Should Christian parents evangelize their children? What if your child has been and is going to church; should you still evangelize him (or her)?
Christians take comfort from Acts 2:39: “the promise is for you and for your children.” God’s promises are multi-generational. Paul’s assurance that children of even just one believing parent are “holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14) reinforces our confidence, as does his statement: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). We can find the root of our comfort in God’s covenant with Abraham: “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7).
Yet simply to be born of believers doesn’t guarantee salvation (Romans 2:12–29). A child must also be raised faithfully in the covenant (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Psalm 78:1–7), and he must believe (John 3:18). Only those “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” are children of God (John 1:10–13).
But if there is no blanket promise of salvation to the children of believers, is there any advantage to being born to Christian parents? Yes! There is great advantage. Like the Jews, they are entrusted with the oracles of God (Romans 3:2). That is a tremendous advantage, for “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23–25). What other children hear the Word in the home, grow up in the church where they hear the preaching and teaching of the Word week in and week out, and where their friends and teachers encourage them to believe and obey?
Yet the promise of salvation is to all who believe, and only to them. Far from unconditionally guaranteeing their salvation, the promises of Scripture to believers for their children establish Christian parents’ responsibility to evangelize our children. We must evangelize our children, we must tell them and show them the gospel at every opportunity, before and after they ever profess faith in Christ.
So how can we evangelize our children? Here are three concrete and practical ways to do so:
- First, in your children’s younger years, involve them frequently, preferably daily, in family worship. Don’t be intimidated. Keep it simple: read a Bible portion, pray, and sing a hymn or chorus or children’s Bible song.
- Second, instill the habit of personal devotions. Keep it simple. Simply reading a chapter of the Bible and praying are all they need to do. If they want to keep a journal, prayer list, or write notes, that’s fine; but if pushing for it intimidates them, don’t insist on it.
- Third, every Lord’s Day have your children in the worship of God, under the preaching of the Word, in the fellowship of the saints and partaking regularly of the Lord’s Supper. While personal and family devotions are important, the Bible emphasizes corporate worship.
The fundamental thing is this: The more they see that you and I, though we know ourselves sinners, “[believe] to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and [act] differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth,” and principally that they see we “[accept, receive, and rest] upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life,” as the Westminster Confession of Faith describes the acts of saving faith (14.2), the more likely our children will follow in our footsteps (John 5:19).
You should evangelize your children through family worship, teaching them personal devotions, and faithful participation in corporate worship. And take heart. The promise — believe and you will be saved — is to you and to your children!