Why my kids never asked Jesus into their hearts.

One of the things being a children’s pastor taught me was that vocabulary matters. One of the phrases I retired from our kids ministry years ago was “Asking Jesus into your heart.” It’s not bad, just confusing. Kids always look at you funny and then rather than talk about the power of redemption and how we all are in need of the saving power of Christ. We spend time fielding questions from 5 year olds about the location of our Savior. “If Jesus is in heaven how is he inside my heart?” “Does God shrink Jesus so he can fit inside my heart?” “If Jesus lives in my heart why do I still get acid reflux?” Ok that last one wasn’t real. But I think you get my point.

Asking Jesus into your heart is not a bad concept to explain to kids it’s just poorly worded. The idea of telling kids to ask Jesus into their heart  uses a metaphor, I believe, is a bit dated. The phrase asking Jesus into your heart has been around for ages and I believe it has served it’s purpose well. I just think that it’s time for an update. Here’s why.

  • It creates more questions than it answers. – How can Jesus live in heaven and in my heart
  • We live in the information age and kids know how to google before they know how to tie their shoes. Kid’s are not thinking wow I want to surrender my affections to Christ they are wondering what is Jesus doing in my right ventricle.
  • It doesn’t focus kids to what matters most, their sinfulness and Christ’s sacrifice.

You may be thinking then what am I supposed to say to a child to invite them to surrender their life to Christ? With our kids at home and at church we are very intentional to ask kids if they would like to “Trust Jesus with their whole heart.” It may sound like semantics to you but I believe it’s much more than that. Kids need to understand from a young age that the first issue of faith that has to be settled is trust. Kids get trust.

Talking about Jesus inside our hearts conjures up a very different idea today than it used to. What we were trying to do was make a kid friendly way of saying that we were inviting Jesus to be the Lord over our affections. The heart always represents the seat of human affections. It’s still important that kids understand this because what language we use begins to form the world view our kids have. We have chosen to say “Trust Jesus with our whole heart” at the Luce house and at Redeeemer. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it creates a much better conversation because it starts with us Trusting Jesus because of who He is because of what He has done. We give him our whole heart because He gave up his whole life for our sin. He doesn’t want a part of our affections He wants to be treasured above all else. Kids are never to young to hear the gospel. They need to understand their sinfulness and Christ’s unconditional grace. Rather than fret over the GPS location of baby Jesus.

Why have I been thinking about this? My middle boy decided last night to trust Jesus with his whole heart. I could not have been more happy. The angels in heaven are rejoicing, a 5 year old prodigal has come home. Love my boy but will never love him as much as his Savior.

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20 thoughts on “Why my kids never asked Jesus into their hearts.

  1. Sam I too stopped using this phrase when one time I had a child in our children's ministry that was going in for a heart transplant. As you can tell where this is going, I was there trying to comfort this child a they sobbed continuously. As any good children's pastor would do, i was really trying to comfort them and assure them everything would be ok. The harder I tried to comfort the more the cried. This could be damaging to anyone's self esteem so I thought it better to try and ask more questions to find out why they were crying so much?

    I found out. They just asked Jesus "into their heart" the previous Sunday and didn't know if He would be in the new heart they were getting. At that moment I knew i would never use that phrase again. Instead we always say "into their life". Since that is where we want Him, in every part of our life, no secret off limit areas.

  2. Great post, Sam. So excited for your son! As a father, there is no prouder moment than when your child steps into the world of faith in Christ! Congratulations!

  3. Good point Sam.We have used things about inviting Jesus into your life to save you and to be a part of everything you do. I like the phraseology you are using here and the thought behind it. It makes it very simple. I may sample it.

  4. Love it! Since this phrase was somehow coined without a Biblical backbone to it, it has always driven me nuts – when I was a child and now that I'm a parent. I think it is great to teach it as simply as possible to anyone asking -not causing them to wrestle with the hows of Jesus fitting into a heart and how He can live there and be everywhere – all we are called to do is believe and confess, and that is a LOT simpler.

  5. Thank you so much Sam. We celebrate along with you that your son has decided to trust Jesus with his whole heart. Thanks for sharing and teaching they way you do. Awesome!

  6. Been wrestling with this phrase too. You put it in a new light with the trust factor. We are talking about Trust this month in our kidmin and know it will fit great!! Excited for your family Sam!!

  7. Just catching up on most of your posts with Kevin today and this one is the best!!! So happy to hear S accepted Christ into his life!!!

  8. I like that phrase! Here in New Orleans, Dr. Paula Stringer, recommended the phrase, “Ask Jesus to be the Boss of your Life.” She explains that children don’t understand the term “Lord” and of course, “into your heart” is way too abstract. However, children know what it means to say “boss.” Kids will say, “You are not the boss of me.” I will use your phrase with kids too!

    • Debbie thanks for your comment. I like the boss of your life. I think contextualization is everything. You need to know you kids to be able to apply the truths of God’s word in a way that will sink deep into their lives and transform them.

  9. I love the idea of asking children to “Trust Jesus with their whole heart.” Children are so
    open to the gospel. It is up to the presenters to say it in a manner that they can understand
    what we are saying.[Jesus said let the children come to me and forbid them not for such is
    the kingdom of heaven.] Luke 18:16-17