by Alvin Gan
One of the most important things we can do when presenting the gospel to kids is to show love and respect. Small gestures that mirror God’s loving nature can make a huge difference to how a child responds to the message of salvation.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you share the good news with children:
Address the Child by Name
Addressing a child by name shows that you value the child as a unique individual, someone that is important and of worth. Children will be so much more ready to listen when they feel respected. It is of course extremely important that you remember the child’s name! You should never have to ask the child’s name again midway through sharing the gospel.
There may be instances where you are unsure of how a name should be pronounced. (This occurs commonly in cross-cultural missions.) Be sure to ask and clarify whenever you’re in doubt. Few things irritate a child more than his or her name being mispronounced.
If possible, lower yourself to be eye level with the child. Being on the same physical level as a child often helps them feel safer and more connected to you. Maintain eye contact and smile as much as possible. This communicates to them that you are there for them and really paying attention to them.
As you share the gospel with a child, avoid body language that may give the impression of discomfort or disinterest. These may include folding your arms, foot tapping and fidgeting. Children can be remarkably perceptive and are often quick to pick up on these negative non-verbal cues.
Listen. Really Listen
Sharing the gospel with a child should be a two way conversation. And you must remember that listening to a child is not the same as simply allowing the child to speak.
Pay careful attention to the child, and if possible, include what the child says in your gospel presentation. For instance, if you learn that the child’s favourite animal is the elephant, you can mention that God created elephants. Echoing the information gathered from your conversation demonstrates that you value the child and what he or she says.
Never Check Your Phone or Watch
Always give your full attention when you’re sharing the gospel with a child. (Actually, we should be giving them our full attention regardless of what we’re talking about!) This means that you should leave your mobile phones on “silent”. Or better yet, don’t carry it with you.
You do not want to inadvertently convey that you would rather be doing something else. This also means that you should resist the urge to constantly check your watch.