Counseling Children Responding to an Invitation

In ministry to children it is important that we are confident in how to respond to children in various counseling situations. In children’s ministry programs such as Sunday School, Children’s Church, Good News Clubs, and other such programs where an invitation is given; it is imperative that there is a strategy to address the various scenarios that occur when a child responds. Let us consider a few possible scenarios and how one should effectively and adequately respond.

  • The child is confused because a different term was used.

In some cases a child may respond to an invitation without understanding what they were challenged with. On numerous occasions I have encounter a situation where a child responded to an invitation without understanding what they were responding to. In such a case it is important to begin with asking the child various open-ended questions. You may ask, “why did you come to talk to me today?” You may also ask, “what is on your mind and how can I help you?” Such questions give you the opportunity to ascertain why a child responded to the invitation and if they understood the purpose of the invitation. The child may also be confused about various terms such as ‘salvation’, ‘saved’, ‘forgiveness’, among others. It is important that these terms are clearly defined for the child along with scripture references given.           

  • The child has sinned and thinks he has to receive Jesus again.

There may be times when a child will respond to an invitation repeatedly. This has occurred in nearly every Good News Club and Vacation Bible School I have been a part of. Children may have a hard time understanding the concept of eternal security especially when they have sinned. In this situation it is important that you direct the child to scriptures such as 1 John 1:9 and explain to them that often times we will still sin as Christians and the good news is that God will forgive us as we confess our sins to Him. 1 John 5:13 is another key passage that gives assurance for salvation. You may want to ask the child to share with you about the time they received Christ as Savior. Ask the child key questions such as: “Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again?” Explain to the child that once they believe on Jesus they are adopted into God’s family. It is also important to explain to the child that our salvation is not based on how we feel but based on whether or not we truly believe.

  • The child wants to pray because something bad has happened.

Asking open/ended questions every time you counsel a child will help you understand why they responded to the invitation. It may be that the child did not come for salvation, rather they are worried and concerned over something that has occurred in their life. It is very important in such a case not to ask too many questions or try to get the child to say or admit something that they do not want to say voluntarily. In this case, it is important to listen to the child carefully and respond accordingly. Maybe they had a relative or pet that died. Or perhaps they were bullied, or their parents are fighting. If a child reveals to you a serious issue such as abuse, it is important that you do not question the child, rather, report the situation to your superior so they can take any necessary steps. Most importantly, you should pray with the child for whatever the situation is and give them a resource such as the Do you ever wonder why booklet from Child Evangelism Fellowship.

  • The child is convicted of some particular area of sin.

In some cases, a child may respond to an invitation due to conviction over a particular sin in their life. In this situation it is important to ask the child if they have ever believed on Jesus for salvation. If not, review the Gospel with them and lead them to a definite decision to accept Christ. If they indicate they are already saved, then take them to 1 John 1:9 and talk about the need to pray and confess their sin. It is also good to share with them the importance of daily Bible reading and prayer. You may even provide resources such as the Wonder Book devotional from Child Evangelism Fellowship that will help them in establishing a daily time of prayer and Bible study.

  • The child comes to the counseling room to encourage a friend.

It is a beautiful thing to see children concerned for their friends. A child may come with their friend during the invitation time so their friend would not have to go alone. In this situation it is good to thank the child for coming with their friend and praise them for their concern. As you begin to counsel the child’s friend it is good to encourage them not to interject or interrupt but to pray as you help their friend.

  • In response to the lesson, the child wants to commit his life to God.

This is the most joyful scenario when you have the opportunity to lead a child to Christ. If the child is responding to an invitation given after a lesson was taught by a trained teacher who weaved the message of the Gospel into the lesson, there is no need to go over all the details of the Gospel again. Instead, ask the child specific questions that gives them the opportunity to explain the Gospel to you. As you are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and you are confident the child has a clear understanding of the Gospel, give them the opportunity to pray on their own to accept Christ as Savior. Once they have prayed to receive Christ, it is important to share with them the need to grow in their faith. You may use the acrostic for GROW: Go to church, Read your Bible and Pray, Obey God’s Word, and Witness. It would also be good to ask the child to think of one person who would be happy about their decision and tell them about it. Also, have the child think of one person who also needs to be saved and encourage them to tell that person about what God has done for them. It is also important to provide some follow-up literature for them to begin their journey of growth. It would also be good to personally follow-up with the child’s family and get them connected to a local church.

  • The child loves you and no one else will pray with him.

If a child just simply wants someone to pray with them, they may respond to the invitation because they take comfort in you praying with them. Do not neglect such a child or think their response to the invitation is not valid. Listen to their prayer requests and pray with them.

It is a great joy to counsel with children who are responding to an invitation. The key is to not jump to conclusions, ask open/ended questions, and respond accordingly. It is key that you are prayed up and prepared and make sure you are where you need to be spiritually in order to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in counseling a child.

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