Three things have shaped me and given me a passion to speak God’s truth into the lives of children.
I came to faith at age ten, after a leader on a Beach Mission enquired if I was a Christian. I’d grown up with parents who’d taken me to Sunday School each week, but this was the first leader who’d asked me where I stood. I do not remember her name, but I’m eternally grateful that she thought to enquire, and that she knew how to explain the gospel clearly to me. God used her to call me to himself.
The first people I told about my new faith were my parents. I still remember the tears in my father’s eyes after I told him. His tears made me realise what I’d just done was big. I was now a child of the King. My parents had spoken truth into my life from birth, and their passion for Jesus has had a profound impact on my life.
School was a struggle for me. Reading out loud was painful and my spelling embarrassing. My Sunday School experience was full of reading and writing activities. I remember quietly saying to myself, “Don’t pick me! Don’t pick me!” as my leader looked around for someone to read the Bible. This lack of literacy and the feelings of inadequacy have instilled a concern in me for children who struggle as I did - either because English is not their first language or because of literacy issues. This has shaped me both as a teacher and as a writer. And again, I’m grateful for this shaping.
The gospel is powerful to save - whether you are fifty-five or five. So the big question is - are we optimistic? Do we expect to see children come to faith? Because our expectations will shape the things we say and do.
Do we recognise that the relationship that impacts children the most is the one with their parents? Effective children’s ministry begins with a clear focus on equipping parents for the task of shepherding their own children.
And finally, teaching gospel truth to children begins with clarity - big ideas captured in child-friendly language - then meaningfully packaged, giving every child an opportunity to hear and understand.
My ministry in my own church, Kidswise Training and the production of material available on the Kidswise web site, all reflect these truths that have so profoundly shaped me.