Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The KidzMatter Blog/Spiritual Formation/Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….” I Corinthians 15:1, 3-4

I recently heard a true and humorous story and want to share it. It helps us understand why we need to keep “the main thing the main thing.”  

It was Sunday, and in Sunday School, the fifth-grade class was convening. The teacher was drilling her class about the gospel and salvation, and she was quizzing them at this moment in the class and said, “If I sold everything I owned and I gave the money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” and the whole class responded spontaneously with a big “NO.” “Well,” she said, “if I cleaned my house every day, mowed the yard, planted flowers, and made my home beautiful, would that get me into heaven?” And once again, everybody answered with a loud and emphatic “NO!” “Well, if I was kind to animals and polite to my friends and if I loved my family, would that get me into heaven?” As if programmed, the answer was once again a resounding “NO!!!” “Then how can I get to heaven?” the teacher asked. A new little boy that week shouted out from the back, “YOU HAVE TO BE DEAD!”  

Clearly, the little boy understood the physical aspect but not the spiritual...at least not yet. As a children’s worker, I’m sure that you already know that children can and will accept Christ if taught the truth and allowed to respond. That Sunday School teacher has a big responsibility to teach the truth to him!

One of my favorite verses clearly identifies the importance Jesus put on children. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” The lambs represent children. This verse tells of their location to the Good Shepherd- in his arms, and their value- close to his heart. Whatever your position or role is in working with children, remember that you have been entrusted with the most important part of God’s flock, who are the closest to His heart. The children.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that any of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:10-14)

Knowing that God’s will is that NOT ONE of the children in your ministry should perish, let’s define the main thing. The most important element of our ministry is THE GOSPEL, and the main thing we should be doing is leading kids to Jesus. 

Because the Gospel is the most important element, it is critical that Children’s Directors intentionally spend time training volunteers on how to lead a child to Christ. This area is often overlooked, and when the opportunity to counsel children who have responded to the invitation presents itself, volunteers feel very inadequate and shrink back from counseling a child. This is so devastating to a teacher who is leading a class to ask for volunteers, and no one moves. I have had that happen to me in different scenarios, and I remember thinking, “Why isn’t anyone moving?”    

You might be asking yourself, “What do they need to know?” Here is a list of what I consider to be very important to include when you are training them. Understand that this list is not exhaustive. This is just a springboard. You might have other elements that you would add.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:  

1. Do teach your volunteers that children can accept Christ at a young age.   

85% of people accept Christ between the ages of 4 and 14 years. This is referred to as “the 4-14 window”. Some good online videos explain this and can be accessed and shown to your volunteers. This makes it a sobering reality that we have a short window of time! Two well-known men who accepted Christ between these ages were James Dobson, who accepted Christ at the age of 3 years old, and the late Dr. Charles Stanley, who accepted Christ at the age of 12.  

I will never forget being asked to come to speak at a closing awards ceremony. An eight-year-old girl responded to the invitation. Her father admitted that, as a dad, he never really expected her to respond and thought she would want to talk about it when they got home. She asked to go right then to talk to someone, and he knew that God was dealing with her heart. She cried long after the program ended, and the Children’s Director said she was “crying happy tears!" God had saved her! When she got home, she was still crying. When asked by her mother (who had been working), what was wrong, she said, “I GOT SAVED! I have Jesus in my heart!” She wanted to call everyone and even after an hour, was still crying happy tears! The next day when her father picked her up at school, her teacher came out to the car and told him, “She’s told everybody today!  She’s so excited!” She is still a light at her school. Can a child accept Christ? Absolutely!   

2. Don’t assume anything.

Never turn a child away who responds to the invitation, but always check their understanding by asking questions:

Why did you come out? (Never counsel when there’s a spirit of laughter). Their answer will reveal how to proceed. What is sin? A simple definition of sin is all the things we say, think, or do that displease God.Ask if there is a specific sin they have done. Again, their answer will reveal their understanding.  

3. Do pray! 

Salvation is God’s work, not ours. Ask volunteers to pray that God would prepare the hearts of the children to be receptive to the Gospel. Remember, it is not the will of our Father in heaven that any of the children should perish! The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy, so let’s bombard heaven, praying for our children!

4. Don’t wait to be asked to counsel a child.

If the Gospel has been presented during a lesson, be respectful, don’t distract, grab your Bible and a counseling packet, walk behind the children, and wait. (Instruct your volunteers where to take a child to counsel, which should always be away from the other children or outside of the room, remembering to always take another adult with them. They should know to never counsel with a child alone). Make sure they don’t rush counseling and praying with a child. Remember, eternity is at stake!

5. Do use the same terminology across your ministry. Teach it to your volunteers.

Remember to keep it simple! A suggestion would be to use Believe and Receive. (John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Matthew 21:22; John 3:36; John 12:46). These are just a few verses that include these words. You might find others as well.   

6. Don’t be afraid to give children the truth!

Here is truth: Jesus died for our sins. He shed His blood on the cross. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22b). The bad news makes the Good News sweeter!

7. Do give a Gospel presentation at every event. 

If you spend thousands of dollars on an event and not one decision was made, re-evaluate how you can include the Gospel.  

When we arrive in heaven, the children who accepted Christ will be what we have to present to our Lord. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? You are our glory and joy.” I Thessalonians 2:19-20.

Remember, keep the main thing the main thing! Every. Single. Time.

Deborah Addington found her faith at a young age and is dedicated to guiding and nurturing children in their lifelong journey of knowing, loving, and serving Christ. Currently, she holds the role of State Director for Georgia at IGNITE 3:16, Inc., a non-profit organization bridging churches with local schools. Deborah speaks at conferences and has been a Camp Director for years, serving as the Camp Speaker for churches as well. In addition to her advocacy for Children’s Directors, she offers Ministry Consulting services through Addington Children’s Ministry Consulting.

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