In Matthew 19:14, Jesus clearly says not to stop kids from coming to Him. If I asked you if you’ve been guilty of stopping kids from reaching Christ, my guess is you’d say no. But if we really look at it, are we guilty of stopping kids from coming to Christ? In reality, we probably all are to some degree or another. Let’s look at some of the ways we stop kids in their spiritual development.
We teach them bad things about church
Kids often view the way they see their parents treat church as the way their parents treat God. To your kids, how does it look like you are treating God? I’ve seen the ill effects of church-hopping, among other things. How does it look to a child when their parent treats every church they join as disposable? What about when they see their parents complaining about every little thing that they don’t like? Treating other people badly in church? Fast-forward a few years, and you see those same kids distrusting God, distrusting Christians, or distrusting church. That’s usually because the church, in their eyes, doesn’t match what the Bible says. They see the Bible saying that Christians should “let everything [they] say be good and helpful,” and then the adults and parents around them don’t live that out. This disconnect drives kids from God and from church. On the flip side, sometimes you see those kids staying in church. But often they stay simply to behave exactly as their parents did. Teaching kids the wrong things about church is a great way to stop their spiritual growth.
We don’t explain things well
Someday, I could probably write a book filled with things that we say that confuse kids, or some that are even just plain wrong or weird. Here are just a few that I’ve heard:
- “Ask Jesus into your heart” (I actually had a kid ask me one time where Jesus would fit and if there was a door that He uses to get in).
- “The Lord’s Supper is eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood” (Yup, for real).
- *Insert anything with big words or “olde” English here* (Trust me, if you try to get kids to understand something like John 1:15 in the King James, you will lose them if you don’t explain well. Here it is: “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.”)
- “Baptism washes sins away” (Baptism is a symbol. I had a child in my office a while back that genuinely believed that she needed baptism to be saved. That’s theologically wrong, and it teaches kids that we need things other than Christ to be saved).
Anytime that we do this and don’t take time to explain or we explain poorly, we end up causing more confusion. Not explaining things or assuming kids know exactly what we are talking about is a very easy way to stop them from growing spiritually.
We don’t teach
Often, parents rely fully on the church to teach their kids about Christ. That’s a pretty big obstacle for a kid to overcome. Considering that there are 168 hours in a week and we may, if we’re lucky, get them to church for maybe 3 of those, that’s a maximum of 1.8% of their time. If we are relying on 1.8% of anything to do the majority of the legwork, that’s a recipe for disaster. If a parent is not assuming the role of the spiritual leader in the home, it can be a way to stop kids from coming to Christ.
We teach the wrong things
Sadly, some parents teach the wrong thing. Some parents teach Christianity as a set of rules. A set of traditions. A set of if/then scenarios with God. We do see kids that fail to learn about a relationship with Christ because they have been taught only a set of religious rules. Putting a set of rules above a relationship with Christ is a very fast way to stop spiritual growth.