A child has just accepted Jesus as their Savior—this is fantastic news! But what now? Do you just send them on their way with a thankful satisfaction knowing that they are “safe and saved”? No! This child has taken the first step in beginning a relationship with God, and this relationship should continue to grow with the child for the rest of his or her life. Advice from Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization which has focused on discipling children for over eighty years, gives us some practical tips.
Six things a child can do to grow spiritually are to pray, read the Bible, give as God leads, go to church, have friends who are also believers, and tell others about Jesus. Instead of just giving a child a list of ways they can get to know God better, use simple hand motions to help the child better remember these specific things.
Why Use Hand Motions?
It has been proven that, at best, we remember 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we hear and see, and 90% of what we hear, see, and do.
With that being the case, let’s look at six simple motions children can see and do to help them remember how to grow spiritually.
Fold hands together in front of you as if praying.
This first motion symbolizes and helps children remember to pray. Don’t assume children know how to pray. Explain what prayer is and how they can pray. Prayer can be explained to the child as simply talking to God, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. There are several things they can talk to God about. They can praise God by telling Him how good He is. They can thank God for who He is, the things that happen in their life, and for saving them through Jesus. They can confess their sins to God as taught in 1 John 1:9. Make sure they understand they are not being “re-saved.” They are simply telling God they’re sorry for their sins and asking Him to help them stop doing those sins so they can grow closer to Him. Let them know they can pray for other people and ask God for His help with anything they are going through. Teaching children different things they can pray will help them learn they can go to God about anything.
2. Read Your Bible
Open praying hands and face palms upward, keeping them together, to symbolize holding a book.
Let children know God can talk to them through His Word, the Bible. Encourage them to set aside time to read God’s Word every day. You may wish to provide them with a devotional book such as The Wonder Devotional book for older children or an Every Day with God devotional book for younger children, available through CEF Press®. You may also need to provide Bibles if they don’t already have one. Help them set a realistic goal on how much to read each day, such as reading the same number of verses as they are years old (i.e., an eight-year-old could read eight verses a day).The book of Mark is great place to suggest they start reading. Mention that as they read the Bible, they can also work on memorizing different verses throughout the Bible.
3. Give as God Leads
Move hands out and away from your body as if giving something to someone.
Another way children can grow closer to and obey God is by giving. While this does include tithing, tell them different ways they can give to God by serving Him. Some ways a child can serve are by helping their parents without being asked, helping a sibling with chores, helping friends or younger siblings with homework, etc. For older children, you might suggest they ask if they can volunteer at their church by working with younger children, helping with set-up or clean-up, or handing out bulletins. Whether it’s by giving money or by giving time, God loves it when we give to Him. He does not need our money or time, but it is wonderful to get to do good in His name, because we love Him.
4. Go to Church
Fold and clasp hands together with pointer fingers extended and touching to symbolize a church with a steeple.
The Bible says that believers should meet together to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25). Church is a wonderful place where this happens. Encourage the children to attend a church that teaches from the Bible. If a child cannot go to a church, ask the parent if you may invite the child to ride to church with you, or ask if they can go to a weekday Bible program for kids. You could also find out if their school has an after-school Good News Club® (a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship®) they can attend.
5. Make Friends with Other Believers
Open up hands from the church hand motion and weave fingers together while wiggling them to symbolize people.
If the children are able to attend a church, Bible program, or Good News Club, it will be easier for them to find friends who are also believers. If a child has friends who are also trying to live for God, it will help them to grow and live more for God. The group of children can encourage and be encouraged by each other as they get to know God better. You can explain the illustration in Ecclesiastes 4:12. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. One string by itself is weak, but twist three together and they are much more than three times stronger. So it is when you have three Christian friends who support each other.
6. Tell Others about Jesus
Open up and bring hands to mouth as if telling someone something.
Finally, encourage the children to tell others about Jesus and what He has done. The Bible tells believers to go and share the Gospel (Mark 16:15), and children who believe in Christ have this responsibility and honor as well. You may give the children a tract, such as the “God Loves You!” or the “How to Have a Very Special Friend!” tracts available through CEF Press®, they can use to share with someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. Encourage the child to tell their friends and family about Jesus and how they can believe in Him and have their sins forgiven.
These are a few of the things a saved child can do to grow spiritually. Instead of just leaving the saved child to try and figure out how to get to know God better on their own, teach them specific ways they can get to know God better. These hand motions are one simple and effective way to accomplish this. By accepting Christ as their Savior, a child is saved for eternity. However, it is by growing in their personal relationship with God that a child’s life will be obviously changed for the better. Spiritual growth is essential for every believer, regardless of how old they are.
 The 7 Laws of the Teacher. Atlanta: Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, Inc. p. 29. Used by permission.
Child Evangelism Fellowship is an international, nonprofit, Christian ministry that has been teaching the Bible to children since 1937. CEF has 400 offices in the USA and is organized in most nations of the world, with over 3,500 paid staff and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. In its last ministry year, CEF ministered to over 25 million children in its face-to-face teaching ministries.