How do children become Christians? It is no different for children than it is for adults. It’s simple, yet deeply profound. Becoming a Christian begins with God’s free offer of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus began His ministry with the declaration, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). According to the Bible, we must repent and believe in Jesus as Lord. The word repent simply means to “turn” or “change one’s mind.” The first step is to repent and turn away from our sins to turn to God in faith. This is the starting place for receiving the gospel.
The next step is to believe the good news, which is the meaning of the word gospel. The word believe literally means “a firm persuasion, or trust” in God. Belief is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. The Bible clearly tells us that we must believe that Jesus is Lord. Paul puts it into clear perspective by telling us, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). All we need to do is put our faith and hope in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Encourage your child to simply trust in Him alone to save them through what He has done for them on the cross. Ask them to surrender their life to Him today and begin to follow Him.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). Likewise, we must ask ourselves the same question and decide for ourselves. In the end, a person must either accept the claims of the Bible in faith or dismiss them entirely. C. S. Lewis wrote,
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool; you can spit at Him and kill Him for a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [London: Harper Collins, 1952], 54–56.)
It is important to remember that while we play a vital a role in bringing our children to faith, it is ultimately God who saves our children. We can teach our children about Christ, but salvation is ultimately God’s work. Knowing this will keep us from spiritual pride and thinking that we somehow caused our children’s salvation. Our role as parents is to live and to share the gospel, while it is always God that saves. Therefore, as parents, we do our part and then watch God’s Spirit work in our children’s hearts.
Ideas for Leading Your Child to Christ
As you prepare to discuss salvation with your child, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Rest in God’s timing. Salvation belongs to God, so rest in the fact that He is at work in the life of your child.
2. Spend time in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your child’s heart to receive the gospel message in faith.
3. Read the Bible regularly. The Word says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Our children need to hear the Word of God to open their hearts and minds to their need of salvation.
4. Teach your children the gospel. Talk to your children about what God has done for them through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
5. Talk to them in a conversational way. Use simple words your child will understand and try to avoid theological terminology and phrases that might confuse your child.
6. Don’t coerce your child to make a decision. Your child’s salvation is a matter between God and your child. The Holy Spirit must be the one who convicts your child of their sin and need for salvation.
Find out more with Winfield’s new book Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship. Written for families of all ages and backgrounds, Grow at Home unpacks these ideas with a practical guide to family discipleship. When we bring the gospel back in the home, it will spread through our neighborhoods and into the communities where we live. Let the journey begin!