How do you discern the conversion of a child?

There are commonly 2 extremes as we all wrestle with this question.  The first is the careless lack of discernment of many churches who have an alter call for 4-5 year olds, ask them to raise their hand if they love Jesus, then baptize them as converted followers of Jesus.  The other extreme often results from the carelessness of the first.

This extreme prevents both parents and pastors to be willing to affirm whether or not a child is truly converted until they are adults and are completely independent of their parent’s authority and care.  I believe a middle ground must be approached if we truly desire to discern clear biblical evidence that a child, teenager, or young adult has become a new creature in Christ.

Knowing we are not God and cannot see the heart, I believe there are still evidences we can see and know to help us discern a child or teenager’s conversion in a similar way we try to do the same with adults.   In the spirit of Jonathan Edward’s 5 signs of true conversion, here are 5 evidences that I try to use as a template as both a parent and pastor in wrestling with this issue.

1)  A growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.

2)  A heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.

3)  An increased kindness and selflessness towards siblings.

4)  A greater awareness and distaste for sin.

5)  A noticeable desire to obey parents.

In my experience as both a parent and a pastor, I have found that age is not the most important gauge to determine true conversion, but to genuinely look for these evidences in an age appropriate manner.  For example, we need to know that a child has a clear understanding of the gospel.  However, that will be articulated by a 10 year old differently than it should a 16 year old.  A desire to obey parents and a selfless spirit towards siblings will also show up differently in a 10 year old than they will in a 16 year old.

Nevertheless, they must be present in some way and I would strongly discourage any pastor or parent to affirm a child’s conversion without some kind of tangible evidence apart from their verbal profession.  On the flip side, I would also caution you from falling into the trap I have in the past in regard to demanding more from a child than can be observed.

This is tricky ground I realize.  So much as a pastor must be approached on a case by case basis.  Many of us will be all around the spectrum, but the one takeaway from this post is be mindful to avoid the extremes that do exist on both sides.  Find I nice seat in the shade somewhere in the middle as a starting point.  Then, be wise, assess honestly, and pray that the merciful God who does regenerate adults, teenagers, and even children give you much discernment.

Posted in Discipleship, Home and Family
38 comments on “How do you discern the conversion of a child?
  1. Todd says:

    How about a follow up post on how to talk to parents who want you to baptize their young child based on verbal profession alone.

  2. Seth says:

    My wife and I will certainly be looking for these signs in the coming weeks; Last night, after a tearful exchange, our five-year-old, Noah, prayed for God to take over his life and save him from sin.

  3. moodygrad2000 says:

    I agree with the need for a follow up. The only type of people I’ve ever been around are the ones who are eager to declare small children saved. Admittedly, this is absolutely not an easy issue and there are no hard and fast rules about whether or not you can lead a very small child to Christ. As for me, I think they need to be old enough to sense guilt and need before God. Of course, that opens up the judgment-begging box of “How guilty?” and “how needy?” Bottom line: I see too many people in churches who have no desire for the Lord or spiritual things. They are identified with the church because of their regular attendance to services and social activities and their lack of overt vices. However, they would rather talk about child-rearing and baking than the Lord. (No, I am not saying those things are bad, only that an exclusive focus on earthly things to the exclusion of the heavenly, other than platitudes of course, is telling of where our heart really lies). Sounds like I’m getting off topic, but so many of these people I speak of grew up in a Christian home where someone supposedly led them to receive Jesus “into their heart” when they were 4. Ok, I feel my blood pressure going up, I better stop. Over and out.

  4. Victor says:

    Todd’s suggestion is perfect!

  5. Marc Mullins says:

    Excellent post, it is difficult sometimes for parents and pastors to see how a childs repentance and obedience may appear different but come from the same type of regenerate heart. We have a pervasive culture in the church at large that decisions should be quickly dunked in water to sign, seal, and deliver a child into God’s family even when they are absent evidences of God’s saving and sanctifying grace in their lives. Should we be excited about a youngster’s profession of faith, absolutely! But the supreme duty is to discern the how God is working in them to become more Christ-like and show remorse for their sin against God and continue them along that path.

  6. BA says:

    Yeah, that’s a tough one. We have a 4 year old that loves to memorize Scripture, requests the Bible often, and answers “because Jesus died for my sins and was raised from the dead” when I ask him how he knows he’s going to heaven (after he adamantly tells me that he is going to heaven). He prays without being told to (sincere prayers for himself and others), he desires to obey us and he strives to be loving toward his one-year-old brother and others. … But he still has the occasional tantrum-filled “4-year-old days” and I still hesitate to speak to him as if he’s among the elect. In the back of my head, I hear repeatedly, “he’s only 4″. It’s a tough situation, because on one hand I rejoice at his “coversion-like” responses and attitudes, but on the other hand, I want to be careful to not affirm him as a believer when in fact, he may be just repeating what we’re pouring him into him and simply doing the right things because we tell him to. When I pray over him at night, I still pray that God would turn his heart toward Him at an early age – I don’t know what I’m going to say when he stops me and says, “God has already done that, right?” Tough one.

    • briancroft says:

      But a good problem to have…

    • Joel says:

      BA- My young children have shown similar responses, and still have their moments of selfishness and sin. But I want to make sure I am not mistaking your comment that you doubt conversion because of occasional sin. Because as noted in the post, a fruit of the believer is a growing distaste for sin not a complete removal of it. To put this in perspective, if we honestly looked at our own sin and responses to God as he is growing us, teaching us, disciplining us it probably looks a lot like the tantrum of a 4 yr old. Our tantrums just tend to be more socially acceptable. This side of eternity we will never know with 100% certainty who is the elect, for only God knows the heart of a man. With that in mind I pray for my “converted” and “unconverted” children the same; that God would grow their heart to love Him more than everything else in the world. Also, the prayer of “turn your heart to God” should not just be for the unbeliever, but the believer as well. We are all need this reminder. So continue to pray, in one breath for justification and the next sanctification, trusting that God will answer your prayers. Blessings

      • briancroft says:

        Correct. All will struggle with sin, adults, teens, and children when converted. The battle of the flesh and spirit is one of the great battles of the Christian life.

  7. HeatherHH says:

    There is also a difference between a one-time verbal profession and one that continues on. Our 4 1/2-year-old was recently baptized. To be honest, that was earlier than what we really wanted. But, she’s a very articulate girl with good understanding. She made a profession several months before and continued. We didn’t mention baptism, but she did, saying that she wanted to show people that she wanted to follow Jesus and didn’t want to sin. We explained that we’d have to pray about it, because sometimes young children say something but don’t really understand what they mean. This is a child that has trouble persevering in anything and is easily swayed, and we prayed if it wasn’t the right time that she’d lose interest like she usually does. She didn’t. She had a good attitude about it, but prayed for months that Daddy and Mommy would let her be baptized. She also was more willing to accept correction, prayed on her own initiative regularly, was more interactive during family devotions than ever before, was more often grieved by her sin when it was simply pointed out (i.e. no guilt-inducing lectures), etc. So, we allowed her to be baptized; we couldn’t see holding her back.

    Two other children were baptized at 8 (with the 4 1/2 yo) and at 6 1/2. They showed clear signs of conversion, increased willingness to obey, interest in prayer and Bible reading, etc and definitely seemed like new creations.

    And our current 6 1/2-year old is not converted or baptized. She watched her older and younger sisters be baptized earlier this month, but isn’t sure yet that she wants to be follow Jesus. And so we pray. But, I think in Christian homes the norm for conversion and baptism of children should be younger than 10.

  8. Steve says:

    Brian, thanks for the post and I think your counsel is excellent. I have also found it important to approach the response to conversion from another direction – the response of the convert to the church and the church’s response to them. Said another way – along with confirming an adequate response of faith, should we not ask the question: “Is this individual ready to be responsible for that faith?” If we understand that any professing believer is to find his/her place alongside the believers they assemble with in a local church context (as Scripture would seem to affirm) then that last question is a very important one. As a pastor, I don’t have categories to place the believers in as it regards my responsibilities toward them (consider the shepherding charge along with my side of the “one anothers”)… these expectations extend to all. In the same way, the individual believer must respond to their responsibilities (again, the “one anothers” is a good place to start). When we add to that the necessity of biblical restoration (church discipline) being afforded every member of the fellowship … I think our affirmation of a believer into membership (read conversion/baptism) must demand an independence, in large part, that is akin to adulthood.
    Interested in your thoughts if one adds this perspective.

  9. Arline Erven says:

    My little cousin became a Christian when she was ten, or at least, I think so. Sometimes. She isn’t being brought up in a home or at a church where there is any discipleship. I’m not even sure her parents are Christians, and if they are, they can’t articulate the gospel. (It isn’t evident in their parenting, either.)

    I’ve shared the gospel with her on a few occasions, and she understood the Bridge Diagram. She said, “That picture explained everything!” :) However, I rarely get to see her, so I don’t know what fruit is being produced in her life.

    This all sounds judgmental, but I write it to ask this question: How can we know a child is a Christian, when they are not in a home or church where they’re learning to articulate the gospel? Or being taught to need Jesus or the gospel daily?

  10. Jaye says:

    Here’s one thing I’ve noticed over 10 years of working in youth ministry: it’s how many times the idea of ‘Social Justice’-type ministries can be detrimental to a youth’s idea of salvation. I’ve seen parents – parents who seem to be believing and faithful – encourage their young children and then youths into ministry opportunities in the same way that secular parents fill up their children’s calendars with soccer and baseball practice and piano and dance lessons. These children then come away with this idea that ‘doing’ means more to God or is on a par with their belief and obedience. They begin to compare mission trips like notches on the wall, and those who’ve been on more trips will consider it a point of pride. Often they’ve learned their Bible verses in AWANA, but as they get older, devotion becomes more a matter of how many mission trips they can pack into a summer or how many Passion conferences or Hillsong concerts they attend. When they reach young adulthood and there are no parents to subsidize these activities, and their devotional life has been so dry, there’s no impetus for them to continue, and they fall away from the church. As a student at seminary, I see a lot of these grown up kids in our undergrad population, who’ve never raised funds for a mission trip, and whose parents are still subsidizing their summer mission trips, and I wonder, how long will this ‘devotion’ last?

    It’s not that any of these activities (mission trips, Christian concerts and conferences) are bad in-and-of-themselves, but if parents don’t take the time to ensure that their children understand that salvation and sanctification are about a relationship with God and a dying to self, then for those children, their life with God becomes merely a scrabble to go on another trip or to attend another event, and in the times between, they look and behave just like the world. It’s not about the activities themselves, it’s about the heart attitude with which they’re entered into. Youth workers can only do so much – we don’t have the same capacity for influence as parents. I just want to say, please be very careful about what you are teaching your children in all this ‘doing’ for God. If you aren’t, you may just end up with a very well-meaning, nice young adult whose is very service-minded but who has very little concept of the true Gospel that saves.

  11. Joel says:

    Similar follow up post might be to give advice on how to properly pastor parents with young children who desire to partake in communion. I have a daughter who professed faith at an early age (about 4), showed evidences of grace, and desired to partake in communion. My pastor encouraged me to not withhold the table, but to use the communion time as a teaching moment while allowing her to partake and so we have. My second daughter has similar profession and evidences yet hasn’t shown a desire to partake, so we haven’t crossed that bridge with her yet. Just an example to show it is not only different family to family but child to child. Thanks for the post.

  12. A Lutheran says:

    You don’t. You baptize people (infants, children, adults, seniors), continue by teaching them and having them hear the Word of God, and trust that God does what He says in His Word and gives faith (and thus Christ’s life) to those baptized into Christ’s death (Rom 6.4). Trying to look into someone’s heart (here through the lens of outward signs and behavior) is a losing game for all involved.

    • Reformed says:

      Lutheran, I agree.
      The reason I believe some (not all) try and answer this question is to get a credible vocal confession so that they can baptize a believer. This theology comes from the doctrine of baptizing confessed believers only.

      It has been my experience, however, that when studying the Bible, I find considerabaly less scriptural help in this area (discerning a credible confession from a child) than I do that supports baptizing infants of believers.

      In Mark and Matthew, Jesus calls out childrens faith (not just child-like faith) as something special and different, as does Paul. We are instructed to raise our children in the faith and treat them as being followers of Jesus, owned by God. I have been raised in a Christian family and so have my parents. Both my mom and myself can not recall a specific time in our lives where we can say, “It was on [fill in the blank date] that I became a Christian.” Why is that? Because our parents followed God’s guidance, teaching us the Bible since birth.

      If we are instructed to “Baptize and make diciples…” then do we hold off on dicipiling out children until after they experience believers baptism?

  13. Michelle says:

    Thanks for this article, Brian. I think it’s great advice, not just for pastors, but for parents of small children as well. And it wouldn’t hurt us adults to run our relationship with the Lord through Spurgeon’s grid, either!

    I think this will be really helpful for my readers, so I’ll be featuring it tomorrow on the “Theology Tuesday” segment of my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MichelleLesleyAuthor). Thanks again for this post!

  14. Ellie Coursey says:

    Great post. Dennis Gundersen has written a great book about this topic. It is called, “Your Child’s Profession of Faith.” It is from Grace and Truth Books. He points out the manifestations of faith that are in line with Edwards’ 5 points. He also explains the nature of a child and the commitments that are necessary to be a follower of Christ. He uses these points to help parents understand that it is “OK to wait” when your child is not ready to understand or make that life long commitment.

  15. Phil says:

    As both, a pastor and a parent of 7 blessings from God, I have struggled with the same question myself. A professed believers response to sin is one I watch for as well as desire for and understanding of the Word. To Joel, I have a 4 year old that has not yet professed faith but desires to participate in the Lords supper and I use that time to teach and remind him the meaning of the elements and his need for a savior.

  16. I approach this subject a little differently. First, (just for important context), I should mention that we have four children ages 27, 25, 23, 19. I’ve pastored one Church for 27 years that has grown from 7 to 600 people over that time and we’ve had more than 1000 college students pass through during their years at the university in our town. I’ve also led a parents of teens group for 15 years. Talk to most (90 percent) young people who grew up in Christian homes and made professions as children or youth. They will tell you that they “reaffirmed” or “accepted Christ again” after age 18. I don’t expect many younger parents to get this truth, but It’s very hard to know how genuine a child’s profession is until they are outside of the authority/control of parents. The word is ownership. Do they truly own their faith apart from parental factors. As your children get older, you must transition from a relationship of control to influence. If you don’t give up control, you’ll lose authentic influence. As children transition from greater freedom to ownership of their lives (approx. 17-21), they give you more objectively measured opportunities to understand their attachment to the Savior. Before that time, I think you should encourage them in every way toward Christ but be very careful about assumptions regarding their conversion to Christ. If they were in muslim homes, they would likely show similar signs of attachment to Islamic faith (albeit with perhaps a bit more overt coercion). But we could use other expressions. I’ve witnessed far too many parents who have allowed themselves to be so deeply convinced of a child’s conversion only to later express irrational bewilderment by signs of teenage rebellion.

    As for baptism, we will not baptize a child under age 14. Arbitrary? Perhaps. I have re-baptized many college students who did the child baptism thing and later request to be baptized as one who now realizes what it means and admits that it was more of a “parent thing” when they were baptized as a child. We also seek the input of our youth staff as additional witness to parental opinion.

    As for communion, we’ve never mandated anything but make it clear that a child should not be going from a coloring paper during a sermon to the communion table. A child will NOT be hurt by being required to wait until you can tell that they are ready.

    After hitting the post button, I will not be surprised to get some lively responses from parents of younger children. But please exercise some humility to understand that it’s just hard for you to really understand (humble pie later doesn’t taste too good). But I am willing to patiently smile at strong aversion to what I am suggesting. And, I’ve pastored far too long to mean this in a condescending way. I love the children in our ministry and I am a HUGE advocate of the teens. Our four children have made decisions for Christ (or, should I say, have recognized the decision He has made for them). They also love our Church (the two married ones choosing to belong to it). I can also guarantee that in most cases, if I revisited the issue with parents after their children were grown, I’d get a much more seasoned perspective. If I didn’t get it from them, I’d likely get it from their children (been there many times with university students).

    Finally, I consider it very important to identify authentic faith. The context I visit this most in is marriage. Being in a college town, I’ve performed many weddings. The one and only explicit requirement for marrying according to the will of God is to marry one who is a believer. I’ve written more extensively on this here: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/one-requirement-for-who-god-wants-you-to-marry/ and here http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/answering-the-first-question-about-marriage/

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you for your valuable input – it was very helpful to me. My husband and I have four children, our eldest is about to turn 16 and she is at the point of figuring out what she believes. We have shared the gospel with her and told her to ask God to reveal Himself to her personally. We are praying and waiting for signs of regeneration – a softening of her heart, tenderness to others, desire to honour her parents, an awareness of her own sinfulness and need for a saviour, and love for things of the Lord and His Word.

  17. MJ says:

    I’m grateful for all the perspectives here, Mr. Cornell’s especially perhaps. I was raised in an ultra-conservative homeschool program. The pressure for kids to show signs of salvation, ‘godly character’ and such was intense. I’m in my 30’s now, and I’ve seen the long-term results in many many families. The large number of kids who grew up to reject everything their parents tried to instill in them (my own kid brother has been sucked into a semi-cult), leads me to lean more to the side of caution about early conversions! On the other hand, my own 3 year old tells me when she does something wrong that ‘ God is sad with her’. I don’t want to quench the Spirit- praying for guidance and balance here!

  18. John S says:

    Perhaps already mentioned but what about the seeds that fall on the rocks and among the thorns? How long can ‘a while’ be? Or even Heb 6:4? I’ve seen an adult spring up with seeming new life, enjoy what appeared to be genuine fellowship for several years with apparent affection for Jesus and repentance of sin, only to turn their back on the church and deny Christ.

    And I’ve seen a teen at youth camp worship with abandon, with tears streaming down, confessing sin, and being voted ‘camper of the week’ by her behavior, only to turn away completely a couple months later. And a young child’s heart is surely ‘deep water’ as well.

    Many kids root motivation of heart is wanting to please parents. Whether to avoid punishment or for the happiness it gives them to receive praise, or some of both and maybe other confused desires deep in there. It can lead to repentance that comes but not a as a result of regeneration. I think the list of 5 is good, but they can all be ‘faked’ as it were, and done pretty well. Kids have been fooling parents since the beginning of kiddom. Some people fool others their entire lives. Is the parable of the wheat and tares applicable in this discussion? I think it is a legitimate excercise to attempt to discern the salvation of our kids, but boy is it fraught with difficulties. This is not even to mention the issues and deficiencies the parent brings to the party!

  19. Barbara Loeppke says:

    Seems to me that there is something being missed here and that is the Word of God. What does he say? In Mark 10:14, He says, “But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for such is the Kingdom of God”. It isn’t up to us to know whether our children have a true saving belief. That is God’s territory. If our children believe and want to ask Jesus to live in their hearts-I think we are told by God Himself (through scripture ONLY) that we are NOT to keep the children from Him!!

    • A Heart For God says:

      I totally agree with you! God is the judge of our hearts especially children’s hearts that so easily follow him. Since we are never going to be asked by God to take his place and be the judge on this issue we should continue to “raise a child up” in the ways of God, plant the seed, but God as the gardener will do the rest.

    • Reformed says:

      Amen.
      Add to that, Matthew 18 – “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it….If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
      This passage is not just about having “child like” faith, but Jesus is accepting the faith of an actual child along with a stern warning for those of us who may reject it or cause a child to turn away. We need to be VERY careful about telling young kids their profession is not real because they are young.

  20. J.Kru says:

    Knowing that you are a baptist, I just wanted to respectfully submit an essay on “Covenant Succession,” or why many Presbyterians (and others) believe it is entirely appropriate to consider our young children to be regenerate believers. Not trying to start a Bible-fight; I just want you to know where we’re coming from.

    http://www.faithtacoma.org/doctrine/covenant.aspx

    • briancroft says:

      No problem. I do know and respect where you are coming from. In fact, your position eliminates the issue on when to baptize that baptists face with these decisions.

  21. brent says:

    The comment section does not seem to be allowing paragraph spacing to come through. This is a bug that should be fixed if possible. Thanks.

  22. meh. says:

    “Indoctrination is the key to conversion”
    see 1933-1945 Germany.

  23. brent says:

    I read that over a hundred years ago many of the children of Baptist ministers were rarely baptized under the age of 16 and many waited until their kids were even older than that, 18-21 or more.

    The fact that that surprises us shows that we are indeed affected by our culture. The trend has been to go younger and younger. This betrays an undeveloped understanding of our actual situation before God in Christ-centered families.

    I like the confidence that those pastors of distinctly Baptist churches of a hundred years ago showed in being willing to wait. They were waiting, I think, for an adult-like faith and an adult-like obedience of baptism.

    Of course it is fine to baptize children who show all the eagerness of a new believer. But sooner or later they will encounter an adult-sized time of re-evaluating their faith and choices.

    I have waited with mine who are 16, 13, and 8. My 13 year old has asked for it and we have waited a year.

    As an evangelist with non-believing adults, I do in fact recommend that they not wait…baptism will be a more immediate step.

    But as children mature into adults, their thinking will mature too.

    If a child is a true believer then a later baptism will not hurt them. If a child is not a true believer, then an earlier baptism may in fact be detrimental to their view of themselves in terms of faith.

    If all of our kids knew they had the freedom to grow in their faith until they were teenagers and that a public form of declaring their faith awaited them, this would be a healthy thing.

    Then again if a ten year old showed extraordinary sings of life and a burning desire to be baptized, that would influence me in a case by case setting. But this is rare. And even though rare, I would still let them know that Jesus was not baptized until he was an adult, and his pursuit of God is recorded at the age of 13 in Scripture, not earlier.

    As with many things wisdom is needed.

    Be happy with the faith our children demonstrate–with their prayers, witnessing, serving…and let them grow into an adult-like pursuit of God and proclaim it with a young-adult timed baptism.

15 Pings/Trackbacks for "How do you discern the conversion of a child?"
  1. [...] Discerning the Conversion of a Child – Brian Croft tackles a tough question and gives us 5 things to consider (H/T). [...]

  2. [...] How Do You Discern the Conversion of a Child?: There are commonly 2 extremes as we all wrestle with this question.  The first is the careless lack of discernment of many churches who have an alter call for 4-5 year olds, ask them to raise their hand if they love Jesus, then baptize them as converted followers of Jesus.  The other extreme often results from the carelessness of the first. [...]

  3. [...] How do you discern the conversion of a child Good starting point provided by Brian Croft. [...]

  4. [...] which he frequently shares through his blog Practical Shepherding. His latest post is “How Do You Discern the Conversion of a Child.” Drawing on the insights of Jonathan Edwards, Brian offers some helpful thoughts on an [...]

  5. [...] are a few pages you might find funny, insightful, or helpful from around the internet: How To Tell If A Child Is A Believer: Croft suggests five signs to look for: 1)  A growing affection and need for Jesus and the [...]

  6. [...] guidelines here – Knowing we are not God and cannot see the heart, I believe there are still evidences we can see [...]

  7. [...] article is very short, but immensely helpful for baptists and paedobaptists alike. Read it here. Rate this: Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailMoreDiggRedditStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

  8. [...] How Do You Discern the Conversion of a Child?: There are commonly 2 extremes as we all wrestle with this question.  The first is the careless lack of discernment of many churches who have an alter call for 4-5 year olds, ask them to raise their hand if they love Jesus, then baptize them as converted followers of Jesus.  The other extreme often results from the carelessness of the first. Share:SharePrintEmailDigg About Marc CortezTheology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general. [...]

  9. [...] Artigo:  How do you discern the conversion of a child? Ator: Brian Croft Fonte: Practical Shepherding [Como discernir a conversão de uma criança?] “There are commonly 2 extremes as we all wrestle with this question.  The first is the careless lack of discernment of many churches who have an alter call for 4-5 year olds, ask them to raise their hand if they love Jesus, then baptize them as converted followers of Jesus.  The other extreme often results from the carelessness of the first.” [...]

  10. [...] Brian Croft has modified the list to help parents and pastors in discerning if children have experienced true conversion: [...]

  11. [...] Brian Croft: There are commonly 2 extremes as we all wrestle with this question. The first is the careless lack of discernment of many churches who have an alter call for 4-5 year olds, ask them to raise their hand if they love Jesus, then baptize them as converted followers of Jesus. The other extreme often results from the carelessness of the first. This extreme prevents both parents and pastors to be willing to affirm whether or not a child is truly converted until they are adults and are completely independent of their parent’s authority and care. I believe a middle ground must be approached if we truly desire to discern clear biblical evidence that a child, teenager, or young adult has become a new creature in Christ. Knowing we are not God and cannot see the heart, I believe there are still evidences we can see and know to help us discern a child or teenager’s conversion in a similar way we try to do the same with adults. In the spirit of Jonathan Edward’s 5 signs of true conversion, here are 5 evidences that I try to use as a template as both a parent and pastor in wrestling with this issue. [...]

  12. [...] How Do You Discern the Conversion of a Child? – Brian Croft [...]

  13. [...] Some practical advise on discerning a child’s conversion: How do you discern the conversion of a child? | Practical Shepherding. [...]

  14. […] “How do you discern the conversion of a child?” (Brian Croft) […]

  15. […] a year ago I came across a blog post from Brian Croft offering guidance in discerning the salvation of children that I found to be […]

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