by Jim and Janet Weidmann with Kurt Bruner
Some things to Consider
1. God is more concerned about your child’s eternal destiny and happiness than you are. “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
2. Pray specifically that God will give you insights and wisdom in dealing with each child on his or her maturity level.
3. Don’t use terms like “take Jesus into your heart,” “dying and going to hell,” and “accepting Christ as your personal Savior.” Children are either too literal (“How does Jesus breathe in my heart?”) or the words are too trite for their understanding.
4. Deal with each child alone, and don’t be in a hurry. Make sure he or she understands. Discuss. Take your time.
A Few Cautions:
1. When drawing children to Himself, Jesus said for others to “allow” them to come to Him (see Mark 10:14). Only with adults did he use the term “compel” (see Luke 14:23). Do not compel children.
2. Remember that unless the Holy Spirit is speaking to the child, there will be no genuine heart experience of regeneration. Don’t get caught up in the idea that Jesus will return the day before you were going to speak to your child about salvation and that it will be too late.
Look at God’s character—He is love! He is not dangling your child’s soul over hell. Wait on God’s timing. Pray with faith, believing. Be concerned, but don’t push.
1. God loves you. Recite John 3:16 with your child’s name in place of “the world.”
2. Show the child his or her need of a Savior.
- Deal with sin carefully. There is one thing that cannot enter heaven–sin.
- Be sure your child knows what sin is. Ask him to name some (things common to children–lying, sassing, disobeying, etc.). Sin is doing or thinking anything wrong according to God’s Word. It is breaking God’s law.
- Ask the question “Have you sinned?” If the answer is no, do not continue. Urge him to come and talk to you again when he does feel that he has sinned. You may want to have prayer first, however, thanking God “for this young child who is willing to do what is right.” Make it easy for him to talk to you again, but do not continue. Do no say, “Oh, yes, you have sinned!” and then name some. With children, wait for God’s conviction.
- If the answer is yes, continue. He may even give a personal illustration of some sin he has done recently or one that has bothered him.
- Tell him what God says about sin: We’ve all sinned (“There is not one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3:10). And because of that sin, we can’t get to God (“For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23). So He had to come to us (“but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 6:23).
- Relate God’s gift of salvation to Christmas gifts–we don’t earn them or pay for them; we just accept them and are thankful for them.
3. Bring the child to a definite decision.
- Christ must be received if salvation is to be possessed.
- Remember, do not force a decision.
- Ask the child to pray out loud in her own words. Give her some things she could say if she seems unsure. Now be prepared for a blessing! (It is best to void having the child repeat a memorized payer after you. Let her think, and make it personal.)*
- After salvation has occurred, pray for her out loud. There is a good way to pronounce a blessing on her.
4. Lead your child into assurance.
5. Show him that he will have to keep his relationship open with God through repentance and forgiveness (just like with his family or friends), but that God will always love him (“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5).
*If you wish to guide your child through the prayer, here is some suggested language.
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner [have child name specific sins he or she acknowledged earlier, such as lying, stealing, disobeying, etc.] I know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all my sins. I ask You to forgive me of my sins. I believe that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead, and I accept Him as my Savior. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
If you would like more information about Jesus Christ, His offer of free salvation, and answers to life’s many questions you may have, check out the Billy Graham Evangelical Association website