Illustrations by Mark Herron
Shuddering shoulders. Gushing tears. Gasping for air. Worst of all, she was
huddled in the fetal position.
Hearing Lindseys cries from the corner of the hall, I hurried over and
crouched down next to the distraught student. She wailed at me through her
tears, Why didnt I say more? Why didnt I say more? God counted on meI messed
upand now Davids gone!
Lindsey, tell me what happened.
Peering at me through her streaked mascara, she began her story: With one
minute left in the class, I started talking with David. He asked me what I did
over the weekend. I said I went to church. He asked if I read the Bible. I said
most days, but not every day.
Lindsey wiped her tears and added with a shaky voice: Then he told me, I
went to church once, but that was a long time ago. After that, the bell rang
and we went our separate ways. I should have said morethat was probably his
last chance to hear about God. Maybe he wouldnt have killed himself. Tears
As a school counselor, I knew I had to say a silent prayer quickly and
choose my words carefully: Lindsey, when David asked you what you did over the
weekend, what went through your mind?
I knew I should mention church, but I was afraid he would make fun of
But did you say it anyway? I asked.
Lindsey, God knew there was only one minute left in class. If He had wanted
you to say more, He would have caused your conversation to start earlier. You
said exactly what God wanted you to say. He used you to remind David about God
and His love for David. We dont know what happened in Davids life in the hours
between your conversation and when he committed suicide. I believe God divinely
used you to remind David of His love for him.
Lindsey blinked to clear her tears.
Lindsey, God picked you to say those brief comments about Him, because He
knew you would be faithful and strong enough to say those words. Since you were
faithful in that one-minute conversation, God knows you will be faithful with
similar situations in the future. God is proud of you, and I am too!
Lindsey managed a smile and gave me a big hug.
Lindsey had not become an on
mission Christian over night. I can think of many reasons why she was able
to rise to the occasion with teens who needed Christ, such as David. The first
was her decision for salvation at a young age. Lindsey accepted Jesus as her
Savior at the age of eight. Her parents took her to church and Sunday school,
encouraging her to attend even when she became a teen, the age when kids often
rebel. Her early faith in Christ and her solid grounding in biblical teachings
gave her the foundation of knowing Gods love for her, and the courage to help
others to experience His love too.
For 25 years Ive worked with thousands of children
ages six to 19 as a teacher, counselor, youth director, or coach in Christian
schools or public schools and in part-time or full-time ministry.
Most of my experiences with young people have been wonderful, but some have
been challenging because of the coarsening of society and its effects on our
students. Unfortunately, Ive seen more and more Davids in our schools, kids who
choose suicide or other kinds of violence. I was even called upon to help
counsel students at neighboring Columbine High School after its horrific
tragedy. I know how much the younger generation needs to know and depend on
Christ for their strength, direction and hope.
Ive found that kids who have a solid faith in Jesus Christ and learn the
fundamentals of being on mission Christians grow up to have a rich
Christian walk in adulthood. So, how can we help children develop that kind of
faith in God and a lifestyle of sharing Him with others?
One of the most quoted verses in the Bible for parents is
train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn
from it (Proverbs 22:6). A new nationwide survey by Barna Research Group
provides some statistical support for that notion: seven of 10 American adults
(71 percent) had a period of time during their childhood when they regularly
attended a Christian church. A majority of those who attended church as a
youngster still attend regularly today (61 percent), while a larger majority of
those who were not church-goers as children are still absent from churches
today (78 percent).
Make the Bible come aliveBy Tricia Goyer
For five years, my husband and I have been part of an amazing childrens
ministry. Using drama, puppets, music and even a fog machine, we act out Bible
stories that make scriptures come alive. Kids love this approach, and so do
their parentsmany of whom have been attracted to our church because of this
ministry to their children. The results speak for themselves. We started with
25 four-to-nine-year olds, and now number 100. Our secret? Here are five of
Dedication. Sunday service is something we believe in. From the first
welcome, to the final words of encouragement, we want the kids to know that
were there for them. We dress in special leader T-shirts and take time during
the week to think up creative skits and practice action songs. And, as we show
our dedication, kidsin turnshow their respect by giving us their
Visual Effects. We live in a high-tech world. Goodbye,
flannel graph. Hello, costumes, props and fun. Drama isnt only for
professionals. With a little creativity, leaders can use bathrobes and plastic
bugs to act out the plagues on Egypt. Or, with a baseball cap and a broken
vase, a skit dealing with honesty hits home. Other tools we use are colored
lights, simulated fog and sound effectsanything to grab a childs attention and
Impromptu Silliness. None of our childrens church leaders
have time to study lines. Our alternative is to meet with other volunteers
before childrens church begins to talk about the purpose of the skits and the
messages wed like to present. Once on stage, leaders stick to the message, but
we also feel free to allow the silliness to flow. For example, one character
may talk in rhyme or another may constantly repeat herself. These unusual
quirks bring plenty of laughter and make the skits memorable.
Repetition. We dont stop at one skit. Instead we use two or
three to get that weeks message across. Along with the Bible story, we also act
out practical applications or simple object lessons in which themes such as
faithfulness, generosity and honesty are applied to situations kids face every
WWJD? Jesus was a master storyteller. He described Himself
as a Shepherd, a Tree, a Light and a Gardener, to name a few. By using Jesus
example we help children picture our biblical messages, which of course are
Gods messages brought to life for kids!
Tricia and John Goyer live in Kalispell, Montana. They lead Wee Ones
Worship (W.O.W.) at Easthaven Baptist Church.
Keith Johnson of Group Publishing in his article Sharing Faith in Christ,
Childrens Ministries Magazine, says, eighty-five percent of people who
receive Jesus Christ as Savior do so between the ages of four and 14.
Thats the time in a childs life to lay a foundation for an on mission
lifestyle. Children can learn the value of being on mission through
the experiences that help them share Jesus, says Rob Carr, childrens mission
education strategist for the North American Mission Board. They can learn to
pray for specific people who need Jesus, to partner with each other in service
and to present the gospel to people. Children have an I can do it too approach
to mission work. They want to tell people about Jesus and His love for
So, how can you share Christ with your children or grandchildren? Remember
that talking about salvation with children should be done in age appropriate
terms. You cant talk with a 7-year-old the same way you talk with a
Dr. Mary Manz Simon, practical parenting specialist, says, As parents we are
compelled to meet our childrens needs in developmentally appropriate ways. As
Christians we have the responsibility to tell Gods story. This means that as
Christian parents we use our God-given talents and knowledge of our child to
support the childs journey with Jesus.
It begins when we hold a childs hand before a meal, bow our head and say,
Thank you, Jesus. A year later, we sing hymns as we rock a feverish toddler to
sleep. Then our preschooler sees Christian compassion when we help an elderly
neighbor carry groceries into the house. In the next season of life, our third
grader gets a look at forgiveness when we forgive the car pool driver who is
lateagain. And so it goes.
As we model Christian behavior, our child sees the results of our personal
commitment to Christ. This lays the groundwork. At some point, the parent
realizes that talking about individual responsibility for a commitment is
appropriate and that the child is readyprobably for the beginning of many
Pointers for developmental stages:
Keep the message of salvation simple. Check for understanding. Ask
Be careful of the phrase ask Jesus into your heart. One little boy went home
from church in tears. He told his mother that he wanted to accept Jesus into
his heart, but he couldnt because Jesus was too big, and He wouldnt fit.
Dont pressure them to make a decision for Christ. They may do it just to
Ages 7-11Love them unconditionally. Children
will understand Gods love for them through your actions toward them.
Help them realize that God is in charge of the universe, and that He will
always be with them.
Let them know they dont have to do anything to earn their salvationits a
free gift from God with no strings attached. Kids can use the On Mission to
Share Jesus (OMTSJ) bracelet above to share Christ with their friends.
Ages 12-15Walk the talkyour
kids are observant and critical at this stage and will be watching your life.
Will they want the faith you have?
Assure them of your love for them. During the time of puberty, they feel
Peers are more important than ever. Make sure they are in a youth group.
Many kids this age accept Christ as their Savior at camps or retreats.
Ages 16-18Dont play Holy Spirit by
trying to manipulate circumstances spiritually.
God knows whats going on.
Be ready at all times to talk about spiritual things. There will be moments
when they are ready to talk.
They will long for independence more than ever. They may reject your advice.
Remember God will be with them. Pray constantly for them.
Todays families are stressed, stretched and losing touch with each other.
American Family Association research shows:
Only 34 percent of Americas families eat one meal together each day.
The average father spends only eight
to 10 minutes a day with his children. This includes television and meals.
Only 12 percent of Americas families pray together.
The average couple spends only four minutes of uninterrupted time together a
Family to Family is for hurried parents who deeply desire to spend time with
their children, deepen family relationships and discover together a lasting
faith in Christ. Designed to use in the home, this resource helps families move
from their activity-driven lifestyles to meaningful family times and shared
experiences based on biblical principles and love for God.
Family to Family includes practical ideas for family-building experiences
that will allow families to develop a mission statement. It also provides ideas
for presenting the gospel to your children and then teaching them to share the
gospel with others once they have committed their lives to Christ.
Essentially, families will discover Gods specific purpose for them. In
addition, there are practical ministry evangelism ideas for the whole family
and chapter discussions and activities that any family can use to build
biblical principles into the fabric of their everyday lives.
Family to Family also can be used in your church or organization. A resource
kit includes the Family to Family book, a Leaders Guide, promotional poster,
promotional clip art and dramatized video hosted by Christian recording artist
For more information contact the Family Evangelism unit of the North
American Mission Board by calling 770-410-6327. To order Family to Family, call
Bringing our children or grandchildren to faith in Jesus Christ and
encouraging them to become on mission Christians is a process and the
greatest privilege of all. Some children make the decision to accept Jesus as
their Savior and remain committed to Christ all their lives. Others go through
a time of rebellion and seem to turn their backs on God. One girl, who became a
Christian at the age of seven, rebelled in the severest of terms. She got into
drugs, promiscuity and Satanism, but her mom kept praying for her and continued
loving her. At 25, she returned to her faith in Christ, and she is serving God
whole-heartedly now as a youth director. In Lael Arringtons book World
Proofing Your Kids, the author quotes Book of Virtues author Bill
Bennett as saying, It has been said that there is nothing more influential,
more determinant in a childs life than the moral power of a quiet example.
As a grandparent you may wonder how much of an impact you can have on your
grandchildren. In Light Their Fire For God, Anne and David Harper
share three important roles grandparents can play in childrens lives:
1. Encourage the grandkids through letters and phone calls or spending time
with them. 2. Pray for them.
3. Teach them Gods Word. A grandparents unconditional love in making
children feel special can instill a sense of acceptance in children that will
stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Your support and faith as parents or grandparents is the biggest factor in a
childs salvation. Even though it may seem impossible at times, love them
unconditionally but make them accountable for their actions. Yes, Jesus loved
His disciples, but He also rebuked them when it was necessary. You have the
most difficult job in the world! Trust in the Lord with all your heart and
lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Walk the talklive
your faith authentically before your children. Your life may be the most
influential Bible they will ever read. God handpicked you to be the parent or
grandparent of the children in your family. He will give you everything you
need for the job He has called you to do. If you need help, plenty of qualified
people can assist you. God believes in youso you can believe in your children
and pass your faith on to them.
Dr. Mary Manz Simon adds, At every stage of a childs journey, by direct
teaching and modeling Christ-like behavior, we nurture a child to grow up with
Jesus. During the seasons of life, we miss opportunities. We mess up (and so do
our children). But as on mission parents and grandparents, we take seriously
the words of the psalmist who wrote, We will tell the next generation the
praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done (Psalm
78:4). And when we embrace those words, a child isnt the only one to grow
up with Jesus. We grow, too.
Sandy Austin is a school counselor
in Lakewood, Colorado, and author of the forthcoming book Angry Kids and
Parents Who Love Them (Beacon Hill
On Mission Parenting 101 ResourcesOn Mission Place Mats, North American Mission Board. Four-color,
disposable place mats help your family pray for personal spiritual growth,
family, church, workplaces and schools, neighbors, community, state, nation and
world. Four designs, 100 place mats per package.
On Mission Lunch Notes, North American
Mission Board. Looking for a way to support and encourage your child while he
or she is away from home? Slip a note in a lunchbox, backpack, suitcase, gym
bag or coat pocket. Each 30-page pad contains 15 different messages to remind
children that God loves them and they can share that love. Each note has space
for you to add a personal message. Ten pads per package.
Show and Tell, North American Mission Board. Series of products
that can help your child make sharing his or her faith comfortable and fun. The
book cover, sticker book and bookmark all use colors to represent the parts of
the salvation presentationgray for sin, red for the blood of Christ, white for
forgiveness, green for Christian growth and gold for eternal life.
Family to Family, North American Mission Board.
Click here for more details.
Gods Special Plan Childrens Witnessing Booklet,
North American Mission Board. Excellent for presenting the gospel to your
child. Includes questions to help you determine if your child is ready to
receive Christ and an interactive gospel presentation written in language your
child can understand and respond to.
Parents Guide to the Spiritual Growth of
Children: Helping Your Child Develop a Personal Faith, edited by John
Trent, Ph.D., Rick Osborne and Kurt Bruner, Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
From Focus on the Family, this book tells how parents can pass their spiritual
legacy to their children with practical ideas that can be used immediately.
Includes valuable information on developmental stages of children and
understanding how to reach them for Christ in age-appropriate ways.
77 Talks for 21st Century Kids: Messages With a Meaning for 8-12 Year
Olds by Chris Chesterton, Monarch Books, 2001. Chris Chesterton of England
compiled 77 talks to illustrate spiritual principles you want to convey to
children or grandchildren. Each includes a theme, description of items needed
for the illustration, a script to use, plus each talk closes with a prayer or
thought to ponder. Could be used for family devotions, as object lessons in
Sunday school or in a childrens sermon.
Dr. Moms Prescription for Preschoolers: Seven
Essentials for the Formative Years by Marianne Neifert, M.D., Zondervan
Publishing House, 2001. Dr. Marianne Neifert, pediatrician and child rearing
authority, explains areas covered in On Mission Parenting 101The
Essentials of Early Child Development in chapter two, and The Spiritual
Essentials: Passing on Your Faith in chapter three. Gives insights into
developmental stages of preschoolers to show reasons children act the way they
do. Presents effective ways to share your faith with children and
Light Their Fire for God: Seven Powerful
Virtues for Your Kids by Anne and David Harper, Moody Press, 2001. The
Harpers seven virtues are taken from 2 Peter 1:5-7goodness, knowledge,
self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Describes
these virtues as seven coals that, when stacked on top of each other and fueled
with encouragement and positive words, have the ability to ignite a fire.
Includes a section called Grandparents in Action with helpful pointers in
influencing your grandchildren for Christ.
The Parent Survival Guide: Positive Solutions to 41 Common Kid
Problems by Dr. Todd Cartmell, Zondervan Publishing House, 2001. This book
can offer hope and help for parents facing a rebellious stage in their
children. Addresses common problems at home, in the classroom and with peers.
Teaches parents how to reach their children during these difficult times. Helps
parents when they feel they are losing control of their children.
World Proofing Your Kids: Helping Moms Prepare
Their Kids to Navigate Todays Turbulent Times by Lael F. Arrington,
Crossway Books, 1997. Assists parents and grandparents in understanding how
their Christian worldview influences the faith they pass along. Explains the
role of the Bible in talking about salvation with children. Points to helpful
resources that teach children important concepts for spiritual growth.
To order the resources on pages 19-21, call 800-448-8032, visit
www.lifewaystores.com or visit your
local LifeWay Christian Store.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC