When does someone become a Christian?
Is someone a Christian before the world was even made, since God knows who will go to heaven and who will go to hell in advance anyways?
Is someone a Christian when they are born because they are born into a believing covenant family in which everyone is saved by God?
Is someone a Christian when God chooses them to be in His family for all eternity?
Is someone a Christian when they make a personal decision to give their sin to Jesus and receive his forgiveness as their savior?
This question helps answer a lot of other questions when it comes to parenting. As a parent, grandparent, or caregiver, it is fairly clear when we see the child have a heart for God and want to learn about Jesus and grow as a Christian. In such circumstances, we instruct and encourage the child to grow in a personal relationship with God by such things as Bible reading, prayer, worshipping God, and serving others.
But, what do we do when we do not know if the child is a Christian? Maybe they are too young to tell us what they think about God? Maybe they echo things they have heard at home and church, but we wonder if they really believe in God personally? Or, maybe they say they are a believer but we are not seeing life change in their character that indicates that they are in fact not only our child but also God’s child?
These are difficult needles to thread. On one hand, a believing parent (or grandparent or caregiver) wants to encourage the child to turn from sin, trust in Jesus, and live as a Bible believing Christian. On the other hand, we do not want to give the false impression to a child that they are a Christian just because they have a Christian family, attend a Christian church, or study at a Christian school.
While teaching a series called Parenting on Point at our church, Grace and I took questions from church members and did our best to provide impromptu answers. One of the questions we received was, “Should Christian parents treat their little kids like Christians or not? This is a very common question that parents and grandparents often wrestle with. My wife and I did our best to provide some practical and biblical advice that we hope is helpful in this video.
Lastly, if you have a question I might be able to answer in a future Ask Pastor Mark video clip, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your question is chosen, we hope to be helpful to you and the many other people who are likely wrestling with the same question that you are.