I came across this excerpt from an article in some notes from seminary. I am reposting it in hopes of helping people in ministry to remember that what we say and understand, is heard and understood much differently by children.
Eugene Chamberlin, When Can A Child Believe (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1973)
Language of Zion:Â Go Forward
Child’s Traslation: Move from where one is seated to the front of the auditorium.
Your Translation: Give your heart to Jesus? No. Better try: Let the church know what Jesus has done for you.
Language of Zion: Commit Your life
Child’s Translation: Who knows? “Commit” is a strange word.
Your translation: Promise Jesus that you will always try to please Him in all you do.
Langage of Zion: Give your heart
Child’s Translation: Take my heart out of my body and hand it to someone. Send a valentine.
Your Translation: Trust Jesus to help you live the way He wants you to live every day.
Language of Zion: Take Jesus as Savior
Child’s Translation: Go somewhere with Jesus
Your Translation: See the translation for “Give your heart”
Language of Zion: Lost
Child’s Translation: Misplaced; gone; maybe taken by someone who wanted it; now knowing where you are.
Your Translation: Not trusting Jesus to save you and to help you day by day.
Langauge of Zion: Saved
Child’s Translation: Kept in a hiding place, like saving or dollars.
Your Translation: Trusting Jesus to forgive you for displeasing Him. A person is saved when he is willing to live for Jesus all the rest of his life.
Langauge of Zion: Make a Profession
Child’s Translation: Build something called a profession.
Your Translation: Let other people know that you have promised Jesus to try to live always in the way He wants you to live.
Language of Zion: Give the preacher your hand
Child’s Translation: Maybe shake hands with the preacher.
Your Translation: Tell the preacher about the promise you have made to Jesus.
Language of Zion: Privileges and responsibilities
Child’s Translation: Something they give you when you join the church or get baptized.
Your Translation: The right to vote in church meeting, the right to take part in the Lord’s Supper, the duty to help do the work of the church.
Language of Zion: The hand of Christian fellowship
Child’s Translation: Somebody’s hand; maybe the hand of a Christian; maybe there’s someone named Christian Fellowship . . .what a name!
Your Translation: A welcome from the people who are already Christians, usually done by shaking hands at the close of a service in which a person joins the church.
Language of Zion: Be baptized
Child’s Translation: Let the preacher put you under water.
Your Translation: Let the preacher put you under water to show that you are a follower of Jesus.
I have had children delay in receiving salvation because they thought it involved Jesus coming “to live in their heart.” They thought it would be very painful to have another person living in their heart which was small. So, I hope this helps you to think about how you are communicating with children. Now get out there and make a difference!
Mary Mitchell says
“In many sunday schools the children are taught a different doctrine, somewhat after this fashion: “Now, dear children, be very good, and obey your parents, and love Jesus and you will be saved. That is not the gospel and is not true…It is, trust Him – believe…the root of the matter is “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”….and that is the gospel for a child of 2 years of age, and the gospel for a man of 100.” Charles Spurgeon.
Drew Boswell says
Great quote Mary; I like Charles Spurgeon. We have to watch our doctrine closely, especially when those who we teach are completely dependent upon our (and their parents) spiritual maturity and faithfulness to accurate teaching.