Jesus’ admonition to Nicodemus in John 3 is familiar… “You must be born again!” As Christian adults, we understand that “unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3). But what about the children under our care? How do we, as parents and teachers, go about preparing kids for salvation and a life of devotion to Jesus?
Let me suggest four “guide posts” that can help us as we encounter the often challenging issues associated with children and salvation and prepare them for the “second birth” to which Jesus referred.
Lay A Foundation with Bible Knowledge
Simple knowledge of the Bible often is underrated. Sometimes we focus so much on behavior and “application” that we forget the value and power of simply teaching kids the content of the Bible. We often fail to see how God is able to take the “facts” of a Bible story or lesson and, sometimes years later, bring those facts to mind in a way that impacts the child’s heart at just the right time. The “seeds” of God’s Word generally will grow mysteriously… in ways we don’t typically understand. Be diligent about teaching the Bible’s content. God can use it in ways and at times we may find unpredictable, but real nonetheless.
Build Community Through the Church
A church family will allow a child to see God and His Word at work in the lives of people beyond his or her immediate family. Kids need to see that God’s family extends beyond their own. This has always been the case. God has always called His people to live in the context of a larger community of faith. It can also help to know the child is engaged in a well-conceived Bible study plan for kids that is offered in most churches. Whatever problems you may have with the institutional church, the fact remains that the local church is an expression of the Bride of Christ. Why would we not want our children to be associated with the people our Savior loves and gave Himself for?
Foster a Spiritual Environment in the Home
There will be no greater spiritual influence in the life of a child than the home. This influence can be good or bad, but it’s virtually always powerful. Young children lack the maturity to understand why parents may choose to reject the church or things that demonstrate a love for Jesus in the home. They just know what they see and hear. If you do things to demonstrate love for Jesus, then they will be more likely to love Jesus also. If a visible devotion to the Lord is absent from your home, then don’t expect them to adopt your faith by accident. Show your kids that you love Jesus by fostering a spiritual environment in your home.
Place Your Faith in the Spirit
Preparing kids for salvation isn’t always easy. We want to encourage our kids to trust Him, but we also want to be sure they’re ready. So, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about something only God can do through His Spirit. If you find yourself growing impatient because your child is not showing signs of being ready, be patient. The Lord knows your child better than you do. The Lord sees deeper into his or her heart than you can. The Lord is able to bring together the influences of His Word, the church, and the home to accomplish His purposes in the life of your child when the time is right. Trust Him to do His gracious work.
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.