EVANGELISM IN THE CLASSROOM
I. QUALIFICATIONS AND TECHNIQUES OF THE EVANGELISTIC TEACHER
With all the emphasis on adequate facilities and tools of teaching, we may have overlooked one of the
most beneficial tools of all – the teacher that is in tune with the Holy Spirit.
A. IMMACULATE PERCEPTION
I have known a few people who made pretension to the gift, but they were singularly obnoxious. You know the type. If you mention you heard on the news about so and so, this individual knows all about it – knew it three weeks ago, in fact.
We need not worry about perversion of true immaculate perception. In its most beneficial aspect, it is a providential gift and it seems to me that we teachers
are the most logical and receptive persons for it. After all, our direct pipeline to omniscience almost demands that we possess “immaculate perception” of some kind.
B. FINDERS – WEEPERS & LOOSERS – KEEPERS
Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life shall find it.”
The person who is willing to abandon himself to a burden for the souls of children will indeed find results in the altar. Weepers, in prayer, will be reapers in
the altar. Losers of their life will keep, in the end results, life eternal; not only for themselves but for the children they evangelize. When you win a child you save a soul and a life.
c. FEED THE LAMBS – NOT THE GIRAFFES
Cumbersome jargon and the use of multisyllable words are often only a mask for the shallow and superficial thought. To feed every child in your class, STUDY DEEPLY and TEACH SIMPLY.
Our emphasis must be on intent rather than content.
We spend so much time on crafts, room decor, visual aids, and other tools, that the emphasis may be inadvertently placed on the successful use of these items rather than their intended results.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me go further. Sermons for children must have Biblical content; however the
tool of imagination must be coupled with the Biblical truths to produce desired results. The “profound” discourse, however convincingly delivered, will not produce the desired results with our “intent” interwoven into
its fiber. Call it what you will. The worst they can
say about you is “tear jerker” or “scare tactics”. The proof of your delivery will be seen in the Revival it brings–or the failure thereof.
There are times when the preaching (evangelistic teaching) must emphasize Apostolic Doctrine. Fine, but even then let the child evangelist use imagination in presenting the material. I believe in the conviction of preaching to children God wants something to happen in
the hearts of children; while the teacher is delivering
the Word of God.
The child’s mind is not a debating chamber. Options should not be part of the presentation, except in the
case of positive versus negative. One given the choice between two roads cannot make a wise decision–if he
makes one at all. Relative to doctrine there are no choices. State the doctrine clearly and simply–time
after time–and you will indelibly imprint it on the students’ minds forever.
In a class of young people, especially Junior High,
a clear sound must be given. The only options Jesus
gave was between the “straight way-narrow gate” and the “broad way-wide gate”. Salvation has never been
obtained using the multiple choice technique.
The prophet did not approach David with a lecture, complete with charts, on Levitical sacrifices. He
simply told the King a story about a stolen ewe lamb and
he reached the King’s heart.
Nicodemus wanted to know about eternal life but
Jesus talked to him about “birth”. The woman at the
well wanted to discuss religious differences, but Jesus kept talking to her about her thirst and God’s living
II. PRAYING WITH CHILDREN
A. PRAY WITH NOT FOR CHILDREN
Youth, as a whole, finds prayer uncomfortable. They generally do not do it and have serious questions about
its worth. They claim they don’t know how to do it and many will feel embarrassed about attempting it.
As you begin to pray with children you will notice three stages:
Stage One – SNICKERING
For some strange reason prayer time becomes the
comedy hour for some children. In spite of teacher
frowns, glares, threats, and thrashings–some children cannot keep from laughing, especially when the local Pharisee is praying for every missionary from the North Pole to the Equator . . . and purposely refuses to quit. That is until she has prayed for those who despitefully
Stage Two – THE CYNICAL CYCLE
This is a tough one to pierce through. With an air
of psuedo-sophistication, certain children (especially Juniors) will say by their actions “what’s the difference”. Junior High years abound with these maverick thoughts.
The whole scene of kneeling down, bowing heads, closing eyes, and praying for a “Holy Ghost”, they neither feel
a need of or want, is ridiculous to them.
Stage Three – GETTING PAST THE “PREACHER PRAY-ER”
This one is difficult to handle because it usually comes from well meaning lips, out of sincerity and a
desire to prompt obedience. We are tempted to preach to children, rebuke an unruly student or very subtly reinforce our own piety. Teachers can easily fall into this manipulative technique, since it is impossible to be interrupted in prayer. The temptation of taking this
same liberty in the pulpit, before a captive audience,
After passing through these three stages, however,
we begin to realize the importance of proper technique
in praying with children. The perfunctory uttering of meaningless, repetitious cliches that become boring even to God is of no value. The Lord Jesus thundered warning after warning against the empty verbosity which characterized the Pharisees.
B. KEEP IT SIMPLE
You don’t have to pray around the world three times or highlight every acquaintance between the poles and
all the ships at sea. God is watching the heart – and that’s what He responds to – not totaling up the
Is your altar time losing its punch? Here is a way to find out. When the service is over check the
results. If it’s good, GREAT! If it’s zilch, sit down with your Pastor and ask why. You have a lot more to be concerned about than numbers.
c. THE KEY
The key to praying children through to the Holy
Ghost is to be able, by the help of the Holy Ghost in
your own life, to determine whether the child is weeping because they are afraid, or if they are genuinely moved
on by God. If the child is truly moved by the Spirit
of God, it is only a matter of moments before they will receive the Holy Ghost because children are very credulous. They will do exactly what you tell them to do. They
don’t ask questions. They don’t doubt. They can be
lead easily into a situation where they can yield to
God. Of course, the key to getting anyone through to
the Holy Ghost is to transmit faith to them and get
them to yield. A child will do that very easily. But
you have to determine whether they have been “scared”” in
a sermon or if they are under the conviction of the
Holy Ghost. If they are under real conviction, they are seconds away from the Holy Ghost. If the person praying with them knows what they are doing they can get them through very easily.
D. PLAY NOW – PRAY LATER
To effectively relate to children in the altar, one must relate to them outside the service or classroom.
When you work with them at the altar you will not appear
to be the supernatural, high and lofty, unapproachable saint if you have a good relationship outside the altar or classroom. You must gain confidence in daily living before you enter into the realm of supernatural with
them so they will have confidence in you and trust your leading. Play now – Pray later.
III. PREPARING THE HEART TO RECEIVE
Jesus the greatest teacher of all time simply told stories. He talked to them about things they knew
about. He talked to Amos about picking fruit because
Amos was a fruit picker. He talked to the Disciples
about fishing and the woman at the well about water. He will come to where you are. The art of teaching is leading people from the known to the unknown. God
starts with us where we are and then leads us to things
we don’t know about based to what we do know about. He used the parable of the fig tree because people knew
about the fig tree. He elaborated and extended that knowledge to the unknown. The mustard seed, the wind,
etc. These are things the people knew about. He took them from the known to the unknown to open their mind’s understanding to spiritual things that they could not
have attained unto unless they had the foundation or the platform of the mustard seed, the wind, or the fig tree. That’s what He did. He was the Master Teacher. All
good teachers do this, taking you from the known to the unknown.
B. THE VALUE OF THE WORD OF GOD
The scripture proclaims that it is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Despite all the visual aids and
advanced programming we have in teachers training there
is one outstanding factor that is indelibly engraved in
my life and that is this:
The Jews in ghettos and caves had nothing but the
Word of God and they taught it in the most undesirable settings. They have by doing so, preserved a civilization, a nation, an ethnic group, and a religion for thousands
of years. This preservation was accomplished by one
active ingredient – the POWER of the Word of God, not experiential association, but by the Word of God, alone. That’s all they had. They have taught that and only
that in the most undesirable settings. They have preserved a nation, a religion, and a culture. Against unsurmountable odds they have done it. That is one of the most outstanding things in all the world to me.
There is an inaccurate concept among many home missionaries. Some of them think they cannot do this
or that because they don’t have rooms, do not have carpet or decor, but remember the Jews made it without all that. They didn’t even have an experience with God. They survived solely on the Word of God. Don’t fall into
the trap of depending entirely on a lot of programs
and highly intellectual presentations, gimmicks, and gadgets, much of which is over the children’s heads.
Just the simple teaching of the Word of God and a burden for their souls is a powerful tool in evangelizing children.
The key to reaching a child is to remember that you can fool an adult, but not a child. Psychologists say that if a man, though held in disdain by adults, counted as offscouring and refuse in that locale, is loved by children you can mark it down there is something good in that man’s heart. Children know; adults do not always know. They are drawn to goodness and purity. A child knows if a teacher loves them. They also know whether he has a burden or not. Children know if the parents are living for God or not, too.
A teacher who has a burden to transmit the Word of God to children’s hearts is absolutely invaluable in a Sunday School arrangement. They are the ones who “get
it done.” Not the talented ones, not the ones that are clever with their hands; but the one who has a burden to transmit truth to a child’s heart. They are the ones that mold people’s lives.
C. THE TRANSITION INGREDIENT
How does a teacher move out of a lesson into the altar service? The only way it can be done is if your lesson has had spiritual content and that spiritual content moves the hearts of the children. The altar service will flow automatically from the conviction of the Word of God. When the children begin to pray (or seek) You can watch for the sincere ones. If you are perceptive you will be able to tell which children are genuinely moved on by the Holy Spirit. Once one or two are moved upon others will follow suit. Children are very peer conscious. They will do what their peers do. They will not ask questions; they simply do it. They believe.
One difficulty should be considered. If you have a child that has come from a bad home environment where there is gross immorality, a lot of drunkenness, the child
will have picked up a spirit and a complex personality with fears that he cannot escape in a Sunday School room setting. These children are difficult to reach because
of the walls and barriers around them. But the average child who comes from the typical home is very easy to reach, especially the children of our own people.
D. INSTRUCTIONS TO THE YOUNG SEEKER
If the Sunday School lesson has not transmitted to them the understanding of the need for repentance, or a basic definition of repentance, repentance should be explained briefly. (Assuming we are praying with children who have attended for some time – at least 2 or 3 weeks.) Most children will understand these expressions because they have wept and repented to parents and had to ask forgiveness of brothers and sisters. If a child has a basic concept that they must do this with God then it is only a matter of teaching a child to yield to God or give themselves to God.
Have the children close their eyes and think–use the word “think”–about God. If you use the words “fasten your attention” they may not understand that. To say “think” means to picture Him in their minds. Let them raise their hands as a kind of surrender, a giving up of ones self. Tell them to worship the Lord. Explain that when they do receive the Holy Ghost they will not speak in English. They will speak in a language unknown to them.
If you work with that, the moment you hear them
begin to lose control of what they are saying, encourage them to let their tongue go and yield to what they feel. They will automatically begin speaking with tongues.
E. DEALING WITH INSINCERITY
The best way to stop a child from anything is lack
of attention. If you discontinue your praying with a
child that is insincere and say “I am going to help
someone else”, they will voluntarily stop praying. But
if they are sincere they will continue to reach for God whether you are there or not because what they feel
inside is automatically toward God and they will
continue to seek for Him.
F. GROWTH PRINCIPLES
It is easy to disciple children in a Sunday School setting. There is a way to live to maintain the touch
of God. The class is the ideal place to do it. If you use Centers of Interest, a special group or center may
be used to teach growth principles. However, you will not find as much difficulty in getting children to live for God as you do adults because children do not have
the pressures of the secular world. They may have pressure or problems with brothers and sisters, but they don’t have to worry about losing a job.
G. CHILDREN PRAYING WITH OTHER CHILDREN
Observe to determine which children have a special burden for other children. Announce for people, including other children, who are interested in helping other children become saved and come to the class. Teach simple things of believing; that it is not a time to laugh or look around but a time to pray and be sincere before God. The important thing is to teach them to help the person they are praying with to yield to God. It is easy to get children through to the Holy Ghost because they believe. They are credulous; they do not doubt or question. They do not rely on logic, reasoning or comparison.
Spurgeon believed that every person who ever eventually got saved had an experience with God as a child. Somewhere he has heard or felt the voice of God. They don’t doubt when they “feel” God as an adult will.
Jesus said, “Unless you become as a little child”– that doesn’t mean to toddle or fall over yourself on the way to the altar but to come emotionally as children come. Not foolish or playful; but gentle, obedient, truthful, pure, and trusting.
Unless our children are evangelized, everything else we do for Him will become an exercise in futility. Their spiritual lives will reflect our examples in prayer and consecration. It is true that “like begets like”; and if we are evangelistic in our soul winning, they will be soul winners.
Jesus proved his love for little children when He reproved His disciples when they wanted to send a group of children away. Jesus used the opportunity to teach
on who would enter the Kingdom of God. God has used children to accomplish His own high purposes because of their simple trust: David the Shepherd boy, Josiah the boy King, Samuel the boy who heard the voice of God, and the lad who trusted Jesus with his loaves and fishes.
Children are pearls of great price, invaluable to the work of God. Let us not overlook this great Army. When a child receives the Holy Ghost an entire life has been preserved from drugs, alcohol, immorality, and the vices of this world. The only escape for our teenagers is the Holy Spirit, alive and real in their lives, implanted there by a Sunday School teacher who had a burden for them as a child.