What to say when your child wants to become a Christian…

When a child begins to ask questions about faith, conversion, and what it means to follow Jesus, we hope this guide will equip you for the conversation.

Words Can Be Confusing!

If you have grown up in a church setting, you have probably heard the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” a thousand times. This is a way to talk about the decision a person can make to follow Jesus. Unfortunately, when talking about salvation in this way, the emphasis is often on a one-time prayer a child can pray instead of a deliberate pattern to follow Jesus with everything they’ve got. While we do agree that there is a moment of conversion, we don’t want it to stop there. That is just the beginning of the life Jesus invites us to enjoy!

What A Life of Faith Means:

If a child thinks they are “asking Jesus into their heart” so they can go to heaven, then that’s great! What an exciting moment! However, this is just the beginning. God doesn’t want someone to pray a simple prayer in order to “check the box.” Instead, God longs for us to know Him and follow Him throughout all of life.

What Kids Understand:

  • God is perfect and He created everything. That means God made you! Since God created everything, He is in charge. (Genesis 1:1)
  • People are not in charge. God asks us to trust Him! But we choose to do it our own way. That is called sin. And we do this over, and over, and over again. (Romans 3:23)
  • This means we are in big trouble. We deserve a big consequence—being sent away from God. Being separated from God means we should also be separated from everything that is good. This is really bad news for us. (Romans 6:23)
  • But God wants us to be with Him. God’s love is personal. He knows every person individually and loves us personally. So, He began his rescue plan. He left heaven and came to us. He did this in the form of a person named Jesus. (Matthew 1:23)
  • Jesus showed us how God wants people to live. He showed God’s love to others—the rich, poor, sick, healthy, and everyone in between. But there’s more…
  • God really does want us to be with Him—not separated from Him! Jesus made a way for this to happen. He stood in for us and took our punishment. He died so that we didn’t have to be separated from God and all that is good. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8)
  • But Jesus didn’t stay dead! In fact, he came back to life and invited his followers—and you!—to follow him. When you trust and follow Jesus, he leads you back to the goodness of God—the relationship you were designed to most enjoy! And one day, he is coming back to make everything new and good again!
  • He invites you to trust Him and experience His love for you. 

God Living in You!

The best part is this: When a person chooses to become a Christ-follower, God promises to fill this person with His power by living within him or her! (1 Corinthians 3:16) While we might not see Him or feel Him, He promises to be with us every moment of the day, giving us the power we need to follow Him! The really good news is not that we accept Jesus but that he accepts us and invites us back to him to join in the work of restoring the world which He has made.

There might be a moment when your child “gets it,” or it might be a gradual understanding that is gained in time. There is not a one-size-fits-all conversion experience. No matter what your child’s experience looks like, we encourage you to invite your child to follow you as you follow Christ.

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God’s Plans Never Fail {Unit 3}

Welcome to 2017! We’re starting off the new year by teaching kids that God has a perfect plan to save his creation. Take a look at what we’ll be learning this month!

Big Picture Question: What can stop God’s plan? Nothing can stop God’s perfect plan.

Key Passage: “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” (Genesis 26:24)

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The Stolen Blessing Genesis 25:27-34; 27:1-45 | Jacob stole Esau’s blessing.

God told Rebekah while she was pregnant that her older son (Esau) would serve her younger son (Jacob). This was unheard of! Typically, upon the death of his father, the older brother would receive for his birthright twice as much property and goods as the younger. But Esau gave it to Jacob for a hot bowl of stew. Later, Jacob wore his brother’s clothes and lied to his father to receive a special blessing Isaac meant to bestow on Esau, which made Jacob master over Esau—just as God had said. This story points forward to Jesus—Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15), and He deserves all the privileges afforded to Him. But when Jesus hung on the cross, He gave up His blessing for us. Jesus took the punishment we deserve so that the Father would give us the blessing Jesus deserves.

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Jacob’s New Name  Genesis 32–33 | God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, the name of God’s covenant people.

After Jacob ran away from Esau, he lived with his uncle Laban for many years. God kept His promise to bless Jacob with a large family and riches, but now God said it was time for Jacob to return home. Jacob was uncertain because the last time he had seen Esau, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. So Jacob prepared for the meeting with Esau; he strategically divided his family into separate groups and sent gifts ahead of them to appease Esau. That night, Jacob anxiously awaited word from Esau. He then encountered the Lord and wrestled with him. Jacob didn’t win by strength, but by confessing his dependence on God’s blessing. Jacob knew his own strength wasn’t enough; he held onto God and would not let go. God graciously blessed Jacob and gave him a new name, Israel. From Jacob’s descendants—from the nation of Israel—God would bring into the world His Son, Jesus.

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Joseph Sent to Egypt • Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1–41:57 | God used Joseph’s suffering for good.

When Jacob grew up, he had 12 sons, but his favorite son was Joseph. Jacob didn’t hide his favoritism and Joseph’s brothers were jealous. When Joseph told his brothers about the dream he had that they would one day bow down to him, they hated him so much they threw him into a pit with the intent to kill him. Then they figured they’d make a profit by selling him to people taking slaves to Egypt, where he was sold into Potiphar’s house. But God was with him—even when Potiphar’s wife had Joseph thrown into prison for something he didn’t do. God had a great plan that included raising Joseph into a position of power in Egypt. Remind your kids that nothing could stop God’s perfect plan to send Jesus through the family of Israel.

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Joseph’s Dreams Came True • Genesis 42:1–46:34; 50:15-21 | God sent Joseph to Egypt to establish a remnant.

After Joseph became second-in-command of Egypt, the seven years of plenty had passed and the people were two years into a time of famine. Even Jacob’s family in Canaan needed food, so ten of Jacob’s sons went to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph was in charge of distributing the food and he recognized his brothers immediately, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph put his brothers through a series of tests, accusing them of being spies and ordering them to return with their youngest brother, Benjamin. Finally, he revealed his identity, and they were terrified. Joseph was in position to exact revenge, but instead Joseph showed them grace. Joseph explained that even though his brothers intended harm, God intended his good. Joseph invited his family to come to Egypt where they could thrive—and they did! God kept His promise, and through the nation of Israel, He worked out His plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

What a wise and good God we have! For more about Sunday morning lessons and at-home conversations, check out the Big Picture Cards for Families and other resources from The Gospel Project Blog. Happy New Year!

New Prayer for a New Year

Happy New Year! During this time of New Year’s Resolutions, many are beginning gym memberships and reading plans, or setting new budgets for money and time. Maybe this year you’re thinking about a new approach to prayer. Maybe you’re thinking about new approaches to your kiddos.

We found this nifty tool to help you form your own new approach to praying for your kids. This guide to praying for children from Elisa Pulliam’s blog, More To Be, invites you to:

  • Create a routine and timeline for prayer that works for you—including establishing accountability and celebration as you achieve your goal.
  • Answer specific questions about your child as an individual, so you can discern how to prayer uniquely for him or her.
  • Pray in response to Scripture, and also pray the very words of Scripture, for you and your kids—acknowledging God’s promises with both raw authenticity and hope.

This four-page guide is targeted toward moms, but can certainly be used by fathers as well. It even includes a little cutout of prayer prompts—specific ideas of ways to pray for your kids. This is conveniently in the shape of a bookmark, so you can be reminded to pray for your kids whenever you open whatever book you are currently exploring.

We’re excited to begin this new year with you, and look forward to the ways prayer will change us and our children as we move toward the Father in humility and trust. Happy 2017!

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