I was in the first month of working for a church. I was young. I had no children. I was sat in the home of a couple from church (who I had only just met). That week their five year old had told them a story from school. She had got together with her best friend from church and had cornered a boy from their class. With their prey unable to leave, she told him, “You’re going to hell if you don’t become a Christian.”
There was a silence. My heart was in my mouth. My eyes bulged. I thought they were going to say, “That is the problem with our church. We’re raising closed-minded, bigoted children.”
Instead, they said, “She wants to be an evangelist! We told her a few other ways she could do it, but isn’t it great that she wants to tell others?”
I was stunned. This was the beginning of seeing how parents can do outreach with their children. Evangelism always takes courage. The awkwardness can be real. The goal is worth it: Whole families turning to Christ. Those families are best reached by Christian families.
If your church is taking part in the Passion for Life initiative, please involve your children. It is not just an opportunity for families to step out in faith, it is also an opportunity to help parents raise their children to be evangelists. And as ever, parenting brutally reveals our priorities. Do I want my child to be an evangelist?
With a pre-schooler, you make friends
A new baby often shows us that we have no idea how to be a parent! We need help, support and advice. Ideally, that care would be local because it’s hard to travel with young children. This is why you talk to strangers as you push a swing or as you walk the streets with a screaming baby. Let your friends benefit from your amazingly supportive church family. Show them that having a baby does not need to be lonely, they can have a community. They need help!
With a 5-11 year old, you partner
At school, your children are making friends on their own. Partner with them as they learn how to show Jesus Christ to those friends. Get to know the parents of their friends. These are the families that your family can then pray for and hang out with.
Talk to your children about who to invite to church services, events or clubs. Talk to them about what this could mean for friends and their families. Pray with them. And when their friends can’t come, don’t want to come, or say they’ll come but don’t turn up, acknowledge your child’s disappointment, share their sadness and then pray some more.
With a teen, you support
Your children have grown up. You are less likely to know their school friends. You are much less likely to know their friends’ parents. The responsibility for their evangelism is now theirs and not yours.
Your children are now deciding if they want their friends to hear the gospel, and how they might make that happen. Support them. Don’t tell them what to do. Ask them good questions. Help them with their questions. You can make it a normal topic of conversation, and you can pray for them, and with them.
As with all parenting, practice what you preach. Get every kind of person around your table for meals. Exclude none. Love freely. Talk honestly. Listen well. Let’s reach out to other families with the gospel, together with the whole of our own family.
Check out more articles from the Faith in Kids team in our Mission Ideas area.
This article first appeared in the March 2022 edition of Evangelicals Now.