What If The ABCs of Salvation Aren’t Enough?

Getting children ready for the ABCs

by Mark Entzminger/ June 13, 2016

I can hear it now… “What?! What do you mean the ABCs of salvation are not enough???”

Now don’t start writing something in the comments section or blogging that I’m adding to the Scriptures. I firmly believe the Scriptures that every one of us is a sinner (Romans 3:23) and all are deserving of death (Romans 6:23). I also believe Jesus paid the price for our sins, and that when we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us (John 3:16).

This blog is not challenging how we are saved. Rather its design is to draw attention to the reality we face in this post-modern world that there are many kids who have significant roadblocks to even getting to the point of “Admitting I’m a sinner, Believing Jesus died for your sins, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and Confessing your faith in Jesus Christ.”

  1. God Awareness: In college it was described as a continuum that began around –20, ran through 0 and up to positive 10.* Every individual is somewhere on this scale. “0” is the point where they know there is a God, are deeply indebted to him, and are in need of a Savior. Everything prior to that is a decreasing awareness of this reality, everything after is how we grow in our relationship with Him. Every child in your children’s ministry is somewhere on that scale. Too far to the left and the ABCs won’t make sense yet. Begin to think of each lesson you teach, every interaction with a leader, and every time they attend an activity. Each of this is an opportunity to move closer to the “0” on the scale.
  2. Trophy Child Syndrome: One of the dangers of the “every child is a winner” mentality is that it can creep over into kids not really understanding the gravity of their sin. Imagine a child who’s been told all their life that they are perfect, every need is always met, and they are the center of the universe. What happens when they come face to face with the message “You have a sin nature”? Now, I’m not suggesting you start combating this syndrome by calling kids derogatory names, but I do think we need to realize that this mindset can create hurdles for kids accepting Christ.
  3. Who’s Your Daddy?: In a world where no two people’s picture of a “father” is the same, and the culture and media are destroying what a good father would look like, asking kids to put their trust in a Good Father they cannot see might be a significant challenge. Our salvation is not something we come to logically — we don’t think our way to being saved, we are saved through faith. However, the reality of absentee fathers, disengaged fathers, abuse, etc., must be factored in as we talk to kids about the ABCs of salvation.

There are more roadblocks to getting a child to the point of the ABCs of salvation than the three listed, but I think you get the picture.

So what do we do? Here are a couple additional thoughts to consider:

  1. Relationships Matter: Encourage your small-group leaders to know the kids and help them gauge interest and desire for spiritual matters over time. Help those leaders be comfortable asking a child if they have ever made a commitment to Christ, and if they would like to now.
  2. Altar Calls Matter: Sometimes we are not able to answer all of the questions a child has in a large or small group setting. After sharing the plan of salvation to the group, I’ve begun asking kids to respond if they want to receive Christ as their Savior or if they would like to know more about what it means. This allows a follow-up leader to have a personal conversation to ask where they are at and have a prayer with them regardless of if they are ready to Admit, Believe, and Confess.
  3. Parents Matter: Never underestimate the role of the family in leading a child to Christ. Recently I witnessed a mom ask a leader about when their child responded for salvation the week prior. “Did they explain sin to him? Did they lead him in a sinner’s prayer? He said he was talked to in a different way than the other kids.” Friends, if we truly believe that parents should take the lead in their child’s spiritual journey, we must be more intentional about equipping and positioning parents in a role that puts them front and center for these conversations. Only when a parent is disengaged should the church step in to make sure no child is missed.

*There are several ways this can be described, this is how I recall it. I hope you can capture the concept.