Welcome to the brand-new Orange Kids Podcast, where we talk kids’ ministry and discuss practical solutions to our weekly challenges. Hosts Gina, Mike and Kellen share their personal experiences with handling the salvation conversation and tools for how to invite parents into the process. Also: free stuff!
LET’S GET INTO THE EPISODE
We’re back! You’re back! Or maybe you’ve just discovered us. Welcome to the Orange Kids Podcast, where we talk kids’ ministry and discuss practical solutions to our weekly challenges. This week, Gina discovers she’s got an accent, we wonder what strange noises might be emanating from the Orange offices, and you get free stuff! Plus, we dig into the heart of what your ministry is all about—connecting kids to Jesus.
Mike launches all the questions on the table in one fell swoop:
How do you talk to kids about salvation?
When is the right time?
Do you include parents?
Baptism by dunking, pouring, sprinkling or spit mixed with mud?
(Okay, not really. We tip no sacred cows. This time.)
Kellen pulls a trump card: “When’s the right time? When a kid is ready. When they’re ready to ask about who Jesus is and why I need to have Jesus in my life. If Jesus is woven into everything you’re doing, there should be natural moments.”
Kellen tags Mike to share his experience. For this story, imagine yourself back in the dark ages—the days of rotary phones. (Please provide your own mental sound effects.) Mike does youth ministry, and summer camp is the apex of the year. Eyes are closed. Hands are raised. Kids commit to following Jesus. Mass baptism party in the pool! It’s awesome. And Mike gets to call home on the rotary phone and tell the parent their kid has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The call goes two ways:
Unchurched parent: “They did what? Who…? Um… okay…”
Church parent: “That’s… great! I’m so excited. It’s just… I wish I could have been there.”
Mike, brow furrowed, considers: “There’s got to be a better way we can bring parents along this road.”
End story. (Provide mental transition sound effects.)
Kellen shares how Mike’s story changed his thinking about how the church plant he helped to start in 2018 would handle talking about salvation. It’s too easy to get a crowd of kids excited about following Jesus on stage, get lots of hands up, and then tell the parents as an afterthought.
In Gina’s first ministry role (we don’t know whether this was in the days of rotary phones), they shared the Gospel and invited kids to respond every week, telling the parents about decisions after the service. One Sunday, a dad got visibly angry. He said, “I’m not mad at you, but I missed the opportunity to be a part of this moment. I have seven years invested. You have had less than a year, but you got that moment and I didn’t.”
She asks: as a ministry leader, what is our role? Absolutely we present the Gospel on a regular basis. But the directive, in this phase, is not to raise your hand or come forward. It’s to keep asking questions.
Gina started a class called Leading Your Kids to Christ, using the Start Here curriculum content that Orange offers (shameless plug: FOR FREE). If an elementary kid is asking questions about salvation, parents can come with their kids. The Gospel is presented to both, along with resources for parents to continue the conversation and lead a child through the salvation decision as soon as they are ready.
Gina’s church trained volunteers not to talk a child through the actual salvation moment without a parent present because, “to have that moment with a child is to take it from their parent.”
1. What should be the role of the leaders in your environment?
Mike: A Large Group communicator presents the Gospel. Small Group leaders can then help kids process what it actually means. Then the Small Group leader can immediately connect with the parent.
Kellen: “Discipleship does not happen from the stage.”
Gina: “When we choose to take the salvation moment, we feel like we are ‘sealing the deal,’ but we aren’t respecting the process.” A child raising a hand to follow Jesus is not a box to check. It’s the start of a life-long discipleship journey. If that kid’s journey is not connected to a small group leader and/or a parent at home, you’re stunting the growth of that journey. The salvation conversation should happen in the context of a loving relationship. Don’t remove the opportunity for a kid to have that dialogue.
Mike’s Story, Part 2
It’s the sequel! Now Mike’s got his own kids. He and his son attend a salvation class together. And his son is cool with it… but not quite ready to make the decision for himself. Mike doesn’t push the choice on him. But then his son is invited by a friend to a Wednesday evening class at a different church. When his son comes home, Mike discovers the pastor preached a full-on salvation message to newbies and asked for decisions to follow Christ—without even sending home any parent material. Though his son still chose to wait, Mike is frustrated the pastor chose to take that moment out of the context of family.
Kellen: “We as communicators and pastors need to think about the kids first and foremost. And if you think about the kids, you have to think about the parents. Going in as a young pastor, you want to check the boxes, get the largest numbers, grow God’s kingdom. It’s easy to forget that parents are our demographic. That kid goes home to a parent.”
Gina: “We have a responsibility as ministry leaders to graft the hearts of parents and children together now, because what lies ahead are circumstances that will pull them apart.”
Create shared experiences through the salvation process. That ministry leader may not be there when the child is weathering middle school, but the parent will be. Keep them connected.
- Present the Gospel as much and as often as you want!
- Set up Large Group leaders to present the Gospel clearly.
- Cue Small Group leaders to help kids wrestle with what this means for them and to connect with parents immediately following small group.
- Create a class/environment for parents and kids together to talk about salvation, whether it’s weekly/monthly/quarterly.
- Party time! Celebrate salvation decisions.
However you handle salvation, recall that parents are going to be a part of their kids’ lives forever. Make room to bring them into the biggest decision their kid will ever make.
If you’re wondering where to start… START HERE! Literally. Check out this amazing free resource from Orange to start the conversation in your church. Click here to check out Start Here!