One of the most challenging and humbling things about leading and discipling the next generation is discerning and affirming saving faith in our kids. One of the most precious and important things for a parent is praying, sharing, and leading our kids to understand the gospel, repent of their sin, and place their faith in Christ.
How do you know if your child understands the gospel? At what point can you be assured that they are ready to be baptized? While there aren’t clear answers to either of these questions, one of the most vital and crucial ways that we as a church can partner with parents is by help them to prepare for these conversations. While salvation belongs to the Lord (Psalm 3:8), it is the duty of loving parents and faithful churches to ensure that we are taking seriously the faith of the next generation.
Preparation for Baptism
A lot of the work involved in preparing your kids for a salvation response and entering the baptismal waters begins years ahead of time. You could begin by praying regularly that your kids would repent, trust, and follow Jesus. It’s easy to just assume that they will because they are growing up in a “Christian” household. And while you want to create and set the expectation that the people in your house do and will follow Jesus, you never want to make presumptuous assumptions about your child’s faith simply because they are growing up in your house. Another great way to prepare for these conversations is regularly memorizing Scripture and reading the Bible with them. Start with foundational verses like: : John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9, Matthew 28:19-20, Colossians 2:12-13, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:1-4 just to name a few. As you read or memorize these verses, they will create regular opportunities for gospel conversations.
Lastly, you can regularly share the gospel with them. Sometimes this may simply be in a prayer during family worship, but I want to ensure my kids hear of the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection often. All of these strategies help ensure that spiritual conversations about the gospel and baptism are not one time conversations but are routine and regular.
Assessing Readiness and Avoiding Common Pitfalls
So how can I know that my child is ready for baptism? A few areas to gauge and assess their readiness: Clarity with Knowledge, Urgency for Action, Genuineness of Faith, and Evidence of Repentance.
Clarity with Knowledge: I remind parents regularly when we meet that professing faith in Christ is more than knowing the right things, but it’s not less. You will see below a list of questions that will help you evaluate how well your child understands the gospel. This should be one of the easiest areas to gauge readiness. Remember that this is not a test! I would encourage you to see these questions as a wonderful opportunity to teach and share the good news with your kids and see how much they really understand.
Urgency for Action: Does your child have a strong desire to be baptized? We want to diligently urge kids to come to Christ without putting unnecessary pressure on them that could hinder our ability to understand their readiness. The key is to create an atmosphere in your home where they are the ones coming to us when they feel moved to take a step of faith. We want our kids to display an urgency for action to come to us and desire to be baptized as a work of the Holy Spirit’s power working in their lives, not as a response to pressure and prompting from us.
Genuineness of Faith: We don’t just desire our kids to know about Jesus, but to believe in Jesus. And it is our responsibility as church and home partner together to distinguish between the two. Your child may be able to say all the right things, but we want to look for more than that. Is there evidence of a desire to know Jesus and walk with him? This will look different in a child and may be hard to discern, which is why time is often our biggest ally.
Evidence of Repentance: One of the clearest ways to observe a genuineness of faith is the evidence of repentance. As stated above, we don’t just want them to be able to say what Christ has done for them, but to be able to witness what Christ has done in them. Does your child show a desire to follow Jesus and obey his commands? This does not mean they will do it perfectly, but when you explain what Jesus demands of them, do you sense a desire to follow? Is there Godly sorrow that leads to repentance when they fail? Another clear marker of genuine faith is when your child comes to you to confess sin because they feel an internal conviction.
Helpful Questions to Gauge Your Kid’s Understanding
- What is the gospel?
- What is sin?
- What happens in your heart when you sin?
- Who has sinned?
- What is the punishment of sin?
- How does God feel when you sin?
- How do you feel when you sin?
- How do you know that you are a sinner?
- Who is Jesus? Describe some of the essential attributes and aspects of his character and nature.
- Why did Jesus come to earth?
- What did Jesus do to save you from your sins?
- Why do you believe this?
- How do you go to heaven?
- What does it mean to be a child of God?
- How do you become a child of God?
- Do you want to follow Jesus for the rest of your life?
- What is the next step after we believe in Jesus?
- How are we baptized?
- Why do you want to be baptized?
- What happens if you aren’t baptized?
- What do you do after being baptized?
As I remind parents often, baptism is the starting line to following Christ and not the finish line to making sure our kids are saved.
If you believe your child is ready to be baptized or would love to talk more about determining the appropriate next step in their spiritual journey then please email [email protected] to connect or you can always go here and see the next time that we are planning to hold baptisms as a church. Remember, regardless of whether the appropriate next step is baptism in your child’s journey, it should always be celebrated that they are taking steps towards understanding and following Jesus!