What does true faith look like in kids? It’s easy to believe that since certain kids go to church, have Christian parents, or are well-behaved, they’re truly Christians. Do we really need to keep sharing the Gospel?
Here are 4 ideas that can help as we seek to discern where kids are in their spiritual position in Christ.
First, run a diagnosis. Rather than diving in and telling kids what they need to know about being a Christian, why not begin by asking them what they think being a Christian means? If they consider themselves to be Christians, ask them to finish this sentence: “I am a Christian because…” If they finish the sentence with phrases like: “I’m a good person,” “I got baptized,” or “I go to church,” they’re likely cultural Christians and have not come to a saving faith.
They may also wrongly assume they’re Christians because they know Christian phrases, wear Christian t-shirts, or because their parents are Christians. If the answer is vague, ask follow-up questions to see how much they understand the Gospel. This will help you see what they believe and can help you know what areas to focus on in future conversations. Help guide kids to a biblical understanding of what being a Christian means.
The second way to know where kids are spiritually is to look for a desire to grow. Christians are saved and daily transformed by God’s grace. God the Holy Spirit faithfully works on the hearts of believers to shape them into the image of Christ. As He works in hearts, he produces fruit. One evidence, or fruit, is the believer’s desire for growth.
Kids who come to know Christ as Savior will start to show this desire. Do they ask questions about God and the Bible? Are they excited to go to Sunday School? Do they read their Bibles or devotionals without prompting from adults? These are all signs the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts. You may be able to discern their attitude toward growth by asking them what they have learned about God recently.
Third, look for fruitful lives. The Holy Spirit works in the believer, moving them to act, speak, and think in ways they never would as unbelievers. This is true regardless of the believer’s age! The famous Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians chapter 5 is not limited to adults. Kids who have truly believed will start to demonstrate, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Christian kids may exhibit this fruit by taking swear words out of their speech, serving their next-door neighbors, or kindly confronting sin in another young believer’s life. When you see kids doing these things, do they have a supernatural joy or an attitude of obligation?
The fourth way to gauge where a kid is spiritually is to look for conviction of sin. You can tell that a kid is truly convicted of their sin when they confess to sinning in secret. There are times when kids say they’re sorry just to make you happy. Or they’ll do good things because of their own pride.
However, a Christian kid will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice gently and firmly confront their sin. The result will be a sincere confession to God and others who were hurt, as well as repentance, a turning away from that sin and choosing what’s right instead. Do you see this fruit in a kid’s life? Remember that it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to speak to them in ways that people can’t.
Finally, remind kids of the gospel frequently. If kids misunderstand what being a Christian means, then God has opened the door for you to share the gospel with them. It’s never a bad thing to share the Gospel—for evangelism or growth! Even people who have believed in Jesus for years still need to remember the Gospel. Share how the Gospel continues to help you to grow. Remember to ask them open-ended questions.
Engaging kids in conversation will help them understand and remember that Christianity is based on what Jesus has done and our faith in Him. You may want to use the Wordless Book, the Romans Road, or another evangelistic tool to share the gospel with them. CEF Press.com has some fun resources you can use to share the Gospel with kids.
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