One of the marks of our ministry has been our emphasis on reaching children. For 13 years, I devoted a great portion of my summers to the Junior Camps of the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Most weeks anywhere from 10-30 boys and girls would pray to be saved. For the past 16 years, we have partnered with a number of young evangelists whose responsibilities, among other things, involved conducting children’s revival services in conjunction with our regular ones. Evangelist Micah Self has served in this capacity for several years now and has been used of God to impact hundreds of boys and girls with the gospel. Evangelists David Corn, Adrian Burden, and Brent Gellos have been a few of the others who served with us in that capacity. For the record, I believe in, promote, invest in, defend, and encourage the salvation of children. I do so for these reasons.
It is Biblical.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth . . .
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:10-14 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost . . . Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Make sure you examine the verses that I skipped.
It is Historical.
Moses was concerned about our reaching the children (read carefully Deuteronomy 6). Joshua was as well (read carefully Joshua 24). Solomon was (consider Proverbs 22:6 and Ecclesiastes 12:1). Jesus was too (see the verses above). D.L. Moody began his worldwide ministry with an emphasis on reaching children. The Sunday School movement was begun by Robert Raikes as a means for teaching children the Bible as well as to read and write. Charles Spurgeon wrote an entire book on the subject. Come Ye Children is an excellent book! He even postulated that any child that was properly taught the Bible could easily trust Christ as Savior by the age of 5! Here is an excerpt from a sermon he preached:
“Children need to learn the doctrine of the Cross that they may find immediate salvation. I thank God that in our Sunday school we believe in the salvation of children as children! How very many has it been my joy to see of boys and girls who have come forward to confess their faith in Christ! And I again wish to say that the best converts, the clearest converts, the most intelligent converts we have ever had have been the young ones!
—1887, Sermon #1988
History is also a record of may who were saved while they were quite young.
“Leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, Christian psychologist, author and founder of Focus on the Family was saved at age 3; Amy Carmichael, missionary to India was saved at age 3; Jonathan Edwards, well-known preacher was saved at age 7; Matthew Henry age 11; Dr. Isaac Watts, hymn writer, saved at age 9; Corrie Ten Boom was saved at age 5; Bill Gothard was saved at age 10; Jim Elliot was saved at age 6; Max Lucado was saved at age 10; Dr. Charles Stanley was saved at age 12; ; Henrietta Mears was saved at age 5; the writer, a child from an unsaved home, was saved at age 7 and the list goes on!” -From a paper that was presented at the Children’s Spirituality Conference at Concordia University in June, 2006. You can find the entire paper here: www.europeanea.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Child-Evangelism.doc
It is too often downplayed and attacked.
In our ministry, we have, on occasion, been asked NOT to lead children to Christ. The reasons vary: they are too young; only parents should do that, they will probably just have to get re-saved in their teen years anyway; many of our teens think they are saved because they prayed a prayer in their youth, but their lives prove they are not; and so forth. Haven’t we all heard sermons that were specifically designed to make people doubt, especially the ones who had professed faith in their youth? I have always believed, that when our presentation of the gospel ends up putting the focus on “us and what we did” instead of on “Christ and what He did,” something is wrong with our presentation of the gospel. One Christian brother even derided the revival in Burlington, NC because many of the converts were children who would likely not be taught “long-term spiritual progress.” Seriously? Is that a reason to deride their getting saved? Isn’t that a bigger reason to call for revival in the churches and homes rather than to discourage their salvation? Surely it is!
Salvation is really pretty simple. It isn’t cheap because of the price that was paid by our Savior. It is free, however, simply because He paid that price. Anyone, even children, who will trust in Him will be saved! Every time. Without exception. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” is how Paul stated it in Philippi. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast” is how he stated it in Ephesus. “Suffer the little children to come uno me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” is how our Savior said it. “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as little child, he shall not enter therein” is another way He said it.
So reach children with the gospel. Pray about it. Teach them. Witness to them. Make no apologies about it. And for crying out loud, let’s stop down-playing their conversions!
Thanks for reading,