Helping Children Understand the Gospel

At FBC we regularly use and handout the resource, Helping Children Understand the Gospel produced by Sally Michael.  Below you will find notes taken from Section 2 of this resource and supplemental application questions.

The contents of these worksheets are based on Art Murphy’s The Faith of a Child and Children Desiring God’s Helping Children to Understand the Gospel.

Helping Children to Understand the Gospel

Children mature in their knowledge of God differently according to the conditions of their hearts, their spiritual interests, and their maturity.  We must learn to recognize the stages of growth so we can tend to their hearts faithfully.

The Discovering Stage

Age: birth to five years
Key Terms: information gathering, positive feelings, foundation building, sensory motor experiences.
Our Role: cultivator–preparing the soil for seeds that will be planted later

Make a list of what you consider to be your child’s greatest needs.

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

Do you think of your child as a sinner in need of a Savior?

What are some ways you can prepare your child’s heart for the gospel?

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

The Discerning Stage

Age: four to eight years
Key Terms: gathering facts, exploring the Bible, curiosity, asking questions
Our Role: Planter– planting seeds through teaching, modeling, observing, answering

Is your child asking questions about God and the Bible?

Make a list of ways you can increase Bible intake in the lives of your children at home?

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

Is your child beginning to recognize the difference between right and wrong?  Are they showing signs of conviction related to their sin?

Are you using the “laws” of your home as a means of directing your children to the gospel?  Make a list of ways you can directly and graciously confront your children with their sin.

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

What type of Bible reading/study will you commit to, so that you can better answer your child’s questions (this is also being a good model)?

The Deciding Stage

Age: Seven to twelve
Key terms: conviction, struggle, faith, transformation
Our Role: caretaker– providing food for the new plant that it may grow

At this stage a child should understand that the gospel has personal implications.  A battle for control is taking place.  Your child is deciding whether he or she will relinquish control to God or fight to maintain it for themselves.

What types of spiritual food will you serve your children at this crucial stage (Remember that all your parenting efforts should be aimed at true repentance and true conversion)?

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

Make a list of things you can do to encourage your children to submit their lives to Christ and to trust in God.

  1.  ____________________________________________________________________
  2.  ____________________________________________________________________
  3.  ____________________________________________________________________

The Discipling Stage

Age: ten years and up
Key Terms: establishing habits, consistency, maturity, growing deeper, doctrine
Our Role: Pruner–shaping, encouraging, the growing plant

This stage follows true conversion and is a period of growth in faith that never ends in this life.

In The Child’s Book on Repentance, Thomas Gallaudet examines the difference between worldly sorrow and true repentance…

“If the only sorrow which you feel for having done what God forbids you to do, or for not having done what he commands you to do, is because you fear the punishment which he has threatened against those who break his laws, then you have no true repentance for your sins.”

“True repentance is something more than a strong resolution or purpose that you will leave off sinning, and begin to love and obey God.  Such a resolution will be of no use unless it proceeds from a heart-felt sorrow for your sins, as committed against a wise, holy, just and good God.  It will be of no use, unless you feel also a sincere reliance on Jesus Christ as your only Savior.  It will be of no use if it is made in your own strength.”

Gallaudet describes the truly repentant person as feeling…

“He has done wrong in not rendering to God love and obedience.  He feels that he has no excuse to make for not doing it.  He feels that his own sinfulness and self-will have led him to refuse to do it.  He acknowledges the great guilt of his pride and obstinacy of heart and is truly and deeply sorry for it.  His will, subdued and humbled, bows in submission to the will of God; not as if forced to do it, as when a child yields to the will of the parent from the fear of punishment, but freely, fully and cheerfully desires to submit and trusts to Christ to aid him in doing it.”

Discuss with your spouse the excerpts from The Child’s Book on Repentance.

Do you agree with Gallaudet and his definition of repentance?

Have you softened your expectations of what it means to be repentant?

Are you guilty of allowing your children to settle for something less than true repentance?

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