Help! My child walked the aisle! What do I do now?
Okay, full disclosure – I am the one asking the question this week. If you were at First Baptist of El Dorado yesterday morning, you’ll know my 8 year old son Luke took 3 steps with his mom (they sit on the front row and I was standing literally 3 steps from them) and ‘came forward’ during the invitation to go public with his decision to follow Jesus. No, I didn’t know he was coming. Yes, I was surprised. Six months ago or so he had talked about trusting Jesus. But he really didn’t want to go public with it – so Katie and I left it alone and prayed.
Then, out of nowhere, he tugged on his mommy’s dress during the invitation and said, “Mom, I gotta go forward!” So, they came forward and the pastor (his daddy) ‘presented’ him – if you will – to the church body.
Since then, as you can imagine, I’ve been doing a lot of thinkin’. The question I keep asking myself is, “what now?” My firstborn has ‘walked the aisle.’ He’s ‘prayed the prayer.’ What does a parent do next?
Here’s what I have concluded thus far:
1. Highlight and Celebrate God’s Working in His Life.
When a child – unprompted by anyone – tells his mommy he ‘has’ to go forward during the invitation, something is going on in his soul. I have to believe God is drawing Luke and working in his heart. So many people pray for him. So, yesterday afternoon – starting with letting him choose where we ate lunch – we celebrated God choosing to work in his heart and Luke’s boldness and courage to obey the prompting.
2. Reiterate what ‘Being Saved’ Really Means.
Walking an aisle saves no one. Only Jesus saves. I believe it is so important for all Christians – especially children – to understand this reality. Before Luke went to sleep last night I crawled up on his bed with him and asked him some questions to help him make sure he knew what Jesus did 2,000 years ago – and Luke’s trust in that – is what rescues him. The same will be true when we talk about baptism in the coming days.
3. Get an ‘Outsider’s’ Perspective.
Mom and dad can be either too blind or too careful. Too blind to see their own ‘partiality’ in the salvation experience of their child. Too careful in allowing God to work by not wanting to ‘rush it’ or ‘force’ something. Due to these extremes, I think it wise to get a non family member to talk to the child for their perspective. This is a HUGE reason I am so grateful for the ministry of Mark Sandy. He is GREAT with children – especially when it comes to helping them understand salvation. We’ll be setting up a time for Luke to meet with Mark very soon.
4. It’s Only Just Begun.
Jesus was clear: We are to make disciples, not just converts. As a parent, my mindset cannot be: “Okay, that’s done.” Rather, I should constantly ask: “How can I best equip Luke to know and follow Jesus?” The purpose of all this is not to get Luke to ‘just’ walk an aisle and be baptized. As a parent, I should ultimately desire to see my child long for and follow Jesus.
For the Spirit to finish the good work He has started in Luke. For Luke to have a real and genuine understanding of what’s going on. For mom and dad to have wisdom in the days ahead. For a love for Jesus that surpasses any other love.
This is what I’ve concluded having been a parent of a child who walked the aisle less than 24 hours ago.
What would you add to the list?