Questions for Discerning a Child’s Profession of Faith

Children are amazing sponges and excellent mimics. They have the God-given ability to soak up and recall an enormous amount of information. They also are, to a lesser or greater extent, attentive observers who will act out and imitate our words, demeanor, and actions.

This provides Christian parents and teachers with a great opportunity, challenge, and caution when it comes to nurturing our children and students toward genuine faith in Christ. During their young years, we should take the opportunity to pour biblical truth into their lives — acquainting them with the Scriptures which are able to make them wise for salvation in Christ (2 Tim. 3:15). We must gently challenge and implore them to respond to these truths with heart-felt trust and devotion. But we must also be discerning in how they respond: are they simply affirming truths or embracing Christ as Savior and Lord? Are they simply mimicking Christian responses that they have seen and heard? Are they simply trying to please their parents and teachers? Therein lies the caution.

One thing that is sure and unshakable: God is ultimate in a child’s salvation. His sovereign grace will have the final say, not our efforts nor a child’s immature mind and heart. But we can better serve our children and students by applying wise discernment when we share the gospel with them.

In his excellent book, The Faith of a Child: A Step-By-Step Guide to Salvation for Your Child, pastor Art Murphy gives some questions for helping us discern a child’s profession of faith. Here are a few of them,

Can the child explain in his or her own words the basics of becoming a Christian? When explaining how one becomes a Christian, does the child use “good works” answers such as “going to church, reading the Bible, getting baptized, praying, being good,” etc.? Or do his answers mention his need for forgiveness?

Does the child have an affection for Jesus or a strong desire to be close to Him? Does he show a passion to follow Jesus or just a basic knowledge of the facts about Him?

Does the child demonstrate a personal need or desire to repent of his sin? Is the child ashamed of the sin in his life? Knowing what sin is, is not the same as being ashamed of sin. If a child is not repentant but goes ahead and makes a decision to become a Christian, then his decision is premature and incomplete.

Listen to how he talks about salvation. Is there an urgency on his part? Does he have a personal desire to talk about salvation?

Does the child demonstrate a personal desire to make this commitment with his life, or is he just being agreeable with those around him who want him to become a Christian?

Is this a way of getting some undivided attention or public recognition?

What influenced him most to make this choice?

Has his decision come after realizing how much he needs and wants Jesus in his life? (pp. 73-78)

Again, our child’s or student’s ability to fully communicate or articulate conversion is not ultimate in salvation — God is. But these questions are helpful reminders for parents and teachers to pray for and apply great wisdom when our children and students express a desire to repent and believe the good news of the gospel.

Parents, we’ve developed Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, a concise, helpful booklet to use with your children. It includes a 10-week family devotional to help you explain the Gospel to your children, and explores the following topics: preparing the hearts of children to hear the Gospel, discerning stages of spiritual growth, communicating the essential truths of the Gospel, and presenting the Gospel in an accurate and child-friendly manner.

Teachers and small group leaders, please see “Sharing the Gospel With Children,” a free, two-page guide for use with your students.

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Truth78.

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