So we think we have to water down the gospel in order to get kids saved. Cuz after all they can’t understand much about spiritual things, right? But we don’t. We’ve substituted phrases like “Do you want to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and make him the boss (Lord) of your life?” for “Wouldn’t you like to be best friends with God?” Now which one of those two phrases is actually the gospel?
No “Candy Cane” Salvation
Little kids and big kids can handle to the truth, and to give them anything less is to jeopardize whether or not they really got saved because we have given them a candy cane salvation.
A good friend of mine, Jerry Moyer, who’s been a children’s evangelist for 30 years recently said, “There is much confusion today about what it means to be a Christian. It is very important that what we teach children about their relationship with God is accurate. When we just teach children that salvation is “being friends with God” or “having Jesus as their best friend” we are not exactly presenting the full scope of what being a Christian really is.
I have a curriculum for children’s church on the many biblical ways to explain salvation to children called I’ve got good news. You can get a copy here: https://kidsinministry.org/more-stuff/good-news/
God’s Love and Repentence
We often tell children that there is nothing so bad that they can do that Jesus will ever stop loving them. And it’s true isn’t it? But too often we have been guilty of teaching them about a fuzzy feel-good Jesus who accepts them just the way they are, with no accountability to turn repent and turn from their wicked ways and follow Jesus. The Bible says repent and believe and whether you are five or 105, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all in need of a savior no matter our age. In fact Isaiah 48:8 says You have been rebels from birth! Sin starts early and we all have to take responsibility for our actions.
To be born again is a transformation of the heart. Ezekiel 36:26-28 said I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” He said, “I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.
There is a noticeable definable change that happens in a person who asks Jesus to be the Lord of their lives. Kids can understand this. Just like this toy caterpillar. There is a literal change that takes place in our lives when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives. The bible says old things pass away and behold all things become new. Just like this caterpillar will go through a metamorphosis and become a new creature- a butterfly! That’s what happens to us in the spirit! Our hearts become new. We are changed into the likeness of God!
Becoming Friends with God
Becoming best friends with God is a process that happens over time. It’s what happens after the change of salvation occurs. We really need to watch how we explain things to our children and not be afraid to use actual Bible terminology like repent, and repentance, redemption, judgement, righteousness, holiness, and being born again. Just explain to them in simple terms what they mean.
I’ve been given a hard time for years about saying that little kids need to repent of their sins. “How much sin can a five year old have, anyway?” They’ll mock. Hey look, if you work with kids for very long, you learn they instinctively know when they have done wrong, and you don’t yell at them, put a guilt trip on them, or pressure them into praying a prayer. Just ask parents whether or not they could see a change in their children after they confessed their sins and gotten born again.
When I asked a group on FB one mother said, “Absolutely I saw a change in them! All of my children got saved between about 4 and 6. One of my kids who struggled with lying had an immediate change. Another who struggled with anger outbursts had a quick repentance on her own after she would mess up. All of them required much less discipline as their conscience was activated.
Another parent said, “When my girls got saved they did change. Being close on age they weren’t the easiest to get along with. When Jesus came into their lives the youngest dragged every kid in the neighborhood in to our house to find Jesus. Then shortly after they wanted to be filled with Holy Spirit. They both got filled one night at bedtime and I could hear songs in the spirit at night.”
I myself had a friend with a strong-willed child that was constantly in trouble. During on discipline session the mom talked to him about sin and asked if he wanted to ask Jesus to forgive and be born again. He did and she told me later she saw a distinct difference in him after that.
For kids who are basically compliant to begin with, you might not see the same distinction. Not every parent sees a dramatic change, so don’t get too uptight about it. BUT you should be able to have discussions with them asking them that let you know they know there is something different in their hearts. Type down in the description below and tell me what has your experience been with your kids?
Are Your Kids Born Again?
Every Christian parent should care whether or not their children become born again. It drives me crazy when parents say, Oh just let them grow up and they’ll come around. Here’s another one— well we have a strong Christian home. I know my child will get saved eventually because we’re all Christians here. The biggest delusion a parent can have is to assume their children will grow up to be Christians just because they are!
Of course, we can’t make it happen. It has to happen by the Spirit of God when they are ready, and only God knows when that is. Some kids raised in Christian homes don’t get saved until they become teenagers. But you should be praying everyday that your children will understand the gospel and receive Jesus as Lord as early as possible. It should be something we bring up and talk about with our kids in the course of our everyday lives. Don’t wait for your kids pastor to be the first one to them about salvation. Talk about your own salvation experience, and have your spouse do the same. They need to know that something significant and worth having happened in your life, and hopefully it will make them hungry to have their own experience with God for themselves!
Have you shared your testimony with your kids? You don’t have to give them all the dark an dirty stuff. But you should be able to explain in simple terms the transformation that took place in you.
Our goal should be to present the glorious gospel to our children from the youngest of ages! This is another topic for another day, but children can be authentically born again as young as three, four and five years old! Talk to your children about what salvation is. 2 Cor 5:17 says that if we are in Christ we a new creation. This is a TOTAL TRANSFORMATION in which we receive cleansing form sin and a new desire to be a faithful follower of Christ.