When a child expresses his or her faith in Jesus Christ, there will be signs of a new spiritual life that will need careful cultivation. Giving one’s allegiance to Christ forever is a big step. Young people can make such a step, but they will need their parents’ help.
The church stands ready to assist, providing literature and counsel. However, the Bible makes it clear that children have been committed to their parents. How discouraging it is when the church alone does the teaching! Children who are merely church-taught and not home-taught almost invariable fall away.
A child must have a Christian home. We are asking you to take the initiative and the responsibility before God to prepare your child— to reach your child in the way of God.
This is often asked. It really is not simply a matter of age. Often it is a matter of the will. Is your child ready and willing to follow Christ? Are you, the parent, willing to take your God-given responsibility?
If the child does not desire— or is not permitted— to share in the simple schedule of weekly services, then this ought to be considered before applying for church membership. Outside the Lord’s Day itself, the schedule might include a midweek service of prayer, fellowship, and testimony time. Young people need to hear from other Christians so that they can be well-rounded and instructed. Any hesitation on attendance at services should be settled first.
Nothing strikes deeper— for good or bad— into a youngster’s heart than the everyday example of the parent. Next, direct and daily instruction using any literature provided by the church will be invaluable. In addition, surrounding the child with the atmosphere of Christian home worship will keep him or her on the way. Daily family devotions need not be long and perhaps can be done just after supper or at some convenient, regular time. Brief, earnest prayers and a short passage from a book of the Bible will get you under way.
Parents who have children seeking to live Christian lives must beware of discouraging them. When they fail and sin and require rebuke and punishment, it ought to be done in a proper manner. Repeated remarks such as, “You don’t act like a Christian!” are apt to be fatally discouraging. It is true that they need to be reminded that God sees all and that their life may be disappointing him. However, this ought never be done in the heat of the moment but later— perhaps after appropriate punishment has been administered. Lovingly and prayerfully encourage them to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and trust the Spirit to help them in the future.
It would be an excellent thing to help them establish their own devotional life of private prayer and Bible reading.
No doubt the subject of their baptism will come up. As we have already pointed out, if they are encouraged to lead a regular church life, then this ought to be considered soon. As they apply, you can help them prepare by following through on the matters discussed above. In addition, see that they are acquainted with at least one or two of the elders or deacons and recognize some of the other officers. Make sure, too, that the pastor or shepherd knows your child by name.
Finally, I urge you to keep this sheet for repeated review and checkup in the future. (A lot of ground is covered here!) Perhaps fold it and place it in your Bible.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22: 6).