Christian life.  Yet, we must be careful to discern between ‘spiritual interest’ and true conversion (read quote on p. 11).  I think that this is particularly challenging.  Yet, we must do our best by God’s grace to be discerning in these areas.  We want to encourage spiritual interest but we do not want to mistake it for saving faith.  No matter what profession a child makes, we must always keep the gospel and their need for the gospel in front of them.

 E.  How do we sow, tend, and harvest: Michael encourages us to sow with confidence based on the truth that God’s Word shall never return void (Isaiah 55:11).  We need to trust the Word and its power to save.  Michael adds that we need to cultivate proper conditions for growth.  We must give our children rules and teach them that when they disobey the rules there are consequences to face.  We must labor to help them understand their need for a Savior.  They need to come to grips with their own inability to save themselves (read quote on p. 13-14).  To illustrate the importance of teaching our children hard (heart) lessons, she quotes a story from the life of Reverend Richard Cecil.  Listen to the story (read quote on p. 15-16).  I think that story is interesting on several fronts.  First, the fact that it seems a bit harsh to me at first may indicate how much I have bought in to our current culture of only building our children up.  Second, not that I would necessarily do this with Isaiah, but I want to be intentional and work hard at teaching him the truths of the faith.  We do not want to make the mistake of protecting our children so much that we actually protect them from the hard truths of the Bible.  They need the hard truths just as much as we do. 

 F.  Stages of Growth: Quoting from a book by Art Murphy entitled The Faith of a Child, Michael notes four stages of growth:
  1.  The Discovering Stage (0-5) (p. 17)
  2.  The Discerning Stage (4-8) (p. 18-19)
  3.  The Deciding Stage (7-12) (p. 20-23)
  4.  The Discipling Stage (10 and up) (p. 23)
Michael understands that these stages are in no way concrete since every child is different.  Yet, they can provide some help in understanding how children learn and develop, particularly when it comes to spiritual matters.  

 She goes on in this section to talk about true repentance and true conversion.  Again, these are hard areas of discernment for the parent.  We need to know the difference between worldly repentance (just to avoid punishment) and godly repentance (genuine sorrow for offending God) (read quote on p. 25). 

 G.  Conclusion: Michael acknowledges that everyone’s experience will not fit into these same categories.  Yet, she hopes they are helpful.  She cautions us against moving to quickly with our children and advises us to use wise discernment (read quote on p. 27). 

III.  Conclusion:

 I admit that this is not an easy issue.  I have talked with several of you about your own children and how to speak the gospel with them.  Again, there is no ‘program’ to follow.  But hopefully we can learn from others who have thought hard about this important topic.  May we faithfully speak the gospel to our children and may He save them for their own good and His own glory.  Amen.

1 Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, (Minneapolis: Children Desiring God, 2009).
2 Ibid., p.8.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 May 2010 )

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