Just as sad as mistakenly raising cultural Christians who know the talk but can’t walk the walk because they have not yet accepted Christ as Savior, is the mistake of having a child in our family or classroom who has accepted Christ as Savior and yet we don’t help them discover and use their spiritual gifts. We hamstring their spiritual muscles and hamper their growth in Christ when we don’t help them learn how to spiritually exercise.
When a person believes in Christ He is placed into the body of Christ. He is born again and given spiritual gifts. However, most churches function as though these gifts can only be used by adults. If God saves the child, then God will also gift the child to have a part in edifying the saints. Obviously, they aren’t ready for leadership positions but they can certainly be helpers. In this way, they become apprentices to those who have the same gifts in the church, working alongside them, learning to love serving Jesus.
“Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each person, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. . . It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.”1 Corinthians 12:4-7;11
I was saved at 6 but didn’t get a chance to start developing my gifts until as a teenager someone introduced me to Child Evangelism Fellowship. I learned to love God’s Word in a deeper way by using my gifts. Alongside me sharing the Gospel and teaching were 12 and 13-year-old boys and girls, helpers, serving Jesus. Oh, that someone had told me I could have started that young!
I also have the gift of evangelism. In first grade, I brought my best friend to church and drug her down the aisle because I so desperately wanted her to be saved. We stood there in front of my 6’ 2” pastor looking way up at him. My friend began to cry.
Pastor: “Why did you come forward?”
My friend whimpering: “Because she made me.”
Obviously, she didn’t get saved. It didn’t stop me though. When the Pastor encouraged us all to take tracts from the tract rack and pass them out to our friends, I obeyed whole heartedly. I could only reach the bottom row but I took a handful to school the next day. My principle called my folks asking them to stop my passing out tracts about why Baptists don’t dance. Instead of reprimanding what if they had seen that gift in me and started early to train me to use my gifts even at six to help build the body of Christ?
“It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. Ephesians 4:11-13
The gifts are given to equip the saints for the work of the ministry to make us mature believers becoming more like Jesus. Do we want our children to be rock solid believers? How do they get that way? Ephesians 4 says they get there by using their Spiritual Gifts in the context of the body of Christ.
“So, we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.” Ephesians 4:14-16