Counseling Children for Salvation
by Tina Busenitz
Leading a child to Jesus can be both exciting — and frightening. What if you say the wrong thing? What if she asks a question that you don’t know the answer to? How do you know if the child is sincere?
Those are great questions! When counseling a child for salvation your very first step is to call upon the One who knows all things and promises to help you. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things…” (ESV) You need the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom in counseling the child and you need the Holy Spirit to be working in the heart of the child.
Irvin Overholtzer, founder of Child Evangelism Fellowship® said, “At every step in leading a child to Christ, pray for, look for and expect the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, to reveal the truth of the Gospel and to illumine the child’s mind so he can grasp the saving truth.” Ask the Holy Spirit to convict the child of sin and to make the Gospel clear to him, then trust the Holy Spirit to work.
You will need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in discerning what the child is understanding concerning salvation and if he is sincere. One thing to remember, however, is that none of us can truly grasp or have full understanding of the amazing grace of God and the salvation He so kindly offers to each of us. But you can ask some questions of the child to see if he has an understanding of foundational truths of the Gospel.
But what if the child says “no”?
Mona Lisa was one of those children. When I asked if she had sinned she looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said, “no”. Now Mona Lisa wasn’t one of the easiest children in our Good News Club® so this answer was quite surprising! I asked her if she had ever fought with her brother. Once again with sincerity in those beautiful eyes she said, “no”. “Did she obey her mom every time she was told to do something?” A sincere “yes” was the answer. I could have tried to be the Holy Spirit to convict Mona Lisa of her sin pointing out things I’d seen in her life but that would not have brought about a heartfelt conviction. Mona Lisa needed to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and truly see her sin before she was ready for a Savior.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things…” –John 14:26 ESV
When a child doesn’t understand she has sinned or is not willing to admit it, then give her a Gospel tract and pray for her that God would reveal the truth to her. Be sure to follow-up later if possible to see if the child has any questions or would like to talk with you more.
Once a child has admitted his sin, continue with more thought-provoking questions about who Jesus is and what He did on the cross such as: Who is Jesus? What did He do for you? Why did He die on the cross? You will want to clarify any misconceptions the child has and share a Scripture passage like I Corinthians 15:3,4, explaining to the child that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for her sins.
Then comes the most important part – the invitation. Be sure to have your Bible marked and ready! Acts 16:31 is a great invitation verse because it tells what God’s requirement of man is and what He promises. Read the verse from your Bible so the child can see that the words are from God’s Word. Make sure that the child understands that it is through believing in the Lord Jesus that he can be saved. Explain that to believe means to trust completely in what Jesus did and that Jesus is the only way for him to be saved. Further point out that God promises that all who believe will be saved – not separated from God but will have a friendship with God that starts now and lasts forever.
At this point ask the child if he believes in Jesus and what He did for him?
If the child answers “yes” then ask if he would like to tell God that he believes. Encourage the child to pray out loud, but if he wants to pray silently don’t pressure him.
Some important things to remember:
- Don’t use terminology that isn’t in Scripture like “ask Jesus into your heart”. Use the terminology that is in the invitation verse.
- Don’t give the impression that the child only needs to say a prayer and he will be saved. It isn’t a prayer that saves but believing in Jesus – trusting in Him alone for salvation.
Make sure that the child understands that it is through believing in the Lord Jesus that he can be saved.
7-year old Jason came to tell me that he wanted to believe in Jesus. Before I could ask any questions he dropped to his knees, folded his hands to pray and silently talked to God. He was quite serious and prayed long. Finally, when he stood back up I asked, “Jason, did you just now tell God that you believe in Jesus?” to which he replied, “Yes. I asked Him to forgive me of my sins and I THINK HE IS DOING IT RIGHT NOW!”
When a child is ready to believe, it is exciting to see the Holy Spirit’s work and a heart willing to respond!
What is next after believing? What should the child know right away that can help him now that he is saved?
Here’s some things that are important to go over with the new believer:
- Reread the invitation verse (like Acts 16:31) reminding the child that if he believed in Jesus then he is saved. It is God’s promise.
- Share Hebrews 13:5b “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” with the child. Explain that when he truly believes then God the Holy Spirit is with Him always. He will never be alone!
- Show the child Hebrews 13:6a “The Lord is my Helper”. Let the child know that God will help him to live a life pleasing to God. He can ask God for help to win over sin.
A friend of mine was counseling a little boy who had just believed in Jesus. He told the boy, “The Lord is your Helper. He will help you to win over sin. But you will sin.” To which the little boy replied, “Well then God isn’t a very good Helper, is He?”
Be clear in teaching that God will help him win over sin, but there will be times when he chooses to sin. Read and explain I John 1:9 with the child, teaching him how to confess his sins immediately when he recognizes he has displeased God. To confess means to agree with God that what was done was wrong. When he confesses his sin, God promises to forgive Him!
- Give the child ideas on how he can get to know God better like going to Sunday school and church, reading his Bible, talking to God every day, and sharing with others what Jesus has done for him. Be sure to get a Bible for a child who does not have one of his own. Guide him in finding the book of Mark in the New Testament. That’s a great place to start reading and learning more about Jesus.
- Give the child a Gospel tract that is designed for children so that he can review what he learned later. Visit CEFpress.com to see what is available and works well with kids.
- Pray for the child before he leaves your counseling time.
- Look for opportunities to help the child grow in his new faith!
Counseling a child for salvation doesn’t have to be frightening. In fact, it can be one of the most exciting things you do! Pray for, look for, and expect the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of the child and through you. Ask God to give you the opportunity to counsel a child for salvation soon.
Now you’re ready to counsel a child for salvation!
If you need tracts that are designed for children visit CEF Press online.