We are always very careful when we counsel with children at Trinity. Most children who are raised around the church and things of God, have an understanding of “church behavior” and will be quick to raise their hand, pray a prayer, get baptized or do whatever else they feel is needed to show “they love Jesus” and to “go to heaven.” Sometimes it can be difficult to ascertain true conversion versus a child that simply knows what is expected in church life.
So, how is a child saved? The simple answer is the same way an adult is saved. They must believe they are sinners, that Christ took the wrath of God towards sin on the cross when He died and rose again. They must be willing to turn from their sin and desire for Christ to be the Lord (or boss/ruler) of their life; this is the command of Scripture for a 5 year old, a 55 year old or 105 year old. However, the difficulty many parents have is discerning if a child is genuinely converted rather than allowing them to “go through the motions.” What are some fruits that as parents we should look for, that display conversion in a 9 year old? There are times that even well-meaning parents who desperately want their child to come to Christ, can rush things or just rush through some prayer that will cause confusion for that child later in their life.
Several years ago I came across a blog that addressed this issue. I found it very helpful in counseling families with younger children who seem to have responded to the Gospel. So, here is the blog http://practicalshepherding.com/2012/01/30/how-do-you-discern-the-conversion-of-a-child/ but below you will find the main point. I hope this helps you as it has helped me.
1) A growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.
2) A heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.
3) An increased kindness and selflessness towards siblings.
4) A greater awareness and distaste for sin.
5) A noticeable desire to obey parents.
In my experience as both a parent and a pastor, I have found that age is not the most important gauge to determine true conversion, but to genuinely look for these evidences in an age appropriate manner. For example, we need to know that a child has a clear understanding of the gospel. However, that will be articulated by a 10 year old differently than it should a 16 year old. A desire to obey parents and a selfless spirit towards siblings will also show up differently in a 10 year old than they will in a 16 year old.
Words can’t tell you how grateful I am for Pastor, Jeff Summers and our people who serve our children at Trinity…..they take great care in the way they handle the gospel with these precious kids.