I heard something on the radio today that disturbed me greatly. What was it? A preacher trying to tell parents the way to tell their kids about God, Jesus, and salvation. Ugh. No. He was tossing words out there like “justification.” Yeah, say that word to your three year old, and see if they understand. The preacher was making a point in saying that you just keep telling the child the same thing over and over, and eventually, mysteriously, they’ll get it.
Any developmentalist will tell you that you don’t talk to a three year old the way you talk to a nine year old, it’s useless. The preacher seemed to think that a child has to jump through a series of hoops in order to be well and truly saved, and that the kid needs to know everything an adult would know, and that the child needs to make sure to be old enough, etc… Well, yeah, children need to have an understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did. But, Jesus didn’t ask how old the children were who wanted to come to Him.
Anyone, regardless of age is allowed to go to Jesus, in fact, it is encouraged. The child isn’t going to be able to set down and write out a dissertation on sin and redemption, but that’s fine. A child’s faith is held up as what we adults are to aim for. A parent needs to evaluate each child and not compare them to one another. Some will “get it” sooner than others, and that’s fine. It is indeed your responsibility to always check along the way, for example, when your child wants to take communion, you need to make sure they do understand what it means.
Further, parents, it is your job to teach you children, not a preacher. You need to know your own faith, and why you have it, good enough to explain that to your children. Know faith and grace, know scripture, know Jesus. Remember your kids are watching you and you need to make sure you realize you are their number one model. Also, realize your child does not know what you know, you are not your child. You may know that baptism isn’t required for salvation, and why, but your kids don’t, unless you TEACH them.
Some parents think that they can just give their children books, or have them watch cartoons, or listen to a certain preacher and that will be fine. No, it won’t. You are to raise your children up with the instruction that they need from you personally. Ask questions, and then really listen to their answers. Listen to sermons together, watch those cartoons together. Read the Bible together, and don’t water it down.
As a final thought; as you walk this road with your child, I would bet they’ll teach you a lot about God too, so be willing to learn.