Wow, that’s a long title. I think it’s a record for me.
So yesterday I started this series by posting about how many kids mix up God with God the Father which may seem like I’m getting picky, but it does create confusion around the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit with God the Father. Today’s closely ties into this concept of “trinity” confusion.
When I was four years old, I asked Jesus into my heart. I really did. The funny thing is that when I was young, I literally pictured my heart having a little door on it and inside was a little bench that Jesus could sit on. I eventually came to understand that Jesus didn’t really live in my heart just like I came to understand that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. However, for many years I continued to tell children how they could invite Jesus into their hearts. Habits die hard, don’t they?
Why do we tell children to invite Jesus into their hearts when Jesus doesn’t come to live in their hearts? Kids are so incredibly literal. When explaining this to kids, they have a very hard time seeing beyond the picture of Jesus literally living in their heart. If kids really are so literal, why can’t we be a little more straight forward with kids? They’re not stupid. I just think that we fail to clearly explain what is happening. Maybe we’re too quick just to “get kids saved” that we neglect to give them the full picture of what surrendering their lives to Christ really means.
So, let’s review real quick?
- Where is God the Father? In heaven, right?
- Where is Jesus the son? In heave too, at the father’s right hand.
- Where’s the Holy Spirit? That’s right, the Holy Spirit is with us. When Jesus left, he promised the Holy Spirit would come.
So, I was made to have a relationship with God, but my sin keeps me from him. However, if I recognize my sinfulness and need for saving and believe that Jesus provides a way to have a relationship with God and I let Jesus be in charge of my life and let him guide me from this time forward, I can be restored in relationship with God. As a result, the Holy Spirit comes to live in me, comfort me, guide me and encourage me. Isn’t that the gist of it?
Sure, it takes a little longer to set all of that up and it’s not as easy to say as just inviting Jesus into my heart. I don’t think we should give kids false information just because we think they’ll understand it better. It’s the most important decision they’ll make in their entire lives. Although I don’t expect every kid to fully understand every implication of following Christ (I’m 33 and I haven’t gotten there yet) I do think that every child can see a clear picture and make a personal decision.
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Another spot on discussion. I have REALLY struggled with this issue in my teaching in the last year. I’m still working on how best to teach it.
Great thoughts Kenny. Risking a bit of self-promotion, I’ve written some on this concept here:
.-= Jared Kennedy´s last blog ..The Manliness of Childrenâ€™s Ministry =-.
Thanks for being bold enough to speak to this…dare I say it???…”heresy” of communication in modern Children’s Ministry. Through many conversations and much training, I have come close to eliminating faulty gospel presentations in my ministry. However, it will be an ongoing battle!
Like Jared, I must self-promote a bit. I have written a short article on this subject that speaks to the theological and practical implications behind this issue. You can read it here:
Please feel free to pass it out to families in your churches so that parents can be equipped with appropriate ways to share the gospel with their kids!
.-= Andy Johnson´s last blog ..Christian Video Magazine =-.
Thanks for the resources Jared and Andy. I don’t consider it self-promotion, you’re sharing resources you’ve developed. If you’ve got something to share, then share away!
.-= Kenny´s last blog ..The Google Empire =-.
I’ve tried to eliminate figurative language and certainly no longer talk about ‘inviting Jesus into your heart’ at least for little ones but little ones think in pictures and without thoughts they can picture it won’t mean a lot too them.
But sometimes we forget it’s not so much about choosing words for one event, but joining the child on their spiritual journey, showing and chatting in the midst of life, where context, attitude and actions are at least as important as thinking and words. Being with them, teaching them to love God and others and see what that looks like in practice.
When they’re older and get the idea of love hearts and giving their heart to another person, wanting to please them no matter what, the idea of ‘giving your heart to Jesus is very meaningful.’