This is part of my reading for my internship. I have to read some on the conversion of children. This is the first work on this subject that I had to read. This is not an exhaustive review but more of a summary with brief reaction.
The goal of this work seeks to prepare parents, grandparents, and Sunday school teachers to be able to share the gospel “with clear age-appropriate explanations of God’s timeless truth and limitless love.” (10) Its main focus is on informing teachers how to present the gospel message in a meaningful way to children. Staal encourages teachers to use words that kids would understand by avoiding Christian clichés (e.g. asking Jesus into your heart). Also, he wants teachers to understand that children do not have to have an exhaustive understanding of the gospel in order to be saved.
For Staal there are four important aspects of the gospel that children must understand. First, are some basic attributes of God. He is holy, loving, and just. Second would be an understanding of man. All men are sinners and cannot save ourselves. Third, is Christ and his incarnation, holiness, his substitutionary atonement, and resurrection. Finally, the child must understand that a decision has to be made in order to accept Christ and be forgiven of sin.
Overall, the work had many practical ways to communicate the gospel with children. Most helpful was the help in writing a “kid-friendly” testimony to share with the children. Preparing a testimony/lesson with kids in mind will hopefully help someone be mindful of the way kids may understand the words they use. No teacher will be perfect at this at first, but the exercise may help them prepare to help kids understand the gospel.
Despite the practicality of the work, the book needs some depth in the gospel message. While it is important to simplify the language used to communicate the gospel to children it is also helpful for the teacher to understand what really shows that someone has indeed become a Christian. This book, unlike the one by Art Murphy which will be reviewed in the next post, lacked this type of depth. The majority of the work was mainly devoted to how to communicate with children, not so much how to recognize genuine signs to distinguish genuine signs of conversion from general inquisitiveness. In other words, it seemed to be written so that adults could feel more comfortable about teaching children more so than anything else.