Sunday, October 12, 2008

Child conversion urged


Alvin Reid, Professor of Evangelism at Southeastern Theological Seminary and author of Introduction to Evangelism, has a helpful chapter on evangelizing children, “MTV and the Internet, or Jesus Christ and Fishing Nets: Evangelizing the Next Generation”
(pages 243-263).

Being favourable to child evangelism and cautious about how it is done, he concludes:

“Keep in mind that children only need to receive Christ. They don’t have to explain the gospel in detail. Children may not be able to explain why they have this need, but they must sense a need for Jesus. They must understand that God’s provision for meeting the need they feel is Jesus. They don’t have all the theological answer, but they must understand that it is through Jesus that God meets the need they are experiencing. They also must know how to appropriate or to claim God’s provision—through faith by trusting him as they commit their lives to Christ” (Alvin Reid, Introduction to Evangelism, Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998, pp. 253-254).

The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London is convinced that God seeks the conversion of children and has structure their Sunday School with an evangelistic focus (see Jill Masters, Building an Outreach Sunday School (London: The Wakeman Trust, 2005) and “Lessons for Life” Curriculum).

In The Necessity of Sunday Schools, Peter Masters, Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, writes:

“It is a matter of great concern that many Sunday School materials are not particularly evangelistic. In many lesson-aid publications the Gospel comes up only occasionally, and then without any depth of persuasive reasoning. Many such aids do no more than outline Bible ‘stories’ and often in a light and trivial manner.

The children are not taught the nature and consequences of sin, or the sinfulness and hurtfulness of it. There is scant attention to the graciousness of Christ, and the necessity of salvation.

We need to teach lessons which reflect thorough preparation by teachers who are deeply concerned for the conversion of their children. Our labours must be undergirded by the conviction that it is God Himself Who calls us to emphasise the Gospel to the young”
(Peter Masters & Malcolm H. Watts, The Necessity of Sunday Schools in this Post-Christian Era (London: The Wakeman Trust, 1992), p. 72).
Chapters 4 (“The Biblical Warrant for the Evangelisation of all Children”) and 6 (“A History of Evangelism of Children”), written by Malcolm H. Watts, stress the importance of intentionally seeking the conversion of children.

This labour to evangelize children is in keeping with the efforts of C. H. Spurgeon when he was pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Alvin Reid is of this same tradition. But are we?

Do we believe that God calls children to repentance or do we distrust the conversion of children? If the latter then we will only teach them with hopes that one day they will believe in Christ. Rather, with all earnestness and diligent we ought to instruct children to trust in Christ while they are children. Some will come later in life; some will never come to Christ; some will come to Christ as children and should be immersed in the name of the triune God for a life of discipleship. We should instruct children to seek the Lord while they are young. They, just as much as adults, ought to be the focus of our evangelistic efforts.-- Contributed by Ian D. Elsasser


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