History of Children in Revival – John Wesley

John Wesley and his brother Charles were the founders of Methodism and preached during the first Great Awakening. He is also credited for later influencing the holiness movement and the Pentecostal movement. John was born in England in 1703. On May 24, 1738, on his way to preach in America, he met a Moravian missionary on the ship and experianced his evangelical conversion. Of that experiance, he said he felt, “his “heart strangely warmed”.

John Wesley had a powerful ministry to children. Here are a few of the quotes from his journals.

April 11, 1756. (Dublin) I met about a hundred children, who are catechized (instructed) publicly twice a week. Thomas Walsh began this some months ago, and the fruit of it appears already. What a pity, that all our preachers in every place, have not the zeal and wisdom to follow his example.

July 30, 1758. (Cork) I began meeting with the children in the afternoon, though with little hopes of doing them good; but I had not spoken long on our natural state before many of them were in tears, and five or six so affected, that they could not refrain from crying aloud to God. When I began praying, their cries increased, so that me voice was soon lost. I have seen no such work among children for eighteen or nineteen years.

January 17, 1772. (Hertford) I found the poor children whom Mr. A kept at school were increased to about thirty boys and girls. I went in immediately to the girls. As soon as I began to speak, some of them burst into tears, and their emotion rose higher and higher. But it was kept within bounds until I began to pray.

A cry then arose, which spread from one to another, till almost all cried aloud for mercy, and would not be comforted. But how the scene was changed when I went to the boys! They seemed as dead as stones, and scarce appeared to mind anything that was said, nay, some of them could hardly refrain from laughter.

However, I spoke on, and set before them the terrors of the Lord. Presently one was cut to the heart, soon after another, and another. In ten minutes the far greater part of them were affected as the girls had been. Except at Kingswood, I have seen not such work of God upon children for above thirty years.

History of Children in Revival – George Whitefield

Many don’t know the history of revival. Of those who do, most don’t know that wherever there was revival, children were a major part. If we want revival in America, we need to start with children.

George Whitefield was an evangelist during the first Great Awakening in the 1700s before the American Revolution. Whitefield was bornin England in 1714, and at the age of 18, studied theology at Oxford University. He felt the call of God to become a missionary in America. While waiting to go to America, he started preaching powerfully in London. Many would come to hear his sermons. Because he was so young, he was dubbed the boy preacher.

What people don’t know is that children were greatly affected during his ministry. In a letter dated September, 1741, Whitefield wrote,

“On Monday morning, I visited the children in the three hospitals….

On Thursday evening, I preached to the children of the city with a congregation of near 20,000 in the park. It is remarkable that many children are under convictions, and everywhere great power and apparent success attend the word preached.”

According to this account, Whitefield had a children’s meeting with 20,000 kids. He didn’t need games or skits to keep their attention. the power of God mesmerized them. In April of 1742, an Edinburgh minister wrote:

“On June 3, Whitefield arrived for his second visit to a rapturous welcome, and the following morning, three of the little boys that were converted when I was last here, came to me and wept and begged me to pray for and with them. A minister tells me that scarce one is fallen back who was awakened, either among old or young.”

Whitefield finally did go to America when he was only 25 years old and sparked America’s Great Awakening during a preaching tour of 1739-40. When first arrived, he started an orphanage to care for children and taught children’s classes or messages on a regular basis. Everywhere he traveled, children were at his meetings having their lives transformed.

5 Ways to Lead Children into a Heart Knowledge of God

Teaching the Bible systematically to children is important. I go so far to say it’s essential to have children grow up knowing the Word of God, but it’s not enough. Children need to have a heart knowledge of God even more than they need head knowledge. Children need to internalize the truths they learn and make them they’re own. To do this, they need to have their own relationship with God. Here’s some things to consider to determine if the children in your ministry have a heart knowledge.

WishingSalvation: Too many ministries focus on helping children know how to be good according to the Bible. It’s important for children to know what God expects from them, but they can never be good enough to please God. Children need to know that they are sinners and that Christ died for them so they could be set free from the curse of sin. He took their punishment. Until they give their sin to Him, they will never be saved no matter how good they are or how often they attend church.

Depositphotos_69423471_originalChanged Lives: Children need to know that when they are saved, their lives will change. They will want to please God and stay away from sin, and when they do sin, they can go to God to make it right. All morality and good works should stem from their relationship with God, not from trying to do good works or check the boxes to be a “good” Christian.

Cute african girlA Living Sacrifice: We need to teach children to understand that when they are saved, they’re giving their lives to God. God now has control and has a direction for their lives they need to follow. The more children yield to the direction of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the stronger they will grow spiritually.

Revival Celebration 1.2bHoly Spirit: Children don’t have a junior Holy Spirit. God has provided the fullness of the Holy Spirit in every Christian’s life regardless of age. We need to teach our children to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to yield to His direction in their lives. As they are continually being filled with the Holy Spirit, they can expect to be filled with love, grace, joy, peace, and power in their lives. The more they yield, the more they’ll be filled.

Revival Celebration 2.6Relationship: We need to teach children that once they are saved, they have a right relationship with the God who created the universe. They can talk to Him through prayer. They can get guidance from Him through the Bible. They can ask Him anything, and He will answer. They can fellowship with Him and come into His presence through praise and worship. When children have a relationship like this with God, they won’t fall away as teenagers or adults. They will stand firm through all the trials of life.

5 Ways to Encourage Children in Spiritual Gifts

Revival Celebration 2.6We’ve all seen videos of children in other churches preaching, teaching, prophesying, and laying hands on people, but many children’s pastors haven’t seen those gifts operational through children in their churches. Here are 3 ways to encourage children to develop and use their spiritual gifts.

Teach children about the spiritual gifts. The first step is to teach children what spiritual gifts are, where they are in the Bible, how they are operating in the church today, and that they are for everyone regardless of age.

Little boy praying with the Bible in hand

Give children instruction on using spiritual gifts. If your students are not familiar with using spiritual gifts, they will need encouragement and instruction. Don’t expect perfection from them, and don’t shut them down if they make mistakes. Mentor them through it.

Show children through example. If spiritual gifts aren’t operating through you during children’s services, you can’t expect the children in your ministry to go places you haven’t been. Pray for God to use you in supernatural ways.

Give children opportunities to minister. I sometimes ask children to pray at the altar for other. I’ve asked children if they have a word for the congregation. I’ve also asked if any of them have a message they would like to preach.

Revival Celebration 1.2bDon’t worry about it being messy. Children will make mistakes. That’s how they learn. Revival is messy, and sometimes you have to work through the mess, but don’t stop what God is doing because sometimes things get out of hand. Wildfire is easier to control than it is to get a fire started with wet wood.

3 Things We Want for Our Children that are Wrong

Culture has invaded the church in so many ways that sometimes we get locked into certain phrases that sound good but go against the Word of God. Here are five of them.

God wants you to be happy. Parents and teachers don’t normally say this because it doesn’t sound spiritual, but they act like it is true. They encourage children to do things and follow paths that will make them happy. In a way, this is true. The problem lies with finding our happiness through the things of the world. The world can never satisfy us, and the happiness it gives is fleeting and depends on circumstances around us. God doesn’t want our children find their happiness in anything except for Him. God wants us to have the joy of the Lord because through that joy, we find strength and living water that will refresh us regardless of the circumstances.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Being popular/successful/liked is important. We never tell our children this, but we all want our children to be successful. We encourage them to make the best grades, to go to the dances and proms, to play on the sports teams. We even encourage our children to do these that go against God’s Word to be popular. I’m sure many of you are thinking you would never do that. So let me ask you a few questions. Do you allow your child to play on a sports team that will consistently keep him out of church? Do you allow your child to read books, play video games, or watch TV programs that are popular yet have occult references or go against God’s Word in another way? Is your child allowed to spend the night at a friend’s house on Saturday night when it means not going to church? Have you ever kept your child home from church to do homework?Do you ever encourage your child not to make waves when the school or another secular activity is teaching him something contrary to God’s Word? There is nothing wrong with being popular, successful, or liked provided your children put God first and don’t pursue those things.

John 12:42-43 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.  

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a tservant of Christ.

A blue person stands out in a crowd holding a sign with the word God on it, spreading the holy teachings of the church and trying to convert others to a belief or faith

Follow your dreams/heart. The idea here is to encourage children to follow after what they want in life and to not let anything stop them. If we want our children to be committed to God, we need to teach them to seek what God wants for them, to follow God’s dreams and plans for their lives, and not to let anything stop them. We need to teach them to follow hard after God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.