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.