My two older daughters both were baptized in kindergarten. Yes, they were both very young. I had the intention with both to encourage them to wait until they were older. However, both made decisions for Christ that I felt were genuine, both could explain the gospel in age-appropriate language, and both really were excited to go public with their faith. (You can see how excited Brenna was here.)
Brenna is now ten. A few months ago she told me she wasn’t entirely sure she understood salvation when she was baptized. Yikes. Isn’t this the moment we all fear when our own children or children within our church make early decisions for Christ? We all know (and remember and maybe were part of) the multiple baptisms that happened in our youth groups because kids had second thoughts about their first decisions.
How do we handle conversations like the one with Brenna?
- Don’t freak out and don’t dismiss their concerns. Your child probably isn’t going to hell because he asked such a question. 🙂 You probably didn’t ruin her whole spiritual future. Appreciate that your child felt safe enough with you to ask a really hard question. Don’t blow it off but don’t blow it out of proportion either. I think I said something like, “What’s made you think about that?” or “Tell me more about that.” I tried to listen first. Then I told her that ultimately only she and God knew about her salvation, but I asked if I could share my thoughts with her. I then shared most of what is written below.
- Understand that most of the time this is a developmental issue, not a false salvation issue. As kids get older and as they learn more in church and at home, they will have a clearer understanding of what sin is, what Jesus did for them, and what it means for Him to be Lord of their lives. I have a better understanding of all of those things now than when I was 20! Just because your child has a better understanding now doesn’t mean he didn’t understand it when he was younger. Brenna had a five year old faith when she was five, and Scripture speaks pretty highly of a child-like faith. It is natural and it is good that her faith and understanding have grown, but that doesn’t negate that she had a saving faith at five.
- Remind them that salvation is based on God’s grace and our faith in Him. Some kids don’t like that they can’t remember praying and asking Jesus into their hearts. I take them back to Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I ask if they trust that Jesus is Lord and if they believe that God raised Him from the dead. Brenna’s answer was, “Of course”. I reminded her that her faith was what mattered.
- When your child makes an early decision, record their testimony. This idea sounds fancier than it really is. Take out your phone. Record them explaining what the gospel is and their faith in Jesus. Remember that they are kids and their words may not come out like we would script it. But record a conversation with them about believing in Jesus. Save this away for the day when the questions come.
Have you dealt with this in your family or children’s ministry? What would you add to this?