Leading a Child to Christ

Posted on Mar 22 2013 - 9:48pm by Rebekah Schrepfer


One of the greatest joys in the Christian life is to lead someone to the saving knowledge of Christ.  It has been my privilege to lead a few people to Christ including some children.  During this Easter season, it is common for children to have a lot of questions.  The Easter story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the crux of the salvation message, and it is likely that young children will be very open to the truth of this gospel.  Children can and do believe in Jesus.  The Lord encouraged the children to come to Him in Matthew 19:13-15.  “But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He promised in John 6:37 that anyone who truly believes and calls on the Lord to save him will be saved.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  There are some special considerations that are needed when talking to children about belief in Christ for their salvation.  Please follow me through a hypothetical witnessing experience with a child.  These thoughts I have compiled from what Scripture says about the salvation of souls, my own experience in leading children to Christ, and an outline that was given to me in a presentation by Mrs. Martha Hartog, a wonderful godly lady whom I admire very much.


Truths to remember

Children are vulnerable to suggestion, and true faith in Christ cannot be coerced.  It must be a freewill decision, or it is not true.  Wait for the child to tell you in his own words about his faith in Jesus’ death on the cross, and whether he wants to be saved.  We don’t want a child to feel anxious or hurried.  It will likely take several conversations for the pertinent truths to be understood if he is very young.  Many young children will not display much emotion, and they may just want to go play afterwards.  My son was very matter-of-fact about it when he was saved.  But he definitely knew what to do, and when he wanted to…he did it.  It was that simple.

If a salvation invitation is presented to a group of kids, in Jr. Church or VBS, we want to be careful not to ask for a mass response.  It is better to ask the children to raise their hand or look up while the other kids have their heads bowed if they want to talk to someone about being saved.  Or perhaps we might ask any kids who want to know more to remain in the class while the rest go to the next activity.  Once in a VBS lesson time, a teacher was giving the gospel, and one little 5 year old girl kept asking a lot of questions about why Jesus had to die.  So the teacher asked her if she’d like to go with Miss Rebekah to talk more about that, and she did and later she was saved.  Several of the other kids wanted to come too of course, but we could tell it was just because they knew that their friend was going to do something special.

Faith happens in the heart…it is not something we see.  The prayer itself does not save him.  It’s not a magic formula.  However, we can see the fruit of what has happened inside.  This is an important concept to remember.  If we determine after much discussion that a child truly does believe that Jesus died on the cross to save him from his sins, and that he wants to pray to ask Jesus to wash that sin away, then likely the conversion has already taken place in his heart.  We are there to help the child to have a memorable experience, a time when he can look back and say, “I remember when I was saved.”  “One plants, another waters, and another reaps, but God gives the increase.” 

Young children have difficulty understanding metaphors or word pictures.  They tend to understand words very literally.  Therefore we ought to avoid phrases like these:

  • “Ask Jesus to come into your heart.”  This one I smile at, because my 3 year old daughter was confused by this once.  I had told her that Jesus will come and live inside us, which is true.  The Holy Spirit does come to indwell us at salvation.  So she asked, “Does he go in my mouth?”  After all, how else does something get “inside me?”
  • “Give your heart to Jesus.” or  “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart.”
  • “Be washed in Jesus blood.”  Now, when my almost 5 year old son was just starting to learn what salvation was, I used the phrase, “Jesus can wash away your sins if you ask him,” and he understood that concept.  But I know my kids would have been grossed out if I had talked about blood like that.
  • “Surrender your all to be saved.”  or “Commit your life to Jesus.”  These are adult colloquialisms.
  • “Ask Jesus to save you so that you can be a member of God’s family.”  When my son was young, he told us he didn’t want to go to heaven because he just wanted to stay home.  The concept of God’s family will be a difficult one for kids whose home life is happy.

Remember that you must be a Christian yourself to lead someone else to the Lord.  If you find after reading this that you have never had a conversion experience yourself, please contact me.  I would love to pray with you.  However, you may also ask the Lord to save you without anyone else around in the privacy of your own home.  If you do that, please find a Bible believing church to contact and attend.  Talk with the pastor there and begin the road of discipleship.  I can also help direct you to a good church near you.

When a child responds to an invitation

Okay, so after a conversation with a child, or after an invitation in Jr. Church or VBS, a child comes to you wanting to be saved.  Now what do you do?  The following steps and suggested questions to ask will be helpful in determining if true faith is present.

  • Ask, “Why have you come?” or “What is it that you would like to do?”  Let him tell you in his own words.  After he answers yes, you might ask, “Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior before?”
    • If he comes for reasons other than to be saved, then provide him with a positive spiritual experience.
      • He may need to confess sin (1 John 1:9)
      • He may need assurance of his salvation (John 3:16; 6:37)
  • If he has come to receive Christ as his savior then ask these questions…
    • “Why do you need to be saved?”
    • “What did Jesus do for you?”
  • Show him a few verses explaining the plan of salvation.  Here is the Romans Road.
    • Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  The child must understand that he himself is a sinner, and how that relates to God.  For a few months, I noticed that my son would feel very guilty whenever he’d get in trouble.  He’d say, “It’s all my fault!” and be pretty distraught.  I would then explain to him that it is the sin inside him and me that makes us unclean and dirty inside (I hated using the word “dirty” but he understood that and I couldn’t think off the top of my head of a simpler term for what sin does to us.)  Then I’d also explain that God is perfect.  Isn’t that amazing?!  He doesn’t have ANY sin, and God can’t let any sin into heaven with him.  So we can’t be with God in heaven after we die if we have sin inside us.  I would make these points to him as often as it was appropriate to bring it up.
      • “God tells us in the Bible that we are all sinners–including you and me!”
      • “We cannot measure up to such a holy God.”
      • “God is completely without sin and cannot have sin around Him at all.”
    • A little rabbit trail…It is a common practice in the world to regard children as innocent angels, to always praise them and never belittle them.  The world may think that it is horrible that I told my son that he is full of sin.  But we must understand that it was done in a very gentle and loving way.  (Eph. 4:15)  I approached it in more of a sad tone rather than a condemning tone, because his own heart will condemn him as he begins to understand the seriousness of his sin.  He wanted to know why he felt so bad when he did wrong.  This is why loving and consistent discipline is so important!  A child will never know his need of a Savior if he thinks he is a perfect little angel.  While it is profitable to encourage and love our children verbally and openly, it is also necessary to teach them the truth about who he is and who mommy is, and daddy, and everybody in the world.  It is important that he knows that all of us have a sin problem that needs to be solved.
  • Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…”  Explain to him what sin is and that there is serious payment or judgment for sin.  Explain that only God can save us from this terrible punishment.  While I didn’t dwell on the gory details of hell, I did not leave out this important concept.  I would simply say that hell is a terrible place where we go if we do not ask to be saved.  The child must understand that his sin is a very serious problem.  So without frightening the child, we do want them to think and consider what is at stake.  He may be a little afraid of hell, but you don’t want him to be so afraid that he can’t think beyond that to the next step.  You want his mind to be engaged, not merely his emotions.
    • “Sin is anything you do or say or think that is against God and the Bible.”
    • “The punishment we deserve for our sin is separation from God in Hell.”
  • Romans 6:23  “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Explain that  God’s gift to us is salvation from our sins through Jesus death on the cross.
    • Because Jesus died on the cross, He made it so he can wash away your sins.
    • Jesus gives us a free gift;  He rescues us from our sin.
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have evelasting life.”  1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered unto you all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”  Show him what Christ did to save him.
    • “God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins.”
    • “Then God brought Jesus back to life after three days.”
  • John 3:16 or John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”  Show him how he can be saved.
    • “God can wash away your sins, if you ask him.”
    • You can pray and ask Jesus to wash away your sins.”
    • “You can be saved from the punishment of your sins if you believe in Jesus, if you trust Him to save you.”
  • Ask him, “Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?” or, “Do you believe that Jesus can wash away your sins?” and after that ask, “Do you want to ask Jesus to save you?”  or “Do you want to ask Jesus to wash away your sins right now?”  When I asked my son this, he thought for a second and shook his head, no.  It is important to allow for a free choice.  Do not pressure him if he’s not ready.  I told my son, “Okay.  If you want to pray to ask Jesus to wash away your sins, then you come to me and I will pray with you.”  If a child answers Yes to both questions, then encourage him to pray.
    • “Tell Jesus that you believe Jesus died for your sins, and ask Him to save you from your sins.”
    • “Tell Jesus thank you for dying on the cross so that He could wash away your sins.  Ask Jesus to wash away your sins.”
  • After the child prays, then you should pray thanking God for Jesus’ death on the cross and for His resurrection from the dead.  Thank Him that the child has believed in Jesus to save him from his sins.  After several conversations with my son in one day, and after about a 2 hour break in the talks with him (he had a lot of questions), Matthew came to me and quickly said, “I want to ask Jesus to wash away the sins from -inside me…Dear Jesus, please wash away the sins from inside me.  Amen.”  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise!   But he knew what he wanted to do, and so he did it.  He smiled and I smiled at him.  Then he went on to play.  It was very simple, but that is how he typically prays anyway.

After the salvation experience

It is helpful to explain the benefits of salvation, and it is preferable to do this immediately after the prayer if this is a formal invitation time.  In a home setting, you may have other opportunities to educate him in further Christian truths.

  • Everlasting life (John 3:16)
  • Membership in God’s family (John 1:12)

You may want to write down the date he got saved in his Bible and the verses you used.  Maybe even have him memorize one of the verses.  This is all to make it a memorable time for him.  This is helpful for when he is older and may not remember the exact words he used or the way he felt, etc.  Although it is not the experience that saves him (only God saves!), we simply want to make it an easy time for him to remember. Another way to help him know that this is a very special thing, is to have him tell someone.  His Sunday School teacher, his Christian school teacher, his grandparents, etc.


Discipling a Saved Child

It is now time for the life-long process of Christian growth to begin.  One of the first things to learn is how to deal with sin in his life from now on.  He must learn to confess his sins in order to keep a good relationship between himself and God.  (1 John 1:9)  Reading the Bible and praying daily are also basic Christian disciplines.  Church attendance is necessary not only for obedience to God’s command (Heb 10:25), but also for continued growth in Bible knowledge and in service experience.  Show him that it is a wonderful thing to tell others how Jesus washed away his sins, and that God can do the same thing for them too.

When he is ready, teach him about the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.  For very young children, it is wise to watch for further fruit to confirm that he has truly accepted Christ as his Savior before having him participate in these ordinances.  Many churches allow children to join into membership only at a certain age, 16 or 18 etc.  So for older children this is something to talk with them about.

What a blessing it is to see the simple faith of a child!  I hope this is a help to you as you work with your own children, or those with whom you come in contact.

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