Do you know how eagles teach their young to fly? It’s a complicated process because flying isn’t a straightforward pastime! Eagles first demonstrate how to fly by hovering above their nest. Next they push their young out of the nest to experience free fall, only to rescue them before deadly impact with the ground. Then the parent makes the nest less comfortable by removing the feathers that line it and eventually pulls the nest apart, to force their young out. The adult eagle goes to a lot of trouble to ensure that their young have learnt the hard but essential skills of flight.
Paul told the Church in Colossae what they should do to obey Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples;
Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5
It takes great wisdom and intentional decision making to bring a friend to become a follower of Jesus Christ. For your child to learn these essential skills you, the parent, will most likely have to go to a lot of trouble. Wouldn’t you agree that learning to reach the lost for Christ is even more crucial for our children than learning to fly is for the eaglets?
Here are 10 tips for how parents can walk alongside our children in their evangelism:
• Have a missional mindset as a parent. Read the Gospels, praying that your parenting would be in step with Christ’s heart for the lost. If your heart doesn’t beat for the lost, how will they learn?
• Give your child a missional mindset. Explain how you pray for friends who are not Christians, how you plan to show them love and how you look for opportunities to talk about Jesus Christ. Allow them to see how you are prayerful and deliberate. Speak about church holiday club or other family evangelistic events as their friends’ chance to hear the Good News rather than their own chance for a fun time. Every big adventure is a chance to share Jesus Christ with friends.
• Let them discover how Christ has been at work in their lives. Can they see their own story? Can they see that they have grown in knowledge and love of Christ? Can they see their growth in godliness? Tell them how they have grown in their love for Christ and their desire to live for him. What do they love most about Jesus? How does Jesus help them each day? What would they love their friends to know about Jesus? This is their testimony. This helps them see why their friends need Christ.
• Partner with your child. As they pray for their friends; you pray for those parents. As they invite their friends; you invite their parents to lunch and then to church. We have to be as brave in our evangelism as we pray they are in theirs.
• Pray together at every step of the way. Pray for wisdom as they decide who to invite. Pray before your children invite them that they would come. Pray as you journey to Holiday Club for the Spirit to work in hearts. Pray as you journey home for the conversations that are happening with parents to be about Jesus Christ. Our constant prayerfulness (in brief, clumsy, chaotic moments) teaches our children that we are dependent on Christ.
• Encourage your child to enjoy church events with others in mind. When your children bring a friend to a holiday club or a church event, talk them through how they can help their friends to enjoy the event. Help them to see the event through their friend’s eyes. What does your child think their friend will find difficult? Pray about it.
• Help your child to play the team game. Whether they have friends there or not, others do. So pray for those who are not yet Christians. Care for them, as if they were their own friends. Help them to concentrate and learn.
• Talk to them afterwards and listen. Ask your children about the joys, the encouragements and the disappointments. Pick a quiet moment, perhaps at bedtime. What do they think their friend enjoyed most? What do they think their friend learnt about Jesus? Did their friend talk to them about Jesus Christ? Thank God for every tiny encouragement.
• Point your child to Christ as the King of their friends. He is the one who loves their friends even more than they do. He is the one who changes hearts. His is the burden. We can only pray and talk. That’s it. Let them place their friends in the Lord’s care.
• Relax and act normal! Because every day is a chance for our friends to hear about Jesus Christ.
Let’s live as missionaries! Ten top tips is probably too many. Pick one and watch your children fly!