Don’t Be That Parent Part 2: The Bouncer

imageA couple of years ago, on the way home from a Children’s Ministry event, my daughter dropped a bomb on me.  She said, “I think I’m ready, Dad.  I’m ready to get baptized.”

Immediately, I felt the pressure.  I wanted to say the right thing to affirm her, but also make sure she really knew what she was getting into.  This was one conversation I did not want to mess up.

When our kids start asking questions about salvation, baptism and what it means to follow Jesus, it’s easy to freak out.  It’s easy fall into unhealthy extremes.

In my last post we looked at the first of these extremes, the salesman.  The salesman is the parent who thinks it’s their job to convince their kids to get baptized and follow Jesus as early as they possibly can.

In this post we’ll look at the parent who’s at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Parent #2 – The Bouncer

A bouncer’s job is to keep underage kids out of the club.  Bouncer parents do the same thing.  The bouncer parent is determined to make sure that their child is 110% ready to follow Jesus.  They will be old enough!  They will be smart enough!  They will be everything enough before they are allowed to give their life to Christ!  The bouncer’s standard line is “you’re not ready yet.”

Bouncer parents have great intentions.  They want to make sure their children are able to grasp what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.  They want their children to fully understand the gravity of the decision.  That’s a good thing.

We’ve all known people who came to Christ as kids but, as adults, said they didn’t understand the decision they had made.  Nobody wants that.  But we also don’t want to quench the work of the Holy Spirit.

If you struggle with being a bouncer parent, here a few things to remember.  

1. We shouldn’t make it hard for our kids to come to Jesus.

In the book of Acts,  a group of religious leaders (1st century bouncers) started raising a stink because they wanted all the new Gentile believers to be circumcised just like the Jewish Christians.  The leaders of the church got together and decided to reject this idea because it would put a barrier between lost people and Jesus. James said it like this, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19, NIV).  The same principle applies to bouncer parents.  We shouldn’t make it hard for our kids to turn to God.

2. You don’t know have to know everything to follow Jesus.  

I was 21 when I became a Christian and certainly didn’t know everything about Jesus, the Bible and what it means to follow God.  Twenty years laters, I still don’t.  Sure, there are some basics kids need to know about who Jesus is and what he did for them.  But they will have the rest of their lives to grow in their faith and understanding of God.

3. Just because an adult questions a decision they made as a child, it doesn’t invalidate their childhood conversion.  

I’m not opposed to someone rededicating their life to Christ or even getting baptized a second time if they’re questioning their conversion experience.  If you feel like God is calling you to do something, do it.  But I wonder how many of these people may have actually made an authentic decision as kids.  They truly put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but they’ve forgotten what God was doing in their hearts at the time because no one helped them to record it or reenforce it in the following years.

Also, sin has a way of making us feel not saved.  You’re not a really a Christian if you did that, right?   However, the truth is that faith isn’t a feeling.  It’s a choice.  It’s a choice to place our trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.  We have to prepare Christians kids for the reality that they will struggle with sin, but that sin has already been forgiven.  It doesn’t change their identity in Christ.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that, yes, it’s the role of the spiritual parent to help kids process their decision to follow Jesus and make sure they understand the choice they are making, but sometimes we may set the bar too high, turning our kids off to faith.  Don’t be that parent!

Be open to what God is doing in your child’s life.  Just because you’re not ready for them to make the decision to follow Jesus and be baptized, doesn’t mean they’re not ready.  In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said it like this, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

In my next couple of posts, we’ll look at the final parent you don’t want to be and then will walk through some best practices for helping our kids navigate big decisions of faith.

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