“I shared the gospel; but when it came to the invitation, several kids raised their hands who I don’t think were really ready. How do I handle this?”
Group invitations to follow Christ can be tricky. Especially if you ask them to publicly indicate their decision. Here is what I typically end up with:
- First is the kid that was too busy carrying on their own conversation about their mom’s speeding ticket or something to hear what I said.
- Next, is the child I was certain had already accepted Jesus as their Savior and had even been baptized but has just indicated they accepted Jesus for the first time.
- My personal favorite, the schizophrenic child, who raised their hand for every response.
- Then the few who I feel certain are authentic responders because they paid attention and even answered a question or two.
So what does this mean? Which one is saved
I don’t know! No one can truly know but God. Our job, as disciples of Jesus, is to share the Truth with everyone we can and trust God for the results.
It is not for us to determine who is ready; and we certainly do not want to turn someone away who might truly be ready.
What we may see as a good candidate may not really be. The attentive child who knew answers may have only repeated what he heard in Sunday School but have no clue what it means.
The rambunctious poster child for ADHD, who seemed like she wasn’t paying attention may have been sharing the speeding ticket story because she really understood sin and was sharing an example.
The child who previously accepted Jesus as their Savior and thinks he needs to now, may just have some questions. Ask them about it. There may be reasons why they are wanting to respond again.
Here are the top three that I have encountered:
- Terminology Confusion: Churchy words and phrases can be confusing. If the previous gospel presenter ask them to Trust Jesus as their Savior and you offered them the chance to ask Jesus in their heart, this may seem like two different things and confuse the child. They won’t want to reject Jesus and may think they need to do both.
- Wrestling with Disobedience: Children will experience times when they don’t “feel” saved and may wonder if they need to do it again. Satan loves to plant doubt. Talk to them about the reason behind their feeling of not being saved. Maybe they are having trouble breaking old habits or saying “no” to temptations to be disobedient. Explain to them that we all have the trouble of still wanting to do things we shouldn’t and sometimes that doesn’t go away quickly (the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41) Thankfully, salvation is a FACT not a FEELING.
- Not Really Saved: It is possible for a four year old to give their heart to God and never doubt their decision and truly grow in their faith; however, there may be a child who accepted Christ at four but, now that they are older and have a better understanding, feel they were not really saved and desire to do so now. There will be children who go through the motions of what is expected but really not understand the significance of what they are doing. If this is the case and the child feels like they need to respond now, let them.
Only God can see a person’s heart; and thankfully, the outcome is in His hands.
So what can you do? Keep sharing the gospel. Trust the Holy Spirit to work through you in connecting Truth to these children.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”