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Evangelising Children

When Jesus evangelised children he declared that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them, and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them.” He took them up in his arms, placed his hands on each of them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

1 Understand the Place of Children in the Kingdom of Heaven

  • Children don’t have to wait until they are grown up to experience, use and enjoy the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. “Unless you are converted and become like little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
  • Children don’t have to be like adults to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Adults have to be like children to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
  • Children are often given the impression that the Kingdom of Heaven is something with and in adults. Adults need to see that the kingdom of heaven is with and in children. “Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:5)

2 Consider Why Children are not Experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven

  • Those who are meant to bring the enjoyment of the Kingdom of Heaven to children sometimes rob them of that experience.
  • Parents – Children’s appreciation of the Kingdom of Heaven depends on their understanding of the nature of God which they develop from their experience of their parents. God created male and female together to be in his image – to be a true reflection of his character (Matthew 19:4). The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of love and a child learns to receive it through the way his parents relate to him and to each other. The failures and negatives in parents – and the good and the positives affect the child’s perception of the Kingdom of Heaven. Parents in broken and unloving relationships will fail to give children a true picture of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Significant others – People other than parents who are in relationship with children (e.g. in school and in church) are also meant to make room for them to experience the Kingdom of Heaven. When we treat children as Jesus does and receive them in his name, we give Jesus a place to be present and express his kingdom (Matthew 18:5). People who are significant to children and who treat them badly will make it difficult for children to experience the trusting, loving relationships of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Angels – Little ones have angels who are face to face with Heavenly Father on their behalf. Heaven is on their side (Matthew 18:10). The fallen angels (i.e. demons) seek for room to pressurize children to keep them from what God means them to enjoy in the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • A child’s responsibility for his own life increases as he grows older, but in as much as he has been kept back by the actions and attitudes of others, his lack of a proper relationship to Jesus and His kingdom is not his fault.

3 Be Careful to Evangelise Children in the Way that Jesus did

  • Our emphasis should not be on making them guilty about their lack of experience of his kingdom, but on providing everything that will enable them to experience it. Jesus took initiative in removing restrictions from children, and he related to them in close personal friendship, where he enjoyed their company and they enjoyed his. We should be careful about use of printed material which is designed to evangelise children. Some use methods of presentation which do not fit easily with Jesus’ approach.

4 Be Sensitive to the Past Experience of Children

  • Some children will know little or nothing about Jesus and his kingdom. We should not be looking for a response until we have given them someone and something to respond to.
  • Some children will be suffering from deep hurts or damage. Our presentation of Jesus and his Good News should be communicating his healing love.
  • Some children will have suffered family breakup or bereavement. Our presentation of our heavenly Father needs to be sensitive to the faulty or limited pictures of fatherhood that the children have acquired.
  • Some children will be spiritually oppressed. Failure to recognise this will lead us to deal with inappropriate behaviour either by being hard on the child (rather than on the evil spirit) or by giving room to that spirit’s authority by allowing its influence. Sometimes we may need to deal directly with the spiritual oppression, at other times we should be so distracting the child with wonderful, loving, heavenly things that they will stop giving way to the pressure at that point and so be at the place where more can be said or done.
  • Some children will be prejudiced by what parents or friends have said, or by negative experiences in their past. When children are negative about Jesus or things related to his kingdom, they may not be expressing their considered view, but simply passing on what they have received by the influence of others. We should not blame them for their wrong ideas. We should go for the maximum demonstration of the truth for them. Demonstrating the truth is better than arguing against the lies.

5 Help Children to Respond to Jesus

  • This can be done by teaching them that they have a special place in Jesus’ kingdom plans. “Jesus wants to use you for special things in his kingdom.” There are steps to being ready for this.
  • Turn from everything that spoils your life and hinders you from going God’s way.
  • Trust your life to Jesus, accepting all he has done for you, and being prepared to do what he tells you.
  • Tell out what you discover, and what is given to you to bless others.
  • Take in the Holy Spirit to give you power to follow Jesus and to give you gifts through which God will use you.
  • Children can be asked to consider which of these steps they have already taken, and which ones they are deciding to take to be ready for all that Jesus has for them. These steps (which mirror the scriptural repent, believe, be baptised and receive the Holy Spirt) give room for:- stepping towards a relationship with Jesus, beginning a committed relationship with Jesus, and moving on in relationship with Jesus. When children respond in this way, it is better to let them describe what taking these steps has meant for them rather than making our judgements or claims about it.

6 Be Aware of What Brings the Kingdom of Heaven to Children

  • When a survey was done amongst adults, asking them about their memories of childhood experiences of the Kingdom of Heaven touching their lives, there were particular experiences that were significant.
  • Personal experience of God – God speaks to children personally when they are on their own.
  • Being made to feel special – this happens through an occasion, a special gift, or by encouraging words.
  • Having a revelation of God’s love – this comes through the Bible story – particularly Jesus dying on the cross.
  • The friendship of an older Christian such as a children’s worker – relationship rather than teaching is the key.

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