Helping Children GROW
by Maribeth Pipkorn
Amanda and Haley received Christ as their Savior in my class. But the following week, when the invitation for salvation was given, they responded again. These girls weren’t struggling with assurance of their salvation; instead, they had questions about how to live out their newfound faith.
What does God want me to do when someone bullies me?” “I keep disobeying my mom even though I know God wants me to obey. How can I do the right thing?” “I know I’m supposed to tell others about Jesus, but I don’t know how. What should I say?”
What an exciting opportunity to walk with these girls week by week as they learned how to walk with Jesus!
The saved children in your class also need your help to grow in their relationships with God. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). You can start by teaching them the following basic steps of growth:
Go to church and Sunday School.
Of course, it’s not enough to just be physically present in the church building each week. We want our students to listen, learn, and apply what they’re learning to their lives! Consider providing a take-home activity in your class to help the children apply each week’s lesson. Take-home activities might include challenging them to write a smiley face on the calendar every day that they prayed following a lesson on prayer or finding one kind thing they can do for someone each day following a lesson on kindness. One of my favorite take-home activities was when I encouraged the children in my class to make a list of ten things they were thankful for following a lesson on gratitude. Several came back with lists of 15, 20, or 30 things—once they started; they realized how blessed they really were!
Read the Bible.
The Bible is a big book! Even for adults, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Help children in your class by giving them ideas on what to read. They could:
- Work through one of the Gospels over a semester, by reading five verses each day.
- Read Psalm 119 checking off each verse as they read it. Provide a print out with a box for each verse for them to check. Encourage them to try to finish the whole chapter by the end of the month.
- Read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with their age (i.e., if you’re seven years old, read Proverbs 7).
Giving children a short, manageable goal can help motivate them to start reading the Bible on their own, but don’t be surprised if the drama of God’s Word captivates them and keeps them reading! I once challenged a fifth-grade boy to read ten verses from the book of Mark every day. He came back to class the next week and said, “Okay, I finished the whole book of Mark! What should I read next?”
You can also provide your students with a children’s devotional book to help guide their daily time in God’s Word. CEF Press® has 60-day Wonder Devotional books available for older students (ages nine to twelve) and colorful 30-day Every Day With God devotional books available for younger students (ages six to eight).
Giving children a short, manageable goal can help motivate them to start reading the Bible on their own, but don’t be surprised if the drama of God’s Word captivates them and keeps them reading!
For many children, their only experience of prayer is quoting “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest” before meals or “Now I lay me down to sleep” at night. Help them understand that prayer is a conversation with God and that He wants to know what’s on their hearts. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). Give your students the opportunity to practice different types of prayer in your class: praising God for His goodness, confessing sin to Him, asking Him for help, or interceding for others.
Obedience is hard at any age. Teach children that God the Holy Spirit dwells in them to help them do what’s right. Hebrews 13:5 promises, “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper…’” Encourage them to ask God for help when they’re tempted to sin and to rely on His power to make right choices.
Of course, even as Spirit-indwelt believers, we still sin sometimes. Take time to explain 1 John 1:9 to your class: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Let students know God is always ready and waiting to forgive His children when we turn back to Him from our sin.
Encourage them to ask God for help when they’re tempted to sin and to rely on His power to make right choices.
The Great Commission is not just for adults! Children can be powerful witnesses for God as they share their faith with their friends and family. Recently, a new family visited my friend Aimee’s church. When asked what brought them to church, the mom shared that her young daughter, who had been saved in a CEF® Good News Club®, had been sharing the Gospel with her parents. They finally became curious enough about their daughter’s new faith to visit the sponsoring church and learn more!
Equip students in your class with tools and ideas for sharing the Gospel. Help them practice sharing their own salvation testimony or teach them how to use a simple evangelism tool, such as the Wordless Book or Gospel Flipper-Flapper available from CEF Press.
Your secret weapon in discipling saved kids.
The most powerful tool you have to disciple your students is YOU! Children will desire to grow in their faith as you share openly about your own life and walk with Jesus. Share something you read in your devotional time this morning. Talk about a recent answer to prayer. Or tell the story of a time that you were tempted to sin and how God helped you do the right thing. The Apostle Paul challenged believers, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The children in your class are watching you to see what a Christ-follower looks like. Let your life be the godly example they need.
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