NASHVILLE (BP) — Four hours into a road trip, 6-year-old Gavin was getting fidgety. To pass the time, he began rattling off a barrage of questions to his parents.
“Mom, can I have a snack?”
“Dad, are we there yet?”
“Hey, when can I get baptized?”
Gavin’s parents looked at each other wondering where the last question had come from. Turns out, Gavin had watched his friend get baptized a few weeks ago. And now Gavin wanted to follow. But his parents weren’t sure if he was ready.
Capturing kids’ curiosity
It’s natural for kids to ask the question, “When do I get to do that?” as they observe baptism and the Lord’s Supper, said Landry Holmes, manager of kids ministry publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources. But for many parents, knowing how to respond to that question isn’t so easy.
For this reason, LifeWay has created the new resource, What is a Christian? It’s designed to help parents walk kids through questions about faith and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
“As a former children’s minister, I often had parents approach me to say their kid had questions about faith and needed to talk to me,” said Shelly Harris, content editor for Explore the Bible: Kids and one of the visionaries behind What is a Christian? “I love talking with kids about faith, but I found myself wishing I had a tool to help parents have those conversations with their kids and discover answers together.”
That idea for a tool became an activity book structured around eight themes including God, Jesus, sin, the Gospel, becoming a Christian, heaven, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each activity session is framed around questions such as
— Will God still love me if I sin?
— What am I saved from?
— How old do I have to be to become a Christian?
— Is my grandma or my dog in heaven?
“We polled church leaders and asked them, ‘What kind of questions are you hearing children ask in your ministry?'” Holmes said. “This resource flowed out of those responses.”
Although What is a Christian? can be used in a classroom, it’s primarily designed to help parents disciple kids one-on-one as they begin wrestling with questions about Christianity.
“This is a great resource for churches to have on hand to distribute to parents when a child says they want to take the Lord’s Supper or be baptized,” Holmes said. “It also makes for a great follow-up tool for families with children who have gone through Vacation Bible School.”
The activity elements of the workbook and question-and-answer format are designed to help stimulate a child’s learning and spur conversations between parents and their kids.
“In the Old Testament, God’s people built altars and stacked stones to remember the Lord’s faithfulness to them,” said Bekah Stoneking, content editor for Explore the Bible: Kids and one of the authors of What is a Christian? “I’d like to think of this book becoming like a little monument for kids — something they can look back on when they’re older and remember the time God began working in their hearts.”
Addressing kids’ apprehensions
LifeWay also recognizes children may be struggling with doubts or fears as they wrestle with truths about the Gospel and the call of discipleship. This tension is addressed in What is a Christian? by candid questions such as, “What if I’m not ready to be a Christian?” and “What do I do about baptism if I’m afraid of water.”
“There’s a lot about following Christ that can seem scary or overwhelming,” Stoneking said. “With this resource, we’re seeking to help calm some of those fears. We want to provide biblical comfort and answers, but also equip young people to make informed decisions about repentance and faith.”
For more information, look for What is a Christian? at LifeWay Stores or LifeWay.com.