The Jesus Your Kids Want to Know

The Jesus Your Kids Want to Know February 17, 2024

Little boy experiencing joy in a wheat field.
Little boy experiencing joy and freedom. | Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI |


Do you remember the day Jesus made your life different? The day you took ownership of your faith and gave it to Jesus? Maybe for you, that means you took ownership from your parents, the world, or even the church. But, there was a day when Jesus sparked your soul and said you are no longer your own or your parents’ or the world’s, you are mine and you said “Yes!” This is the Jesus your kids want to know.

What Does It Mean to Own Your Faith?

When you become a follower of Christ, you become a part of God’s family, the Church. But, there is a beautiful, personal relationship that comes with it. There is personal accountability in spending time with God, seeking his will, knowing his Word, and following.

You are a member of the Church, but they cannot carry you. They can teach, support, and offer opportunities, but you have to own your faith. 

The same is true of your children. Your children may be a part of a Christian family, but they need to own their faith at some point. And, if you are carrying them for too long, they will not know how to own their faith when the time comes for them to move out, go to college, or even stand up to a crowd at sports or with friends. 

For kids to own their faith, they have to be interested. How do you interest them? Share the TRUE things about Jesus that are relevant to them and their lives. You don’t start with the laws, the hard stuff, or the scary stuff. You will get there, but that isn’t where you start. You start with the amazing grace, abundant life, and goodness of Jesus. 


Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,  just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”

John 10:14-15 NLT


Kids want to feel known. Jesus and God can often feel too big to know kids personally. You can help your kids know the truth about Jesus and want to know more by helping them to feel known. It isn’t enough to tell them they are known. They need to feel it to believe it.


Kids need to feel safe to learn, grow, and develop. There is a lot in life that takes away their safety. Jesus should not be one of those things. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who protects his flock and sacrifices himself for their good and their safety. Kids need to know this.

Abundant Life-Giver

“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

John 10:9-10 NLT

Kids are natural celebrators, life-livers, joy-experiencers. When that part of following Jesus is left out or minimized we are doing a disservice to our children and to God. 

Psalm 16:11 CSB says, “In your presence is abundant joy.” Over and over throughout Scripture, we are reminded to celebrate, dance, sing, and enjoy. Yet, how often is that the opposite of what happens for kids when they are supposed to be learning about God?

What if Jesus meant that the Kingdom of God belongs to those such as these kids who play? Who dance? Who can let go of the world around them and enjoy themselves and their friends? These kids who can imagine? The ones that dream and pretend? Yet, instead of the joy, there is pressure to memorize the books of the Bible, follow a list of rules, earn rewards, repeat what someone thought the story was about, or perfectly reproduce someone else’s creation. Where’s the joy in that?

Amazing Grace

“Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’

 ‘No, Lord,’ she said.

And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’”

John 8:10-11 NLT

Kids are sinners. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. There is no denying that or hiding from it, but what if, kids knew that there is more to them than their sin and their behavior, especially in Jesus’s eyes? 

Jesus is about so much more than behavior modification. There is no condemnation in Jesus. He is a shame-free zone.  That isn’t the way he is always portrayed to children though. 

Kids don’t want a policeman Jesus sitting waiting to catch them sinning so he can write them a ticket. Kids want a safe place where their sin and struggles are known and they are still loved. 

Your Role as A Parent

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ICB

Your job as a parent is not to convince your children to follow Jesus. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Your job to nurture your children’s faith is to love God yourself, teach them, and play to honor the way God created them to learn and model an abundant life.

You are responsible for yourself and your faith. Is how you are parenting, disciplining, and discipling your children a reflection of God? That’s on you. 

Have you done the best you could, but your children are walking in a different direction? That’s on them. Pray for them and continue to play with (no matter their age) and delight in them.

Recap of the Jesus Your Kids Want to Know

Eternal separation from a judgy, non-fun, too big-to-care-about-me, high-and-mighty guy isn’t a developmentally appropriate reason for children to want to know and worship Jesus. It also isn’t a true reflection of who Jesus is. But, too often it is the way Christians unintentionally portray him.

The Jesus your kids want to know is the true Jesus full of love, life, safety, and grace, a friend. Turns out, the Jesus kids want to know is the Jesus I want to know, too.

About Joy Wendling, MA
Enthusiastic. Passionate. Profound. Joy Wendling is a family pastor, writer, speaker, podcaster, certified parent coach, and founder of Created to Play. She has over 20 years of experience in children, youth, and family ministry, as well as a Master’s in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary. Her idea of relaxing is gazing at the mountains from her island home with an ice-cold Diet Coke and a good book. Joy lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys laughing and playing with her five daughters and husband. Get to know her better at and on her podcast titled Playfully Faithful Parenting. You can read more about the author here.

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