Tonight we started out by meeting at Shepherd of the Hills Church. I think until further notice, this will make a great starting/meeting point. From there we can decide where to go. Tonight a few of the core team were missing, but we had a nice turnout. A few new people, and some folks that are starting to become regulars and are quickly getting bold enough to get right in there and talk with people.
We started out by walking across the street to Starbucks in Porter Ranch and it was really empty. With the seven of us out tonight, it would have been too overwhelming to approach a table of two people.
So, we headed down to the Winnetka Theater, which is pretty close to the Northridge Mall. The crowd here was much better. There were plenty of people in line and plenty of people sitting around, basically hanging out. That makes it much easier to approach people. I knew I needed to leave a little early tonight as my daughter was at her last night of Vacation Bible School, so I jumped right in.
I found a group of boys, who quickly turned from three to about twelve as I approached. They bordered on a little too rowdy to sit still long enough to listen to me. But, I focused on the three that listened the most and really got their attention. I still spoke loudly and clearly enough that the whole group could hear me and occasionally I got answers from people standing behind me. The last time I spoke to a group of boys like this, they were too proud to show any concern, but this time, the boys had their mouths stopped as I spoke and were very receptive to the gospel.
I'll tell you, I was really scared for some reason tonight. I always get the jitters and find some reason why I shouldn't approach a group, or why I should just keep walking around without talking to people. But, I forced myself to push through that fear, and as always I found myself very comfortable once I took that first step and started talking with the group.
When I finished, I got a text message from my wife telling me that my seven year old daughter had "made a decision" at the church and I should come right away. I jumped in the car and raced back up to the church wondering what on earth my seven year old could have decided. She has heard me preach the gospel, and I think she has a pretty good grasp of the whole Law and Gospel thing, but I was still very curious. As I got there, I asked her what happened. She said, the children's pastor asked everyone to raise their hands if they had never accepted Jesus into their hearts. She raised her hand. Then he asked of those with hands raised if they would like to come in the back and speak to a counselor about letting Jesus live in their heart. She went in the back. I asked her what the counselor said to her. She said that they asked her if she would like to ask Jesus to live in her heart. She said yes. I then asked her what that means. She said, "I forget. Can we get some ice cream now." Phew, there is the seven year old that I know.
Friends, I am not against teaching kids about Jesus, I mean, I sent her to the Vacation Bible School. I talk to people every day about God's plan for salvation. But, do you see the juxtaposition here of two different gospels? How ironic that I am out talking to people about their sins, and their need for forgiveness and God's redemptive plan for them to avoid His justice and wrath. And, at my own church, they are asking my own daughter if she wants to be part of the Jesus club. I might not be able to change the whole system, but we really need to be so well versed in the biblical gospel that we can teach our own family, we can get so filled with His Word that when a false gospel comes along we won't be snared. I don't think you need to talk with a seven year old about hell and scare them. I have always spoken honestly with my daughter, but I really try to only give her what is age appropriate. Instead of watering down the gospel and saying that you just have to sing a song and let Jesus live inside your heart, I would rather just not approach it until she can grasp her need for a Savior.
I think if you are looking for a great place to start with your kids, you should check out Way of the Master For Kids, as it teaches children how to memorize the Ten Commandments, in just five minutes, and helps them understand why they need Jesus. Another one you can read online is here, "Hey Kids" Take five minutes to go through that site and see a great example of what is appropriate and completely biblical, to teach your children.