God expects us to prepare the next generation to follow the Lord. The task is enormous, but essential because it is a God directive.
Parents play a major role in preparing their children to share the gospel. In particular, there are three things parents must stress: the message, the method, and the motive. We do this by first living them out and then explaining them to our children in a way they can understand.
Message—Teach them the clarity of the gospel message. The gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 in ten words: Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Every child needs to understand those ten words and commit to keep the message simple and clear. The message for every generation remains the same.
Teach them the meaning of saving faith. The book specifically written to tell us how to receive eternal life is the Gospel of John (see John 20:31). Repeatedly we are told to “believe.”
Children must understand the meaning of believe—to come to God as a sinner, recognize Christ died for us and arose, and trust in Christ alone as their only way to heaven. Salvation is completely free with no strings attached.
Unless people understand the simplicity of saving faith, they may come toward God but may not come to God. The next generation needs to be told how to make the meaning of saving faith clear.
Method—Although the message never changes, the methods do. Parents need to teach their children to identify the methods God is using to reach each generation. They then must challenge their children to use every method possible to get the clear message of the gospel to people.
Teach them to be flexible in their methods. A generation that wants to reach unbelievers must keep the message as simple and clear as God does but use every appropriate method to get the message out. There will be some methods the present generation knows about and other methods that the present generation has no knowledge of because the future is just that—the future—no one knows what all might unfold.
Teach them what it means to be a disciple and the subsequent reward of discipleship. A disciple is “a learner”—someone who, having trusted Christ, follows after Him.
All Christians should be disciples, although all Christians are not disciples. Discipleship is defined in Luke 14:26–27, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
The word “hate” is not to be understood literally, but is a figure of speech for loving Christ above any and all earthy attachments.
Motive—When a person comes to Christ, God now wants them to be a disciple—a learner—someone who follows Him. The first thing Christ taught His disciples was evangelism: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).
Children need to be motivated to make first what was first with Him—reaching non-Christians. They should also be taught the rewards God promises to those Christians who accept His invitation to be disciples (see Matt. 10:40–42). People who are wholeheartedly at His disposal as disciples are ones He can use as He wishes in reaching the people of their generation.
Remember, though, to teach effectively one has to understand what He is asking of others. What better legacy can parents leave with their children than a legacy that models the teaching and training they have given them in evangelism?
(Note: Post adapted from an article in The Evangelism Study Bible.)