Have you introduced your child to a celebrity? Your boss or a respected leader? A college roommate or childhood friend? When I was about 9 years old, my dad arranged for me to meet Frank Sutton (a.k.a. Sergeant Carter) from the TV series, "Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C." Although my encounter lasted about 60 seconds, I still have the piece of paper with his autograph.
As parents, we are eager to introduce our children to other people. However, some parents virtually hyperventilate when they think about introducing their child to the most important person who ever lived, Jesus Christ. You may even equate talking about Jesus with having "the talk" with your child.
However, according to Deuteronomy 6:4-7, talking about spiritual matters should be the norm. Introducing your child to Jesus can be as natural as talking about your shared interests. Do you and your child share a passion for sports or an enjoyment of books? What do you regularly talk about with your child? Talking with your child about Jesus begins in the womb and extends throughout your lifetimes.
Not a One-Time Event
The conversation with your child about Jesus actually begins as a dialogue between you and God. Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Maybe you're a Christian, but your relationship with Jesus has grown cold. Take time to assess your own relationship with Jesus.
Early in our marriage, my wife and I employed simple sentences such as, "Thank You, God, for the flowers," to help lay spiritual foundations in the young children we taught. Later, as parents, we talked about Jesus regularly, read books about Jesus, and sang our boys to sleep with songs about Jesus.
We also engaged our children in conversations about what they were learning at church. And when we talked about school and situations with friends, we did so with a Christ focus. Having ongoing spiritual conversations with your child prepares you to guide her in understanding the gospel.
A Point in Time
How do you know when it's time to guide your child to become a Christian? The Holy Spirit prompts each of us at different ages and times. There is no set age that a child automatically is ready to trust in Jesus. However, here are some indicators that the Holy Spirit may be at work in your child:
Your child asks questions on a regular basis about becoming a Christian.
She exhibits genuine remorsefulness, not caused by parental punishment.
He understands what sin is and doesn't just give rote answers.
In her own words, she expresses what Jesus did for her and why.
This list is not exhaustive and does not guarantee that your child is ready to receive God's gift of forgiveness. However, when the Holy Spirit impresses you to share the gospel with your child, you may want to use the following outline.
The Gospel: God's Plan for Me
God rules. The Bible tells us God created everything, including you and me, and He is in charge of everything (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16-17).
We sinned. Since the time of Adam and Eve, everyone has chosen to disobey God (Romans 3:23). The Bible calls this sin. Because God is holy, God cannot be around sin. Sin separates us from God and deserves God's punishment of death (Romans 6:23).
God provided. God sent His Son, Jesus, the perfect solution to our sin problem, to rescue us from the punishment we deserve (John 3:16). It's something we, as sinners, could never earn on our own. Jesus alone saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus gives. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again. Because Jesus gave up His life for us, we can be welcomed into God's family for eternity (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). This is the best gift ever!
We respond. We can respond to Jesus when prompted by the Holy Spirit to receive the gift Jesus offers.
Admit to God that you are a sinner. Tell God you messed up and are sorry for doing your own thing. Repent, turning from your sin and turning to Jesus, trusting only in Him to save you.
Believe that Jesus is God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin. Trust only in Jesus and what He did for you through His life, death, and resurrection.
Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Tell God and others what you believe. IfJesus is your Savior, you are trusting only in Him to save you. Jesus is also Lord, which means He is in charge and calling the shots in your life.
Continuing the Conversation
Your child may not be ready to trust in Jesus the first time you talk with her about becoming a Christian. Don't force your child to pray a prayer she's not ready to pray. Instead, let her know that she can talk to you anytime.
Once your child receives God's gift of salvation, become his primary discipleship partner. Help your child establish a daily time of prayer and Bible reading by working through a devotional guide with him. As your child grows in his relationship with Jesus, he will want to be baptized and spend more time with teachers and friends at church.
At some point in your child's life, she may doubt if she is a Christian. Point your child to the gospel, walking through her initial encounter with Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to assure her that she is a Christian or convict her that she's not. Support your child as she wrestles spiritually.
Introducing your child to Jesus is the greatest calling you have, and the task begins before he is born. You cannot force your child to become a Christian; but you can pray for him, engage in a lifelong conversation with him about the gospel, and encourage him to trust in and follow Jesus.
This article is courtesy of ParentLife Magazine.