As a parent who loves Jesus, you want to see your children grow closer to Him as they journey through life. So, how do you cultivate an environment in your home that reveals their need for Jesus and grows their faith? You need practical tips for leading a child to Christ. Discover ways that help you WIN at parenting!
How to WIN at Leading a Child to Christ
- Walk the path.
- Initiate weekly conversations.
- Never miss a God moment.
Like any Christian parent, you want to know how to teach, train, and disciple your child to become a devoted follower of Christ. Many parents need help figuring out where to start. The journey of discipling your child can be overwhelming.
- How do you start instilling a biblical worldview at a young age?
- How do you teach rules and expectations in your home?
- How do you teach your child that discipline is God’s way of leading them back to Him?
To win at parenting and leading your child to Jesus…
- Walk the path: Strong families walk the path of intentionality. There are checkpoints for each stage of life as you disciple and lead your children with a purpose.
- Initiate weekly conversations. Intentional parents initiate weekly conversations by setting aside regular time to read God’s Word and worship together as a family.
- Never miss a God moment. Intentional parents never miss a God moment by seizing opportunities to connect spiritual truths to everyday life. Intentionally talking with your kids every day about everyday life helps them develop a biblical worldview.
First Things First, Pray!
Before getting into practical tips, you must cover your parenting journey and your child in prayer! This is critical and the foundation for leading a child to Christ. Never underestimate the power of a praying parent.
Pray for yourself, your spouse, and other adults involved in raising your child. Pray for God to give you wisdom, endurance, and a passion for parenting in a way that sparks your child’s heart to pursue Jesus.
- Lift up your concerns, worries, and requests to Jesus. Praying for your children and yourself isn’t about the length of your prayers. Instead, it is about praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances, and declaring your dependence on Him when leading a child to Christ.
- Pray, “God, as I enter this new season of parenting, I thank You for allowing me to be the parent of and care for (your child’s name). You love them with everlasting love and died on the cross for (name). Lord Jesus, I pray for Your strength and endurance. Nourish the soil of their heart so they will receive the gift of salvation and come to know You intimately and personally. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.”
Instill a Biblical Worldview
When children are at a young age, you must prime them with the fear of God on the canvas of their hearts. The fear of God is not fear in the sense of being scared. Rather, it is being in awe and submitting to Him. It’s about teaching your kids to see God and His Word as the ultimate authority.
How do you do this? You must also be in awe and submit to Him. Your fear of the Lord begins instilling a biblical worldview in your child at a young age.
- Talk to them about being in awe and submitting to God’s authority because He is the Creator of all things.
- Read and discuss verses such as Genesis 1:1, Revelation 4:11, and Colossians 1:16-17 in a child’s Bible.
Use Proactive Discipline
When training your child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), think about how to be proactive in your discipline.
Set clear expectations. What expectations and rules do you have in your home? Do you expect them to respond the first time they are asked to do something? Talk to them about why this is an expectation. Whatever the expectations are, clearly communicate them to your child.
Next, communicate the consequences of not meeting expectations or breaking a rule. Discuss with them the expectation of their disposition and heart when given instruction. If your child is asked to put away a toy, but the instruction is met with an eye roll, a disrespectful “Fine,” or a delay, this is not obedience. Part of your expectation must include disposition, and consequences must be given if their disposition is disrespectful.
Finally, be consistent. This likely isn’t the first time you’ve heard about consistency in parenting. Consistency is key in disciplining and discipling your child. It is also one of the most difficult.
The Benefit of Being Proactive
When it is difficult to be proactive or consistent, think about how you have been exhausted and reactive in the past. This isn’t God’s best for you as a parent. He has a better way of bringing peace, love, and joy into your home. Disciplining isn’t all about correcting the wrong but training the right. This is why communicating expectations in a way that teaches about God’s love helps to lead them to Jesus.
- Play pickup. After communicating an expectation to your child, practice giving an instruction such as, “Okay, let’s pick up all your toys now.” Have them practice obeying the first time asked and with a happy heart. During the pickup game, if they delay or are disrespectful, use this as a teaching moment. Try again and keep encouraging them.
- Remember this: If they can’t listen to and obey you, they will struggle to listen to and obey God. You are teaching them what having a heart of humility and submission looks like. To lead a child to Christ, they must be humble, see their need for a Savior, and submit to His lordship. It is your responsibility to foster that heart of humility and submission by walking in it yourself.
Discipline and Discipleship
The goal of discipline is always intimacy. God’s best for us as parents and our children is to connect when correcting. Rather than thinking of discipline as punishment, think of it as training opportunities to guide your children into a relationship with Jesus.
As parents, we don’t enjoy disciplining our children, and the situation can get emotional. It can be difficult and even uncomfortable. We can get angry, agitated, frustrated, and overwhelmed. When we act out of these emotions rather than pausing, praying, and walking in the fruit of the Spirit, the connection and intimacy are broken in the attempt to correct a behavior.
Thinking Differently About Discipleship and Discipline
Perhaps you’ve placed discipleship and discipline in 2 different categories. One involves reading Bible stories, engaging in prayer, and participating in worship; the other involves removing privileges and giving consequences. But leading a child to Christ requires seeing discipleship and discipline closely connected and working together to train and teach a child in the ways they will go.
Discipleship focuses on a relationship, first with God and then with others. It’s a way to teach and share the gospel with your kids. Discipleship fosters growth and spiritual maturity. As you disciple your child, you must lead by humble example and feed them God’s Word through Bible studies and stories. Engage in conversations with your child when a God moment arises. This often happens when inconvenient for you, which is another aspect of discipleship—sacrificial love. As parents, we must be wise to what God is doing in our children and “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) to talk about how God created them for a purpose and uses circumstances to teach and grow them into that purpose and closer to Jesus.
Discipleship and leading your child to Christ involves giving up something. This may mean giving up sleep at times because you need to stay up late with your pre-teen to answer questions about Jesus and God’s Word. Discipling your child and leading them to Jesus requires putting Philippians 2:3 into practice: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
Though not all discipleship involves discipline, all discipline is a discipleship opportunity. The word discipline means “to learn.” If your child needs discipline, it means there is something they must practice and learn.
Discipling your child involves disciplining them at times. They are students in training to hear the voice of Jesus better. Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening (discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Discipline, done with a discipleship mindset, brings peace and the richness of God’s love into the home.
- Think about discipline as those God moments, seizing opportunities to connect spiritual truths to everyday life. Reassure your child that God wants what is best for them and that we are all in training under His authority to live a life that reflects His love for others.
- Reassure your child. When disciplining them, explain what was wrong and point out what God’s Word says about it. Let them know how you struggled with something similar and how God taught you to overcome it. Lastly, reassure them of God’s love and yours by holding them, praying for and with them, and letting them know they are forgiven because of Jesus.
Share the Gospel | 7 Practical Ways for Leading Your Children to Jesus
Your child must be primed to hear the gospel. Their receiving can’t be forced, but be prepared to lead them to Christ when the time is right. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”
Here is an example of a simple prayer. “Lord, I pray for (name) that You would open their heart to hearing the message of the gospel. I pray that You would show them their need for Jesus and that they would say ‘Yes’ to You and the gift of salvation. I pray that they will come to love You with their whole heart. I ask that You give me Your words to share so they may come to know Jesus personally. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
- Prioritize sharing the gospel.
Create rhythms of Bible study at home. Rhythms and routines will shift depending on each family’s schedule, but you can set aside time early in the morning, during the day, or at night to read a Bible story, listen to worship music, and pray.
- Process the gospel with them.
This can be done intentionally and accidentally. As they start to show interest and ask questions about Jesus and the gospel, nurture their curiosity. Process spiritual things in conversation and invite them to ask questions.
- Live it out so they can catch it.
Faith is caught, not taught. Seeking the Lord for yourself and loving Him with all your heart passes on a passion for Jesus that your children can catch.
- Ask questions that reveal their need for Jesus.
Asking questions such as, “Who has committed the most sin in our home?” allows you to see if they are ready to receive the gospel. If they answer something like, “We all have, which is why we need Jesus,” their heart is aware of their need and ready to hear more.
- Lead your child to Jesus using the Gospel Bride.
You know your child better than anyone. If you sense they are ready to receive Jesus, you can ask, “Do you want to put your faith in Christ?” The Gospel Bridge is a simple and effective way to illustrate the need for Jesus. Process it at a pace that is appropriate for your child. Pray with them. Remember, you can’t force salvation. Cultivating and changing their heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. Be patient in the process of leading them to Christ.
- Lead them to pray.
When ready, you can lead them in a simple prayer or ask if they want to pray. This could be something as simple as the sinner’s prayer. “Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I ask You for forgiveness. I believe You died for my sin and rose from the grave. I receive the gift of eternal life and want to trust and follow You. Amen.” You can test the integrity of their decision by asking, “Would you want Heaven if it was only Jesus?”
What Every Parent Needs to Know
If you think you aren’t equipped to lead your child to Christ, remember 2 Peter 1:2-4…
- “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
God didn’t give your children to just anyone. He gave them to you. And He will equip you to do what He has called you to do in parenting. Continue asking Him to teach you His ways as you train up your child.
He will honor your heartfelt prayer request.
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