Any time someone accepts Christ, there is much to celebrate. When a child makes a decision, they often wonder what happens next. How will their life be different? As parents and leaders we have the privilege of coming alongside a child and helping them on their journey as a Christian. We are able to help them lay foundations as they learn how to build their life on Christ. The more intentionally a child is discipled, the less of a foothold Satan has to use to bring doubt as the child grows up. The more a child talks about his or her faith and acts to deepen their relationship with Christ, the stronger their faith becomes.
Each child is unique and the ways they live out their faith may differ, but here are some ideas to help them on the journey:
Ideas for personal growth:
• Participate in a New Christian’s Class at church. Being engaged in a class that helps children develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian and how to share what they believe with others provides confidence and knowledge. (A great next step after a New Christian’s Class is to have children of a similar age who have made decisions meet on a regular basis to talk about how they are learning to grow in their faith.)
• Model and train them in having a daily quiet time. Depending on the age, work with the child to create a habit of spending time in God’s word and in prayer on a daily basis. You may have to guide them at first, but school age children should quickly progress to time alone with God. Finding a devotional guide on their level is a great help as they start learning to study for themselves. It is important to remember to have them use the Bible to read specific passages, even if the scripture is written out for them. This creates the habit of digging into God’s word.
• Have a family devotional/accountability time. If this is something your family has already been doing, add an element of responsibility. The goal of this is for the family to open God’s word together, pray and support each other in living out their faith. One easy way to do this is to take a topic a month to focus on as a family. Each week read a passage that shows what God has to say. Next have each family member list something they will do that week to show they are putting it into practice. Here’s an example. Let’s say a family adopts the topic of media. They might choose to read (and memorize) Philippians 4:8. One person might set goals related to television while another focuses on types of video games and another might address phone usage. The following week, each family member talks about what they did and what they learned before looking at the week ahead. Parents can use this time to address age appropriate issues and help children learn how their faith impacts them as they grow with topics related to sportsmanship, dating, fashion, friendships and more.
Ideas for learning to share their testimony:
• Share with the church family. After a child makes a decision, have them share what happened with those who were not present when it happened. Telling Sunday school teachers, AWANA leaders and other children they see at church about their decision is a great way to teach them about having a testimony.
• Share with family and friends. Have the child call relatives who live away to tell the good news. Have a baptism or spiritual birthday party where the child invites friends and family with the sole purpose of celebrating becoming a Christian and making the decision public. Include a time for the child to share what happened. Time for others to share and possibly respond would provide support and encouragement for a child that might be shy.
Ideas for putting faith to work:
• Get involved in serving at church. Many people think you have to wait until you are older to serve at church but here are some ideas children of any age can do (connecting the act of service with a scripture takes it to a whole new level): greet at doors, distribute bulletins, pick up around the church, , tell a Bible story or lead an activity for a younger aged class, take up the offering, collect attendance records, help decorate for special events, surprise the choir with snacks during rehearsal, visit guests who have children, pray or read scripture in worship, send cards to those who are on the prayer list…what they can do is only limited by imagination.
• Be involved in missions. Find ways as a family to serve on a monthly basis. Is there anyone in your neighborhood you can serve? Can you help in the community? When you find a project be sure and tell those involved that Jesus loves them and ask if you can share why He is important to you. This can take on a whole new level by inviting friends to be part of the project.
Allison Walsh Kizzia is the preschool and children’s ministry consultant for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Because a chocolate chip cookie shaped her faith and life, she enjoys spending time in the kitchen with her husband and four year old as they experiment with recipes while learning about life. For more ideas or resources on discipling children and other preschool/children’s ministry needs, contact Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 501-376-4791 ext. 5193.