How to Counsel Children About Salvation
When a Child Responds to a Gospel Invitation
Counseling with a child at church begins as soon as he responds to a invitation. Too often the scenario happens like this: The child walks down the aisle and is met by the pastor. The pastor says something like, “Would you like to be saved today?” The child nods yes. Next he may ask, “Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins?”The child nods affirmatively again. The pastor then says, “Do you want Jesus to come into your heart today?” The child nods again. At this point either the pastor usually leads the child in “The Sinner’s Prayer.”
Counseling a Child About Salvation
If the pastor has handled things himself up to this point, this is generally when he hands the child over to the counseling staff. Then they begin reading through a tiny book with tiny print written for an adult, (a gospel tract.) (Some churches have tracts for kids that they read from.) The child tries to absorb all of this while the counselor finishes reading the tract to him. Then they pray, and the child goes out to meet his happy and proud parents. Next Sunday he is baptized.
This process must be analyzed in sections. Let’s start back at the invitation. Instead of asking the child “yes” or “no” questions, it is much better to ask him or her to express their feelings. Instead of leading her with a question like, “Emily, have you come forward for salvation today?” It is much better just to ask, “Emily, why have you come forward today?” Once in the counseling room, the counselor can ask again, “Emily, why have you come forward today?” If the child says something like, “Because I want to get baptized,” it is a little red flag that she might be getting a little ahead of herself. In this case much care should be taken to insure that Emily really does understand salvation and is not pinning her hopes on baptism to save her.
The Salvation Qualifying Question
I always like to ask the question, “If your friend asked you how she could become a Christian, what would you tell her?” If the child says something like, “I don’t know,” you can follow up with, “Well, what do you think you would say?” It is important to be patient and allow the child time to express himself. At any rate, do not go forward into reading tracts or saying prayers until the child can articulate something of what he or she believes about the process of becoming a Christian. That enables you to shore up any weak spots as you counsel. If the child says something like, “You have to go to church,” or “be baptized,” or “be good,” then you know you must go back to the beginning with this child and clear up these wrong ideas before proceeding.
If this is necessary, just make sure that you affirm the child and don’t make him or her feel like he or she “got a wrong answer,” or is in trouble. Give him or her hugs and brag on him or her for the progress that they are making. The process of helping children through the process of salvation is addressed more fully in my e-book entitled, How to Talk to a Child About Salvation. You can go to the salvationkids store and get it for $7.95, or you can sign up for the
and download it for free! ; )
If It Is Obvious The Child Is Not Ready For Salvation
Remember that you should always affirm the child for coming forward. Even if he or she does not fully understand yet, they should be praised for the step they have taken in the process of salvation. You can say, “Jimmy, I am so happy that you came forward today. I am going to pray for you now, and let’s get together and talk about this more in a week or so, OK?” In your prayer you can say something like this: “Dear God, Thank you so much for Jimmy, and his desire to know You. I pray that you will keep helping him learn about you and that he will come to know you personally very soon. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The following links address other issues of counseling with children.