Evangelizing Children

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darinhouston
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Evangelizing Children

Post by darinhouston » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:00 am

Am very curious of your thoughts or personal stories of evangelizing/baptizing children. My kids are 4 and 7. We read the bible regularly to them, pray regularly with them, immerse them in God's working in our lives, they attend a part-time Christian school, are part-time home-schooled, etc. I feel relatively confident I could "train" them along the way into a "profession" with some directed diligence and my wife has a highly recommended book for the purpose we're considering working through with them. However, I find myself uncomfortable with the issue and want desperately to avoid a false profession or "get them baptized" for my assurance and have them only really find/submit to the Lord later (or never). However, I also don't want to just wait it out and fail in my central obligation. The book we're considering is "Leading Little Ones to God" by Schoolland. It seems really well done, but conversion just doesn't strike me as something we can just "teach them to learn" like we would teach them greek or to come to believe in our worldview through our History of the World lessons.

Considering the uncertainty with the so-called age of accountability, something could happen to them on any given day and my wife and I are beginning to feel some urgency in the matter.

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KyleB
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by KyleB » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:09 am

My children are 5, 3, and 0.58. I have many of the same concerns as you, I'm curious to see what answers you receive. As far as the age of accountability thing goes though, I can hardly think that God would nail a child on lack of baptism if they should happen to die at a young age (even if past "accountability" age). The main reason being that they hardly have the option open to them to go and get baptized without their parents' assistance, so they aren't responsible for taking action in the same way as an adult. And, if God was placing it on their heart strongly that they needed to be baptized, then I think you'd be hearing it from them constantly pestering you to get them baptized, and you wouldn't be wondering where their heart was at in that case.

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Homer
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by Homer » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:02 am

I read of a pastor who was asked to talk to a young boy (7?) who wanted to be baptized like his friends. The pastor sat down with the boy to discuss baptism and what it meant. The boy wasn't very attentive and after a few minutes blurted out "can I go play now"?

Many of those who aren't pedobaptists are certainly moving in that direction. Some years back I read of research done regarding when Mennonites had historically baptized their children and the age had steadily dropped over the years (200 years or so); it had once been, as I recall, about 18 - 20 years of age. Sounded like they had once applied the age of accountability as God had done to Israel in the desert.

We might question why we are trying to save those who aren't lost.

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darinhouston
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by darinhouston » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:26 pm

I now have the opposite challenge. My son is still a work in progress and I'm taking it slow and easy with him. It's hard to know what's going on in his head sometimes, how much is simply being processed and assimilated or rather being cast aside or passing through as he thinks about basketball and Mario Bros. Though he is very receptive to our regular and ongoing discussions in this area, ranging from the casual to the intentional he is not particularly interactive or inquisitive in this area (though he has a recurring question about why God is called God -- I thought I had given him a good answer, but clearly I have not).

Anyway, now my 4 year old daughter (who couldn't be any more different in almost every way) has exactly the opposite response, and barely a thought goes through her head unexpressed. She is almost a parrot as to what she is taught at pre-school (at church) and in church about what is expected and who Jesus is and the like, but she's like this about every subject. They were learning about John the Baptist (which incidentally was our teaching at bedtime this past week), and she told my wife last night that she wanted to be baptized -- on further inquiry, she said because she wanted to follow Jesus. Do I rejoice or call out in frustration? She told her she was afraid Daddy wouldn't let her and would tell her she's too young. Clearly, she "understands" at a fairly genuine level, but how could it be a meaningful memorial through her life as a believer's baptism when she won't remember anything that happened at 4? Besides, I am fairly certain that this is precisely the presentation that she received in her "class." Fortunately, my wise wife told her we'd talk to Daddy but she can never be too young to follow Jesus whether she was baptized or not.

So, if I do let her do it, her bubba will see her and no doubt will not want to see her do something like that he hadn't done, and might ask to do it for the wrong reasons.

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morbo3000
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by morbo3000 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:31 pm

Homer wrote:We might question why we are trying to save those who aren't lost.
You mention the Mennonites. [btw... I consider myself a Charismatic Anabaptist] They were part of a reformation movement called the Anabaptists. In many ways, they were the first evangelicals. They believed that salvation is by profession of faith in Jesus, which is an adult decision. They refused to baptize their infants, and baptized each other. Thus the word Anabaptist.. meaning re-baptizer (though they would say that their infant baptism was no baptism..) The Catholic church, as well as Luther believed that this was heresy, but also left the infant susceptible to damnation because they connected salvation to baptism.

From the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online article on Original Sin
http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O755.html

The first problem deals of course also with infant baptism as considered necessary by the Catholic Church to save these infants from hell. On this point all Anabaptists were unanimous. Although sin, handed down through the generations through the Adamic nature, inescapably leads to temporal or physical death ("The wages of sin is death"—an oft-quoted verse in Anabaptist tracts) of both children and adults, it does not mean condemnation to eternal death or hell, since Christ has died for all mankind (no predestination!) and thus reconciled God and man. Thus He died also for the innocent children. In this regard they were sure of God's bountiful grace made efficacious through Christ's supreme sacrifice. Whether we read Riedemann or Marpeck or Menno Simons or the Hessian Confession of 1578, there is no difference on this point: infant baptism as a saving sacrament has no justification in evangelical faith. Indeed to claim that unbaptized children should be eternally lost was in their eyes a climax of blasphemy and an expression of lack of faith.

There is more there.. a simple search for "children" on the page will bring up more.

I feel the same way about a profession of faith at an early age. I don't believe a child would be condemned for lack of a profession, because as the calvinists would say.. that makes the profession a work.

My beliefs about salvation as a little more nuanced than evangelicalism. I believe a relationship with God [which is really what salvation is] comes from the following.

a). Conviction that self-determination is inadequate for life and eternity. I can't do it. If I think I can, then I have misplaced pride, and no need of God.
b). Belief that God is the answer.
c). Make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to God.
d). Recognize that an immoral life is destructive to ourselves, to others and to our relationship with God. Convicted to seek to live a holy life, knowing that it is an end in itself.. not a works toward salvation.
e). Not deny Jesus. With increased awareness of Jesus, not rejecting him.
f). Following Jesus.

The nuance there is I believe that if a person has not been exposed to Jesus, but a-d are present, a person is not condemned. Because that is [more or less] the content of the gospel. Jesus did that work. If a person is ignorant to that work, it has been no-less worked. However, if a person has been exposed to more and more of [an authentic] presentation of the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but rejects him, they would be condemned. [point e.]

Now.. to children. We have no idea how long it might take for one of our children to fully grasp the work of Jesus and determine to follow him. But I believe we have an assurance that God desires that everyone would be saved, and he is a good God. And to raise your children so that they do not have pride in themselves, but instead rely on God. They will "fall into" a relationship with Jesus when the time comes.
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darinhouston
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by darinhouston » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:57 pm

Yes, but the practical challenge remains. I see no magic in the baptistic act but I want to handle this sacred sacrament (efficacious or not) in as wise and sober-minded manner possible to give them the gift of a meaningful response to the saving grace of Christ at the right time as I would hope to give them in marriage one day.

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morbo3000
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by morbo3000 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:16 pm

darinhouston wrote:I want to handle this sacred sacrament (efficacious or not) in as wise and sober-minded manner possible to give them the gift of a meaningful response to the saving grace of Christ at the right time as I would hope to give them in marriage one day.
Here are my ideas.
1. Take them to baptisms. People knew that John the Baptist was baptizing because they were there. And they learned what it meant because they were hearing the meaning while the baptisms themselves were going on. Even the Pharisees. And even moreso, they learned about Jesus while watching John the Baptist baptize him.
2. Listen or watch evangelists. Louis Giglio, and Greg Laurie are favorites.
3. Take them to serve at a soup kitchen or the food bank.
When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
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darinhouston
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:39 am

morbo3000 wrote:
darinhouston wrote:I want to handle this sacred sacrament (efficacious or not) in as wise and sober-minded manner possible to give them the gift of a meaningful response to the saving grace of Christ at the right time as I would hope to give them in marriage one day.
Here are my ideas.
1. Take them to baptisms. People knew that John the Baptist was baptizing because they were there. And they learned what it meant because they were hearing the meaning while the baptisms themselves were going on. Even the Pharisees. And even moreso, they learned about Jesus while watching John the Baptist baptize him.
2. Listen or watch evangelists. Louis Giglio, and Greg Laurie are favorites.
3. Take them to serve at a soup kitchen or the food bank.
Thanks -- these are good recommendations for folks trying to learn how to introduce the gospel to children. I don't think that's a problem for my children. I'm curious about the "next" step and the wisdom of others in handling those issues of discernment as a parent as their faith emerges.

ShelleyG
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by ShelleyG » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:49 pm

Darin,
I understand your sense of urgency. As our children begin to understand what it means to follow Christ we want to do everything in our power to make sure they do indeed make that choice. I used the book "Leading Little Ones to God" with my children. It's a great book and gives wonderful information, but I never had one of my children ask to "be saved" after reading through it with them. They did, however, ask good questions and I felt that they truly did desire to follow Jesus.

Having grown up in the same church as me, you know that we were big on the sinner's prayer. I don't want to give my children the false assurance that they can simply pray a prayer and be okay. It would be better, in my opinion, when they are young to make no commitment at all than to be given false assurance of salvation. I dealt with that issue in my own life. My youngest prayed a sinner's prayer when she was five and has no recollection of it. I used to worry about my children all the time because they hadn't made any kind of formal commitment. But then I realized that Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these and all it takes is the faith of a child. I know my children have faith and want to follow and serve Jesus. All have been baptized except my youngest who is almost ten. I want to wait until she really feels the spirit leading her in that direction. I feel that then I will truly know she has committed herself to Christ.

In the meantime, I will keep doing what I've been doing: daily devotions, reading through the gospels, and talking talking talking about Jesus as much as possible, always trying to make Him a daily part of our lives. It sounds like you're doing the same things and I would say to keep it up. We can lead our children to the cross, but in the end they have to make the final decision. Don't be anxious, pray for them daily, and place them in God's hands.

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darinhouston
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Re: Evangelizing Children

Post by darinhouston » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:34 pm

Praise God -- tonight at bedtime, and quite out of the blue (after praying not to be afraid of ghosts) my son (who rarely asks anything of substance except how we might build stuff in minecraft or with legos) spent almost an hour asking me probing and detailed questions about sin, salvation, angels, the nature of God, ghosts, Holy Spirit, death on the cross, how the thief believed, isn't there another way from belief and baptism, and on and on ... until he said he wanted that and we prayed and he cried. Funny how things work out -- I was prepared to have this conversation with my daughter, but for some reason thought it'd be a while with him. What a special time it was.

Now.... (after I get him baptized) I can turn to you all for thoughts about next steps and spiritual growth and "keeping it real." Prayers appreciated!

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