“Oh, Mama,” enthused my then four-year-old son, “You love Jesus, and I love Jesus, and … oh, everyone loves Jesus!”
Hesitantly, I offered, “Well, Jed, it’s true that we love Jesus, but … not everyone loves Jesus.”
Jed’s eyes grew wide. Planting his hands on his hips, he demanded, “Who doesn’t love Jesus?”
I decided it best to give my pre-schooler a concrete example.”You know Mikey?” I ventured, referring to young boy in the neighborhood. “I don’t think he knows very much about Jesus … wait, Jed, come back! Let’s talk about this!”
With evangelistic fervor, my four-year-old would have marched across the street to tell our young heathen friend a thing or two.
How do you explain to your sheltered but zealous child that there’s a whole world full of people who don’t love and serve God the way your family does?
How do you explain it when your children’s friends’ parents live together without being married, or live with a same-sex partner?
How do you explain why some people believe there is no God?
In other words, how to you bring together grace and truth in spiritual conversations with your kids in such a way that they understand the truth, but extend grace to others?
Teaching children how to share the gospel is a matter of discipleship. You as the parent must instruct and model how to share the love of Jesus with others.
This post will focus on the “modeling” piece.
Children watch parents more than we realize. As the adage goes, more is “caught than taught.” True, that.
My kids were accustomed to Mama saying crazy things like, “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. God told me to talk to that couple over there.”
They were in the Bible-based Christmas play we put on for the neighborhood kids in December.
They helped me bake pumpkin cookies and deliver them via their little red wagon to all our neighbors when we opted out of Halloween (but not out of blessing other families with a special treat).
They heard us praying over the families in our neighborhood.They saw how we reached out to others and looked for opportunities to have God-conversations.
Although we surely missed many opportunities and fumbled through many others, our kids saw that sharing the gospel was a priority to us.
I’m hoping that for the most part, they saw both truth and grace in the way we treated others.
As it turns out, although I didn’t let Jed march across the street that day to Mikey’s house, Mikey did hear about Jesus.
We invited all the neighborhood kids over to our house every week when our small group got together. I’d serve punch and cookies, and then the kids would join us for worship, after which they would watch a Bible story video and do an activity.
Mikey even came to church with us a time or two and let us pray for him. As a child with a difficult home life, he soaked up the love of God like a sponge. Jed and his brothers were part of this.
As you model a lifestyle of truth combined with grace to your kids, explain to them what you’re up to. Include them as much as possible.
You’ll be surprised by how much they “catch.”