Sharing the Gospel with Your Kids

As our kids grow, we have a responsibility to make their spiritual growth a priority. This doesn’t simply involve reading a Bible storybook to them a few times a week. It also means having intentional times when we simply share the gospel and invite our children to respond by believing it and then obeying the Bible’s command to be baptized.

I know many parents feel intimidated by these kinds of conversations. How do I help my child understand things that are still a mystery to me?  Be encouraged. While you bear some responsibility to teach your children, God is ultimately the author of their faith. So, when the moment comes, say a quick prayer. Lean into the Lord and ask him for help, wisdom and discernment as you share the gospel with your child. 

The next step is simply sharing the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Here is a simple way we teach it in Sojourn Kids. This gospel presentation contains five simple truths.

  • First, God rules. God is the king of the universe. God made the whole world and everything in it. And because God made everything, he is also in charge of everything. But God isn’t mean, selfish, or weak like human kings. God is the good king. He is just, loving, and powerful. And he wants us to be close to him—to trust him and live a good life in his kingdom – the life we were created for.

    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.”

  • Second, we sinned. The problem with our world is that we have rejected God as our king. We’ve said no to God, and we’ve tried to live life our own way apart from him. Whenever we fight—whether it’s over the last cookie or the first place in line—we’re trying to get our own way instead of his. The Bible calls this sin. Sin is saying no to God. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned, and this sin separates us from God.

    Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • Third, sin leads to death. Here’s the truth. We were made to be with God. Though it may work for a little while to live life on our own, eventually the pain of being far away from God in a broken world shows us that something is wrong. People start to see that nothing else will satisfy and they look for ways to get back to God. We try to be good enough—to make a fresh start. We want to be smart enough so we search for the right answers. We might even get busy with churchy activities. But these are broken bridges that lead to sadness, confusion, and judgment. God is still far away.

    Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.

  • Fourth, God provided at the cross. The pit created by sin is so wide that you can’t measure it, and there is nothing we can do to bridge the gap. We can’t pay for our crimes and put things back the way they’re meant to be. We can’t climb up to God, but God has come to us. Jesus is God’s son. Jesus was born on earth—fully God and fully man. He lived with God perfectly. Then, he suffered and died on the cross to pay the punishment our sins deserve. Three days later, Jesus rose to life and won victory over sin and death. Because of Jesus, we can live close with God again.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  • Finally, God gives us his love and grace. God gets close to us, and he still loves us. This is such good news! God accepts us—not because we have earned it or deserve it—but just because he loves us. He showed you how much he loves you by sending Jesus.

    Now, Jesus is inviting you to come into his kingdom and receive his love by trusting him. If sin is saying no to God, then trust is saying yes. Will you say yes to Jesus?

    You can say this to God: Dear God, I trust you with my life. I’ve tried to rule your world as my own. I’ve said no to you, and I’m sorry. Thank for sending Jesus to die so that I might live. I trust Jesus as my king. I trust only him to save me and help me live with you. Amen.

    Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So, that’s the gospel in five simple steps. And I want to encourage you to intentionally share it with your kids then call them to respond.

At the end of that conversation, if your child just isn’t ready, don’t try to pressure or manipulate them. And don’t be discouraged. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t saved or that they won’t be saved. Jesus didn’t identify his own faith as separate from his parents until the age of twelve, and he was not baptized until age thirty. Keep praying for your child and find a time in the future to come back to this conversation again.

On the other hand, if your child says “Yes!” don’t be tempted to doubt their sincerity. Take it at face value. We know that Jesus loves children and desires to save them, so eagerly encourage your kids to keep on believing—not just today but throughout their life. I pray this simple outline will help you intentionality share the gospel with your child.

 

If you liked this post, check out my Are You Close To God? gospel booklet. The illustrations on each page of this booklet correspond with the training video above. Use them to show and tell kids how God has come to us through Jesus, and how we can receive his love by saying "yes!" and putting all of our trust in him.  Click here to purchase.

 

Should my child get baptized?

baptism.jpg

Many young parents have asked the question, “When is the best time to baptize my child?” It’s an important question, and it’s an important one for both parents and church leaders to be asking. If a child says they love and trust Jesus, we must take it at face value. We know that Jesus loves children and desires to save them (Matt. 19:14), so we should be eager to welcome kids to him and baptize them. At the same time, we don’t want kids to pursue baptism simply because their parents want them to be baptized. The church is responsible to baptize only believers, those whom God has saved and changed. So, as you, parents and church ministry leaders, consider whether or not the child in your care is ready, here are seven things to keep in mind:

1) Your first job is to clearly explain the gospel.

It’s really important that your family sits under biblically faithful, gospel-centered teaching week after week in your local church. It’s also important that you take time to clearly explain the gospel to your child as well. This may mean reading a Bible storybook to them a few times a week. But it also means having intentional times when you simply share the gospel and invite your child to respond by believing it and then obeying the Bible’s command to be baptized.

2) When you share the gospel, emphasize what Jesus has done.

Too often when sharing the gospel with children, we emphasize the ABCs: (A) Admit you are a sinner; (B) Believe in Jesus; and (C) Confess faith in him. There’s nothing wrong with this (see Romans 10:9-10) so long as we’re also clear that salvation is not about what the child does but about what Christ has done for them. If we only talk to kids about what they should do, we run the risk of confusing or discouraging them. When a child becomes aware of their sin, they may become introspective and worry, “Did I do enough? How can Jesus live in my heart when I still get so angry?” What Jesus has done for us through his cross and resurrection is the most important thing—so much more important than what we do. He saves us. We do not save ourselves. So, use a gospel presentation method that emphasizes Christ’s saving work; you might consider Billy Graham’s Steps to Peace With God or my own Are You Close to God? Then, teach kids to look away from themselves to the love and forgiveness that comes because “Christ loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

3) Don’t be intimidated, because salvation belongs to the Lord.

I know many parents feel intimidated by these kinds of conversations. “How do I help my child understand things that are still a mystery to me?” Be encouraged. While you bear some responsibility to teach your children, God is ultimately the author of their faith (Jonah 2:9; Acts 17:26). As much as we may want to speed up their commitment, Jesus ultimately is the one who calls the shots. So, when the moment comes, say a quick prayer. Lean into the Lord and ask him for help, wisdom and discernment as you share the gospel with your child. And if you’re child is taking time to process, keep on being intentional. Invest the time to pray for, study, and sit with them. Your willingness to do so will help them see that their spiritual life and growth is a priority for you.

4) Look for a change of heart

After your child has made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, look for a change in their heart. Does your child acknowledge and have a distaste for sin that was not there before their confession of faith? Is there a willingness to admit wrongs, apologize, ask for forgiveness, and forgive others when necessary? Is she showing a desire to pray and read her Bible? Does your child look forward to going to church and being with other believers? Conviction about sin, an increased desire to know God, and the practice of spiritual disciplines are all evidences of the Holy Spirit's work.

5) Work with the church to teach your kids the meaning of baptism.

When a child has begun to show an interest and desire to be baptized, dig a little deeper and ask, “Why do you want to be baptized?” Then, take that opportunity to teach them the meaning and right motivation for baptism. Baptism is a covenant sign that symbolizes our faith in Christ and our entrance into God’s family (Col. 2:11-12). Baptism is a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-11); It shows how our story is connected with Jesus’s story. Baptism is a symbol of cleansing from sin (Acts 22:16); It shows how our sins have been washed away. Baptism is an act of obedience both for the individual (Acts 2:38) and the church community (Matt. 28:18-20). So, the church and family should work together to teach kids these truths. Parents should look to the church to provide clear teaching on the gospel and baptism. They should also look to their pastors and church community for prayer and support as they seek to pass on these truths at home.

6) It’s okay if your child isn’t ready.

After teaching, don’t be discouraged if your child wants to take more time to process. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t saved or that they won’t be saved. Jesus didn’t identify his own faith as separate from his parents until the age of twelve, and he was not baptized until age thirty. Christians are saved by faith, not by baptism. Know and rely on the love that Christ has for you and for your child. And lean on your church leadership or other believers if you have questions about what to say and do next.

7) Finally, when the day comes, celebrate your child’s baptism with joy.

Once you begin planning your child’s baptism, focus on helping them celebrate it with joy. Invite friends and family to be there to celebrate this day with you. It is a day that should be cherished. And don’t forget that this day is also an opportunity to share the good news of your testimony with others. Baptism is a public expression of our faith. So, convey to your children that their baptism may be used by Jesus to save others.

Any time a child is baptized, there are varying emotions—joy, excitement, and gratitude. It’s a great privilege to teach our children about Jesus, see them come to faith, and participate in their baptism. But don’t just cherish the day of baptism; cherish the entire process.

This post first appeared at the Sojourn Network blog.

Family Friday Links 1.5.18

Family Friday Links.png

Happy New Year! Here's what we've been reading online lately.

Greg Baird has a post on volunteer training. He lists 13 ways to accomplish this important task. This well worth the time of any leader of any children's or youth ministry.

Jason Allen had a post on leading kids to Christ. He writes what every parent feels, "I feel the weight—and glory—of this stewardship daily and find immeasurable fulfillment and joy as I see my children taking steps toward Christ." He goes on to list 10 tips, and they are valuable, check them out.

The Gospel Coalition had a post reviewing a modern, secular view of marriage. It warns against selfishness in marriage. The post concludes this way, "To marry is to give yourself away to find that you gained another person, and that your union exudes more life than the calculated transactions between two allied individuals." This is a valuable read for those married as well as those thinking about it.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section and we will check it out.

Family Friday Links 12.8.17

Family Friday Links.png

Here's what we've been reading online this week:

Corey Jones had a post on having the "salvation discussion". He asks the question, "What could happen spiritually for a family, if instead of a pastor taking over and leading their child to Christ, we empowered the parents in this faith milestone?" He goes on to list 7 things that parents need to keep in mind when they do have that talk.

Joshua Straub had a post with a video link on the topic of family and Christmas. He wrote, "The Christmas season has the power to pull us away from our family." The post goes on to list 3 ways to protect that time.

Gospel Centered Parenting had a post entitled, "Trusting God with your child's wellbeing". It reads, "Whatever life throws at our baby will not come as a surprise to Jesus, and he will be there as a reliable, living, kind stronghold." This a great reminder for all parents.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave a link in the comment section for us to check out.