How to Lead Your Child to Christ
by Sarah Savage, Director of Children's Ministry | Reprinted from COLUMNS Magazine
As parents, there are hundreds of moments we celebrate with our children throughout their lifetime. Whether we are coaxing them toward us as babies taking their first steps, guiding their hand as they sketch their own name for the first time, or watching them make the right choices as teenagers (without our prompting), each moment matters.
But none matters more than the moment when your child acknowledges God’s goodness and begins to follow Him.
However, many parents feel unprepared when faced with the questions and the steps of helping lead their children to Jesus. In the midst of teaching our kids safety, preparing for school, playing sports, and enjoying friends, our tendency can be to fall back on the church to be solely responsible for guiding a child’s Christian experience. In reality, most children are only at church 1-2 hours a week.
A SPECIAL CALLING
As a parent, God has uniquely called each of us to personal discipleship of our children. This can feel like a tall order (and it is), but we don’t do it in a vacuum. We have the support of our covenant family at the church, other parents, and our friends in SHINE. But most importantly, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us.
As parents who are followers of Christ, we should be desperate for our children to know Jesus personally. You’ve probably heard it said: there is a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God. My absolute favorite book in the whole world (other than the Bible), Raising Kids to Love Jesus by Norman Wright and Gary Oliver, says this:
“The ultimate goal of Christian parenting is not kids who merely have a knowledge about God. It is kids who have personal relationship with God. It is kids who really believe that God’s Word is relevant for every aspect of their lives. It involves teaching our children the ways of God, helping them to become sensitive to the darkness of their own hearts and the danger of walking alone and trusting in themselves. It involves teaching them the power of the Cross and the provision of God’s promises.”
Leading our children to Christ is the single most important thing we can do for our children and a moment we need to be ready for. Every other moment we share with our children will be temporary; this moment will echo in eternity.
HOW TO HELP
How do we help our child learn and respond when the moment arrives? Below is the language we use in SHINE Children’s Ministry, along with some verses to help frame the conversation.
Admit that you are a sinner and that you need a Savior. Admit that you do things that are wrong by disobeying God’s commands. Admit that you cannot stop disobeying God’s commands on your own and that you need someone to forgive you when you disobey (sin). Understand that the good things we do are not good enough to balance out the bad. You cannot earn forgiveness of sins.
Believe that Jesus is the only Savior who can truly forgive your sins. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to Earth to take on the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross, and that He overcame death by arising from the dead on the third day. Jesus’ resurrection is necessary proof to show that His payment for sin was full and final. Believe that we need to live like Jesus.
Commit to follow Jesus and live your life the way Jesus tells you to. Jesus commands you to follow Him. Understand that the Holy Spirit will help you follow Jesus. You may not hear God’s voice speaking to you but you can hear His voice in the Bible which is God’s written word. Understand that when you sin, you are able to repent (turn away from your sin and turn to God’s ways) and believe (believe that you are forgiven). Then you can experience God’s grace, forgiveness and victory over sin.
OUR OWN LIVES
Entrusted with this gift of discipling our children, we shepherd our family in faith, knowing that what they see at home on a day-to-day basis will build the framework of their understanding of a relationship with God. In their book, Wright and Oliver leave us with this reminder:
“We can’t give our kids what we don't have; we can’t take them where we haven’t been and aren't willing to go. If we aren't willing to let God parent our hearts, if we aren't willing to trust Him as our Good Shepherd, if we don’t listen to His voice and follow Him, why should our children be willing to let Him, through us, parent their hearts? If our kids aren't observing us becoming more like Christ, why should they want to become more like Him?”
- Think about the number of hours your child is with you or away from you during the week. When and how can you teach them about having a special relationship with God?
- As you look at the steps above, reflect on your own experience. Have you acknowledged these things in your own life and committed yourself to God?