When it comes to sharing the gospel, two of the most common questions I receive center around sharing the gospel with children. First, how do I share the gospel with my children? Second, how do I know when they are really understanding the gospel?
Maximize Interaction When Sharing the Gospel with Children
I encourage you to maximize interaction when talking with children about the gospel, and specifically about responding to the gospel. As you share the gospel, consistently ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation. Don’t ask questions like “Did you understand what I just shared?” or “Are you ready to trust in Jesus?” Yes and no questions are usually not the best way to gauge a child’s comprehension of the gospel.
Ask them questions to give them an opportunity to express their understanding of the gospel. Who is God? What does it mean that we are sinners? What has God done for us? How can we have a relationship with God? Maximize interaction with children through open-ended questions that bring them into a discussion about the gospel and faith.
Utilize Illustration When Sharing the Gospel with Children
Along the way, utilize illustration. Use pictures, stories, or concrete examples of what theological terms mean. I remember as a 6th grader having a dream to be a professional baseball player. I can still remember sitting with a man who was talking with me about what it means for Jesus to be the Lord of my life.
He told me, “To follow Jesus as Lord means that if he wants you to do something else besides baseball, that you would be willing to put down the bat and the ball and do whatever he tells you to do.” I remember that to this day, and I remember at that moment deepening my understanding of what it means to submit to Jesus as Lord. Think through illustrations, stories, and concrete examples that communicate biblical truths and gospel realities.
Use Repetition When Sharing the Gospel with Children
Parents, I encourage you to constantly emphasize the gospel in your home with your kids. All day long, every day, talk about the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, the necessity of faith, and the urgency of eternity.
Sometimes people think, “Well, I want my children’s faith to be their own, so I’m not going to pressure them.” Our goal is not to manipulate anyone into faith. As a child grows older, they will come more into their own, but as long as we are able, teach them the gospel.
We teach our kids how to eat and drink. We teach them how to put on their clothes and make their beds. They are taught to say, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” We teach them to play sports and music. Certainly, teaching them the gospel is more important than all of those things put together. Prioritize, more than anything, speaking the gospel day in and day out to your children. Share the gospel regularly so that it becomes a part of their understanding from the beginning of their lives.
How To Know When Your Child is a Christian
Sharing the gospel with children can lead to challenges, in a good way, because children at a young age who are being saturated with the gospel will oftentimes begin to respond to the gospel and talk about becoming a Christian. One of the biggest questions many Christian parents wonder about is, “When do I know that my child is a Christian? How do I know exactly when they become a Christian?” Obviously, for many reasons, this is a great question. Yet at the same time, this is where I want to encourage you, parents, not to fret too much over that question. Yes, without question, there comes a point when we place our faith in Christ. There is a point in time when we are forgiven by God and adopted by God as His children.
But that point in time may not be quite as discernible in a child’s life who has grown up immersed in the gospel as it might be in a 40-year-old man’s life who hears the gospel for the first time. When that 40-year-old man who’s been immersed in all kinds of things in the world hears the gospel for the first time and responds to it, there’s likely going to be a much more dramatic turning point than you might see in an 8-year-old’s life, and that’s okay. Wouldn’t it be a good thing for one of our children to look back at their life and say, “I can hardly even remember a time when I wasn’t turning from my sin and myself and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord”?
Continually Encourage Them to Trust the Lord
This is where I want to challenge you to continually encourage in your children a posture of turning and trusting. Instead of fretting over when that point of faith is, which may be discernible, encourage a posture, an attitude toward God, of continually turning from our sin and ourselves and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord. It’s never too young to be telling children to turn from their sin. It’s never too young for them to trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from David Platt’s message, The Necessity of Faith, and has been adapted for the purposes of this article.