The Gospel is #1. Tell it often. Tell it well.

Nothing is more important than sharing the Gospel. Nothing.

I remember like it was yesterday. I was in seminary (not ‘cemetery,’ as kids often call it) with a room full of potential pastors. I was the only kids pastor. The rest were in training for much “higher office,” aka Lead Pastors. The professor in the front of the room described a horrible situation in graphic detail that I’ll spare you. In short, a man had been in a terrible car accident and was dying on the side of the road. In this hypothetical situation, he said that we happened along the scene and had only moments to share Christ with him and usher the dying man into the presence of Jesus. One by one he invited these future preachers to the front of the room to share the Good News with this dying man and explain the fullness of the Gospel. One by one as they came up and pontificated about substitutionary atonement, propitiatory reconciliation, the intricacies of redemptive sacrifice or Old Testament covenants fulfilled through the justification and subsequent glorification of Christ, the professor would interrupt them and say, “Too late, the guys dead. Next.” Finally, it was my turn. I sheepishly asked, “Do you admit you’ve sinned? I mean, done bad things?” The professor nodded. I continued, “God loves you and forgives you. Do you believe Jesus, God’s son, died on the cross for you and would you like to spend eternity with Him forgiven for your sins?” The professor nodded again. I said, “Let me pray with you and just agree with me in your heart and mind as I pray with you.”

The professor yelled, “Hallelujah!” and then asked me, “Do you work with children?” I answered, “I’m a children’s pastor.” He literally clapped as he jumped out of his chair and looked delighted as he quoted Jesus saying, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) In fact, he explained, three times the Bible records Jesus saying, “the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16) Could it be, he asked, that the Gospel is so simple that even a child can understand it and that adults often complicate it?

As children’s ministry leaders we need to share the Gospel often and we must share it clearly. My first lead pastor was Pastor Erwin Lutzer at the historic Moody Church in Chicago. Yes, the same church founded by the great evangelistic Dwight L. Moody. What an honor it was to be the children’s pastor at the church he founded as a result of reaching poor inner-city children off the streets of Chicago. Pastor Lutzer’s advice to me when I started ministering at his church has always stuck with me.

“Karl,” he said, “you have to preach in such a way that even an adult can understand.” I loved how he swapped out the word “kid” and replaced it with “adult.” We assume that kids need things explained simply, but adults do too. Perhaps that is why Jesus taught adults with objects and stories!

As I did with the hypothetical dying man, when explaining the Gospel – the Good News – I like to keep it as simple as the A-B-C’s.

A – Admit that you are sinner. (Romans 3:23; 6:23)
B – Believe that Jesus came, died, and rose again to pay the cost for our sin. (Romans 5:8; John 5:24)
C – Choose to accept the payment and follow Jesus as one of His disciples. (John 1:12)

There are other options for the letter “C,” Call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13), Commit your life to God, or even Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and you will be saved. (Romans 10:9) But for the sake of simplicity, I still prefer the simple act of Choosing Jesus as Savior.

There are so many ways to clearly share the Gospel of Jesus. If you are looking for fresh ways to explain the Good News, visit for a wide variety of creative methods and tools that will help you explain the life-changing message of salvation in ways that even an adult can understand. There have been so many times I have shared the Gospel with children, using a creative tool, and have had adults come up to me and say, “Pastor Karl, I’ve been attending church for decades, and it wasn’t until today that I finally understood the simple Truth of how to become a follower of Christ.” It’s amazing how rare it is for adult leaders to share the Gospel simply and clearly in ways that an adult can understand. That’s why Jesus admonished that adults need to come to Him as children – in simple, dependent faith and trust.

But there is another issue besides clarity that must be addressed – and that is opportunity.

We must tell it well, but we must tell it often. There are churches all across our country – and likely around the world – that are busy doing a great many good things, that are failing to share the Good News and failing to give people opportunities to respond.

What good would it do to have a well-cared-for field ripe for harvest if the fruit was never harvested? Jesus warned, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) Contrary to how this verse is often used, Jesus was NOT talking about a LACK OF VOLUNTEERS. What an insult to Jesus. He was talking about a lack of people harvesting the field that is filled with people who are ripe and ready to follow Jesus if we would just ask them! He said the workers are few. What type of workers? Those who HARVEST. We are lacking those who harvest the ripe field.

What’s the point of all the good things we are busy doing if we are not leading kids to Jesus? I know all the excuses. The worst is “parents are the primary spiritual leaders of children.” Of course they are! But that is no excuse not to invite kids to follow Jesus. Not all parents know Jesus nor will all parents invite their kids. Plus, not all are trained or equipped to know how to lead their kids to Jesus. We must train parents, encourage parents, and equip parents – but still harvest kids.

As a children’s ministry leader you should regularly be sharing the Gospel and giving kids opportunities to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. You can decide how often, but it can’t be never. Define ‘often’ for yourself. Weekly may be too often, but an annual VBS is far too rare. Pray about it and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

The great evangelist D.L. Moody once planned a two-night evangelistic event. On the first night he passionately preached about the need for God and forgiveness through a relationship with Jesus. He ended the evening telling the huge crowd, “Come back tomorrow night to find out how you can be saved and have an eternal relationship with God!” Tomorrow night never happened because that night was the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Over 300 people perished in the flames and over 100,000 were left homeless. As Mr. Moody watched the city burn from a boat out on Lake Michigan he wept and made a private commitment that never again would he share about Jesus and not give an opportunity for people to respond in faith to the offer of salvation.

Remember my professor with his fictitious story of the dying man? He ended our class by going on to say that there is actually a story in the Bible of a man who was dying who came to faith in Jesus without all the complicated theology that we often obscure the Gospel with. He got saved by the same simple ABC’s we use in kids ministry. Who was this man? He was hanging on a cross right next to Jesus. (Luke 23) He Admitted he was a sinner and expressed his Belief in Jesus when he said to the other thief, “We are here because we deserve it, this man has done nothing.” He Chose Jesus when he Called out to Him, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” How did Jesus answer him? “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

There is no greater joy in life than to get to pray with a child who has understood the Gospel and to be able to tell them the Good News: that one day, they too, will be with Jesus in paradise.

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