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How Little is Too Little for Kids to Accept Jesus as Their Savior?

Take a look at this well known verse in Luke 18. It's a verse that we use to show how much Jesus loves children and wants them to come to Him.

"But Jesus called the children to Him and said, 'Let the LITTLE children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'"

Notice Jesus uses the word "Little" when describing the children.

This leads to the question, "How little is too little for kids to accept Jesus as their Savior?"

At what age is a child ready to enter a relationship with Jesus?

What does a child need to know and understand to follow Jesus?

What is the age of accountability and when do kids cross that line?

Here are few thoughts about little children coming to Jesus.

There is not a specific age for a child to accept Jesus as his or her Savior. The age of accountability happens when a child understands they have sinned and need a Savior. The age of accountability is different for each child. For some, it may be 8-years-old. For others, it may be 10-years-old. For others it may be 6-years-old.

A key factor is mentioned in the previous paragraph. A child must understand that they have sinned and owe a debt for that sin. If you ask a child if he or she has sinned and they say "no," then they are not ready to accept Jesus as their Savior. A child must understand that they are in need of a Savior. You can't get "saved" if you don't understand that you have sinned and need a Savior.

Children must also be old enough to understand what Jesus did to pay for their sins. They must understand that Jesus died, was buried and rose again for their sins.

As I mentioned above, there is not a specific age of accountability. But I will say this. At the age of 7-8 years old, children begin to understand abstract thinking and not just a concrete understanding. In other words, if you tell a child who is 5 years old that Jesus is the bridge back to God, the child will think it is a literal bridge.

But if you tell this to a 8-year-old, the child understands that this is an illustration of Jesus being the way back to God.

Another key factor is seeing if the child shares that they NEED to make the decision versus just WANTING to make the decision. There is a difference between needing vs. wanting.

Here's an example. A child says, "I want to be saved, baptized etc. because my friend did that and it looks fun." They are not ready.

In contrast, a child that communicates that this is a decision they know they NEED to make is probably ready.

For the first 20 years of my ministry, I would share the Gospel with children in a large group format and then lead them in a group prayer to accept Jesus as their Savior. But I wondered if the children were really understanding the decision they were making?

So I made a shift. When kids responded to the Gospel, I paired them up with a volunteer who counseled them one-on-one to make sure they understood what they were doing.

But there was still one missing piece. As I shared with parents that their child had invited Jesus into their life, I could see the parents were excited, but they also wished they could have been there when it happened.

So I made a final shift. Instead of praying the salvation prayer with kids who raised their hand, I invited them to a class with their parents. In the class, we clearly shared the Gospel and made sure kids and their parents understood what it means to follow Jesus. And something amazing happened, I began to see kids and parents step across the line of faith at the end of the class.

I have made this class available to other churches and hundreds now use this approach. At this link, you can see more about the class and how to implement it in your ministry.

How little is too little?

How old is old enough?

Let me say a final thing as you ponder these questions/

Think about this...

God has not called you to hold kids back from accepting Jesus.

God has also not called you to push kids into a decision they are not ready to make yet.

What God has called us to do is to walk alongside children. Have faith conversations with them.

The Holy Spirit will then draw kids to a genuine salvation decision when the time is right.

What an awesome privilege we have to share the Gospel with kids and families. Share it faithfully and watch what God does.

p.s. Have you signed up yet for my live webinar that is coming March 30? Here is more information at this link. Join churches from across the U.S. and several other countries for this time of learning and growth.


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