Let me be 100% honest. I love it when kids choose to follow Christ. Specifically, I love it when they make that public profession and signify that with baptism. To play some part, big or small- there’s nothing better. However, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson over the years. I wish I knew what I know now when I was first getting started. Are you ready for this?
A decision for faith isn’t always an exact moment in time. Sure, many people raise their hands and say the prayer, but I don’t think conversion is as simple as we like to make it. Sometimes becoming a follower of Christ is more of a process than a momentary decision. Actually, I’d be willing to bet that its more of a process for most people. It might end with a simple prayer or a walk to the front, but it usually started long before that moment.
Almost six months ago, an 8 year old girl came to one of our baptism classes with her mom. She seemed to connect to the material but her mom was unsure that she really understood. I suggested that they wait. I encouraged them to talk frequently about the material, but wait and see what happens over a little time.
Last month I got a text message from the same mom. “It happened” she declared. In a conversation before bedtime, God’s truth clicked for this little 8 year old. With tears in her eyes, she recognized her need for God’s grace and expressed her desire to let Jesus lead her life. What she described to me seemed like the most beautiful thing in the world.
I’m so thankful that I didn’t pressure her to make a formal decision. She understood enough, right? I’m so glad that her mom or dad didn’t urge her to pray a prayer or move forward with a premature baptism. Why? Because God wanted to do something in his time. God has a timeline. He has a process and it’s important that we respect the process.
Whether you lead a group of 1st graders or 4th graders, you’re a part of a process. You might see half of your 4th grade girls come to faith. You might not see any of your 1st grade boys make decisions. Neither is a sign of success or failure. Regardless of where you make your investment, you’re a part of a process. It’s not you who brings a child to salvation. It never should be. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And you get the privilege of playing a part of the process.
What if your 5th grader graduates to Middle School without saying the prayer? It’s okay, maybe it’s not his time. Maybe you need to continue to invest in him the following year. Maybe you pass the baton to the 6th grade leader in such a way that gives him the leverage to influence those you pass his way. Respect the process, play your part and watch what only God can do!