How to Explain Repentance to Children

Two Gospels?

Is there one gospel for adults and a different one for children? Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me.” He didn’t authorize us to change the terms for people coming to him. Before any person can be saved, certain criteria must be met.

  1. That person must be old enough to understand the gospel.
  2. He or she must understand sin and realize the need forgiveness.
  3. The person must repent of his or her sin and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died to take the punishment for the sins of His people.

Why do people these days tend to leave out the repentance part, especially when dealing with children?

Picture of repentance page from Answers For New Christians, the Kids Salvation Curriculum

Repentance Page from Kids' Salvation Curriculum and Coloring Book, Answers For New Christians


Repentance for Kids

What does repent mean?  Repent means to change your mind about something, or turn away. Repenting of sin is turning away from sin and turning to God.  When we repent of sin, we don’t feel the same about it as we used to. We must explain the concept of repentance to children if we expect them to be repentant people.

How to Explain Repentance to Kids

The following is one way to explain repentance to kids.

When you are following Jesus, sin makes you uncomfortable and it bothers you when you have sin in your life. Living a lifestyle of repentance means that we repent, or turn away day by day from the things that God (through the Holy Spirit or His word)  shows us are wrong .

What the Bible Says About Repentance

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  Acts 3:19

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”    Matthew 4:17

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.   Matthew 11:20

They went out and preached that people should repent.  Mark 6:12

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:32

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:10

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38

Teaching Takes Time

After reading these verses, can you honestly believe that all a child has to do to become a Christian is repeat a prayer? In order to lead someone to salvation, it may take more than a couple of minutes. You may have to invest some time teaching and plowing up that ground for the gospel seeds. It is a good thing for us all to consider the Lord’s word to those who lead children astray.

A Warning For Children’s Bible Teachers

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

God is not Santa! He requires certain things, and it is not up to us to rewrite these requirements to fit in with our cultural preferences. Children, like everyone else, need to know that part of becoming a  Christian is repenting of sin.

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